A simple equation

A simple equation

Mathematics. The subject is polarizing, and not in an algebraic sense, either. Those with a natural flair for all things numerical get a thrill when everything, quite literally, adds up (or so we’re told), while quadratic equations can bring – or bore – others to tears.

The new Museum of Mathematics in New York aims to persuade even those in the latter category that maths can be FUN! Yes, founder and mathematician Glen Whitney pledges to entertain while educating, and to help re-activate the section of the brain dedicated to dealing with tricky arithmetic.

The museum, which opened in December 2012, is aimed at all ages and all levels. Highlights include the Tessellation Station, the Hyper Hyperboloid and the popular Square-Wheeled Trike. A Mathanaeum allows visitors to design geometric sculptures and then see them printed in 3D (a mind-boggling concept that’s hard to get your head round until you see the result). The intimidatingly named Wall of Fire is actually a reassuringly non-flammable plane of laser lights that creates cross-sections of the shapes passed through it. And at the Enigma Cafe, interactive tables present ‘new and classic physics puzzles’ to solve – over what will probably be the most mentally taxing cup of coffee you’ve ever drunk.

Exhibits also aim to get rid of the social stigma surrounding the subject amongst children. ‘Kids are born as explorers,’ Whitney says. ‘They ask questions about everything. Math is a ripe area for exploring patterns and asking questions, but kids can pick up a social message that math is weird. We want to send a message that it’s cool to love math.’

Still not convinced? Then take solace in the fact that somebody on the premises can probably finally shed light on the eternal mathematical mystery of the difference between the ‘C’ and ‘CE’ buttons on your calculator. Result.

The Museum of Mathematics, 11 East 26th Street, New York. Open seven days a week, from 10am-5pm; tickets $15 adults, $9 children and concessions (00 1 212 542-0566; www.momath.org)

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply