Content - MatheMagics
Making math fun.
Recommended by the Swiss Mathematical Society
"Imagination is at work in a creative mathematician no less than it is in an inventive poet." (Jean-Baptiste Le Rond D'Alembert)
Mathematics - It's everywhere you look. With the astounding impact of modern technology mathematics is indispensable in our modern lives. In addition to the science of physics and applied technology, mathematics is also an essential tool - in wide ranging areas such as banking software and statistical projections of government elections.
Mathematical formula are the basis of the computerised tomography (CT) Xray scan - though you may not realise it's integral geometry at work when you are inside the "tube". There are almost no occupations in which mathematics is irrelevant. Of course, math is even more important, when computers are involved.
"Easy as Pi"
The "MatheMagics" gallery has a simple and yet ambitious goal: to awaken curiosity for the underappreciated "queen of the sciences", mathematics.
Yet how many of us would say, "I'm so bad at math." This exhibition offers simple examples to visualize the connection between mathematics and mathematical thinking in everyday life. No previous knowledge is required - just your own curiosity and instinct to explore.
Hands-on interactive exhibits, because interaction and "grasping" go hand in hand with understanding.
Despite the abstract reputation of mathematics, the activities of mentally grasping an idea and physically handling models are brought together in this exhibition. Your hands help you to explore and understand, making it easier to handle and understand those concepts in your head.
From Enjoyment to Insight
The exhibition conveys a sense of wonder and beauty with many striking examples of mathematical phenomena, yet it is more than a pleasant diversion. The exhibits offer the opportunity for discovery, insight, and the aha! experience.
More than 55 mathematical experiences - no previous experience necessary
Take the mysterious "Number Pi", calculated to 20'000 decimal places displayed as a graphic design of a one long spiral of digits adjacent to one million decimal points of Pi on a computer. As you can discover here, Pi is much more than the symbol of a formula, e.g. for the geometry of a circle. There is a 99 % chance you can find the birth date of each member of a family or school class in the million digit long sequence on the computer. Consider also that there are no repeating patterns of digits to be found in over 200 billion decimal places of Pi.
What does it take to be a hacker? It's all about mathematics! The computer exhibit "Crack the Code" shows in slow motion how a powerful computer checks a multitude of digit combinations in a fraction of a second; when the computer does this operation at normal speed it can crack the code in a flash.
Besides an abundance of puzzles and mathematical toys related to probability and chance, such as "The Dice Worm" or "The Decay Curve", the "Hyperbolic Slot", the "Water Parabola" and the colourful "Rhombohedron" are pure math.
Perhaps you remember hearing about the "Pythagorean theorem" in math class. Even math scholars will smile at the demonstration of this proof in liquid form, a fluid Quod erat demonstrandum!
The "Video Streamer" looks at the edges of a stack of pictures revealing a time based third dimension. The motions of fingers, hands, arms, or of the whole body are recorded by a video camera, and stored and "stacked" in the computer. The flow of time is revealed, on the sides of the sequentially stacked pictures. The immediate visual feedback of seeing this unusual picture of one's own movements provides a visceral sense of graphing motion over time.
If you have never considered how much a million is, "One In A Million" will be quite a challenge. Try to find the one and only small black bead in a rotatable glass cylinder filled with one million tiny yellow balls.
The sub-topic "Land of Numbers" has one exhibit of particular concern to all: "Population Growth" where one can follow how the human race, second by second and minute and minute, grows in number. With the "Experiments in Logic" and "Optimizing Tasks", often considered at the margins of mathematics, deliberate contemplation and thought experiments are a more direct path to the solution than trial and error. An example is the famous "Wolf-Goat-Cabbage Puzzle". Those who like counter-intuitive surprises will enjoy the strangely curved ball-tracks, racing brachistochrones against cycloids. These ball races lead to unexpected and seemingly illogical results.
The recurring theme of art and science
The alliance of art and science has long been a trademark of The Swiss Science Center Technorama.
"Sisyphus III", conceived by US artist Bruce Shapiro and engineered by Technorama, creates a contemplative mood, and brings the sensibility of fine art to mathematics. It is a kind of icon of the exhibition. ( Video )
Seemingly magically, though in fact with magnetic and numerical control, a steel-ball traces spirals or any random mathematical curve or pattern on a layer of white sand, "Sisyphus III" is evocative of the raked gravel patterns in Japanese Zen gardens.
Could Mozart have been more prolific if he had mixed and matched sections of his previous compositions when composing new work? Roll the dice to create your own original Mozart-like melody at the "Musical Game of Dice" which works by randomly reassembling passages from Mozart. At the threshold between science and art, is the visualization of fractals, by which Benoit Mandelbrot tried to calculate the fractal dimension of real objects by repeating their structure down to an infinitesimal small scale. The hands-on "How Long is a Section of Switzerland's Border"? illustrates fractals in a direct manner, by using measuring strings of metal balls. Different sizes of balls offer different resolutions from coarse to fine and result in different measurements.
Calculus?! - no need to be afraid
"MatheMagics" rises to the challenge of presenting the mathematical method of precisely describing minute changes: otherwise known as "calculus". The concept of "limit values" is visualized with a laser beam on the inside of a cylindrical reflective surface. By continuous adjustment of the angle of a laser beam you can change where it bounces off the surface in Laser Polygon to draw polygons of more and more sides. As you rotate the laser beam the polygons can progress to a seemingly infinite number of sides that grow infinitely short in length.