Science Museum maths gallery to offer the perfect pint

Liz I's standard measure toasts Brit experimental aircraft

London's Science Museum will on 8 December cut the ribbon on a mathematics gallery featuring a range of stuff including a three-rotor Engima machine, an Islamic planispheric astrolabe and the Handley Page "Gugnunc" experimental aircraft.

The Enigma machine and astrolabe. Images: Science Museum

The Enigma machine, crafted by Nazis in 1943, and the planispheric astrolabe, crafted by Jamal al-Din ibn Muquin, in Lahore, Pakistan, between 1666-67. Pics: Science Museum

The 1929 Gugnunc flying machine - which competed in that year's Guggenheim Safe Aircraft Competition - is the centrepiece of the "Mathematics: The David and Claudia Harding Gallery", to use the space's official title honouring its sponsors.

The Gugnunc aircraft. Pic: Science Museum

Gugnunc. Pic: Science Museum

Zaha Hadid Architects - of the Qatar vagina stadium fame - have created sinuous "three-dimensional curved surfaces representing the mathematical equations of airflow around the aircraft".

Architect's impression of the finished gallery. Pic: Science Museum

Virtual airflow. Pic: Science Museum

Also on show for visitors' viewing pleasure will be a 17th century calculating machine by Samuel Morland and a 1920s "Washington" calculator designed to tackle "problems of reinforced concrete"

The two calculating machines. Pics: Science Museum

The Morland and 'Washington' calculators. Pics: The Science Musuem

Morland's machine was intended for "counting money quickly and accurately", using "individual dials for farthings, pence and shillings, as well as for pounds, from units to tens of thousands". Famed diarist Samuel Pepys apparently saw the device but dissed it as "very pretty, but not very useful".

The "Washington" calculator is "a multipurpose slide rule made for engineers working with reinforced concrete", in which "much of a building’s strength – in the steel reinforcing bars – was hidden once the concrete was poured". In 1909, The Times described the formulas involved as "perhaps rather terrifying at first sight".

In total, the gallery will have over 100 objects trumpeting mathematical advancement. Arguably the most important to the unwashed masses is a bronze Exchequer standard Winchester pint measure, a 1601 example of those which Elizabeth I had distributed around the country to guarantee full pints all round, or at least to ensure that "all merchants could share the same definition of measurement units".

The bronze Exchequer standard Winchester pint measure. Pic: Science Museum

Cheers: The 1601 standard pint. Pic: The Science Museum

Dr David Rooney, the exhibition's curator, said: "At its heart the Mathematics Gallery will tell a rich cultural story of human endeavour that has helped transform the world over the last 400 years. Mathematical practice underpins so many aspects of our lives and work, and we hope that bringing together these remarkable stories, people and exhibits will inspire visitors to think about the role of mathematics in a new light."

If you fancy popping down to the Science Museum before December, it's currently running Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius, highlighting " the immense talent that sparked the polymath's reputation as an exceptional and enduring inspiration in the fields of engineering and art". ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022