In 1995, Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura designed a folding mechanism intended to deploying solar panels in space. The method, called the Miura fold or miura-ori, allows you to open and close a folded piece of paper -- like a map -- with one swift motion. It's pretty like origami and useful like a fox.
Make sense? Probably not. The GIF to the right is probably the best demonstration of the Miura fold in action (click to enlarge). Entrepreneur Eric Meltzer describes it thusly:
A Miura sheet has only one degree of freedom, and can be thought of as having only two states: fully open, or fully closed. Since reversing one fold in the sheet (that is, making a "mountain" into a "valley") requires reversing all of the adjacent folds as well, the Miura sheet feels as though it has a memory, and is very resistant to deformation.
While designed for solar panels, the fold could clearly come in handy in regular everyday usage -- like for folding and unfolding maps. The catch is that if your paper isn't already folded Miura-style, it's fairly complicated to fold. Meltzer offers this folding schematic from Koryo Miura's original design. Alternately, this YouTube video offers another method (that appears to be a little different).
Whether you've used the Miura fold before or you give it a try today, let's hear how it works for you in the comments.
The Miura-ori and how to fold it [Wheatpond]