In 1958, a high school student named Bob Heft came up with a design for a flag with 50 stars. When Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union, Heft and a thousand other people submitted their designs for the new 50 star flag to the White House, and Heft’s won.
According to the Smithsonian, Heft might have copyrighted a 51 star design before his death in 2009, but we may not need it. Technology has advanced to the point at which we can automatically space 51 stars when we need to.
It’s a question of math. The 50 star flag has alternating rows of five and six stars, staggered so that they fit neatly into a rectangle with the same proportions as the other American flags up to that point. The same pattern will work for 51, using six alternating rows of eight and nine stars, according to mathematician Skip Garibaldi.
We’ve used the alternating rows pattern for so long that few of us can remember any earlier patterns, but there have been others, including evenly spaced grids of stars and circular patterns.
Some feel strongly that the new flag should maintain the current pattern, as in the example shown here. Others say that the idea of adding a new star for each new state is outmoded. They’d like to see a new design, perhaps a single star like Puerto Rico’s, which would not require further change if more states join the union.
It is safe to say that the need for another star will not be a problem.
In fact, you can buy one now.
This post was originally written in English and may be being auto-translated by Google.