What is the World Record For Cutting Paper in Half?

February 14, 2024

Many people are surprised to hear that it’s actually impossible to cut a sheet of paper in half more than once. This is because the physical limit is reached before it’s possible to physically divide the paper anymore. It’s a simple case of one hard surface cutting into another, and it’s not until the paper is much thinner than a micron that it’s no longer recognizable as a single sheet of paper.

The current world record for folding a piece of paper in half is 12 times, which was set by high school student Britney Gallivan more than 10 years ago. She was motivated to achieve this feat by a teacher’s extra-credit challenge, and she used mathematical equations to calculate the thickness, length and width of paper needed for the record. She eventually folded a sheet of tissue paper that was 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) long, a feat that took her eight hours to complete in a hallway in a California shopping mall.

Since then, others have attempted to break Gallivan’s record, but the most that anyone has managed is 13 folds. It’s important to note that even reaching this number is a challenging task, as the paper quickly becomes thicker than it is wide. This phenomenon is called geometric growth, and its effects are dramatic – if you were to fold an ordinary A4 sheet of paper 26 times, it would go from what we think of as negligible thickness to taller than Mount Everest!

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