Cornellà dazzles Japan with its museum of mathematics
Mathematics Museum of Catalunya
The day the Polytechnic University of Catalonia invited the Japanese mathematician Jin Akiyama to deliver the inaugural lecture of the academic year 2015-2016 (that was on 23 September) launched an unexpected chain of events that has disturbed, for good, peace Museu de les Matemàtiques de Catalunya (MMACA), a place, as will be seen, extraordinary, though little known, perhaps because it is in Cornellà and barcelona centrism prevents often see beyond the limits of the municipality of the capital . The case, in a summary almost Telegram is that Akiyama, in your country a ‘showman’ of mathematics up signs autographs on the street, wanted to see the museum, which had heard. He was so excited he talked about it with passion the Consul General of Japan in Barcelona, Hiroyuki Makiuchi, who not only visited, but days later, on February 8, organized a tour of a dozen consuls from other countries the chamber of the Pythagorean and euclídicas wonders that houses the top floor of the Palau Mercader. The last link in this chain of events is that Makiuchi is determined to find sponsors in Japan for the MMACA because, in his opinion, is an initiative that deserves to grow exponentially.
Two years of life has the MMACA. It closed 2015 with more than 30,000 school visits and 7,000 adults, often worn by children after a first initiatory school trip. They are a great numbers for a project that literally born in a traditional way. A group of teachers of mathematics (Pure Fornals, Guido Ramellini, Enric Brasó and Josep Rey, among others) were looking for a city council to allow them to display permanently the panoply of wooden artifacts that King, a handyman, had built in wood to make mathematics more understandable. Antonio Balmón, mayor of Cornellà, did not hesitate a moment and offered them the top floor of the mansion of Can Mercader. The decision had its point of daring. Math museums in the world there are few more than pi.
In Europe opened its doors in 2002 Matematikum of Giessen (Germany). New York has its MoMath only since 2012. Cornellà competed since 2014 in the world league, and it is no exaggeration to affirm thus exchanged as pieces on display with these other cultural centers. For example, the generator polyhedra that King has made of four triangular mirrors and a set of pieces of wood has caused admiration among his colleagues of other nationalities, including Akiyama, which has a special merit, because this is the specialty precisely the mathematical Japan. His lectures are half way of magic objects. With a ribbon on the head, which gives an air of Mr. Miyagi ( “give wax on, wax off …”), seeks and achieves something really difficult if mathematics is to propose mental challenges to the audience without this fall in the discouragement. Sometimes learning in schools is an obstacle to the solution. There is the case of the Pythagorean theorem, which in the MMACA not measured by an equation learned by heart, but with a scale to check if the square of the legs weighs the same as the hypotenuse. Brilliant.
Beside the Matematikum and MoMath, the MMACA is modest in size. The real proof is that, because of space limitations and budget, have only one model of the Ames room, optical illusion patented in 1946 the ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, a trick of perspective how well he went to Peter Jackson for shoot his trilogy ‘the lord of the rings’ and that ‘hobbits’ seem minuscule next to humans. Barcelona had in his day a room of Ames. It was the first seat of the Museum of Science of Barcelona. The timely they christened as ‘the mysterious room’, and that really was. Today, the monumental CosmoCaixa not, what a shame, such a space. It should be a right of every parent to have a room of Ames hand to visit with their children.
In fact, the case of CosmoCaixa is interesting for the challenge that is posed now the Museum of them Mathematics Catalunya if, as the consul is powerful sponsors, as the museum La Caixa opened in 2004 on the slopes of Tibidabo it is a curious case of no planned obsolescence. Touch screens that provide information to visitors are trilobites compared to the phone that any of them in his pocket. In the MMACA nothing works with electricity (except a piece provided by the MoMath), no computers, have not fallen into the temptation of 3D printers. Needless.
Grow, yes, but with caution, explains Pura Fornals, one of the souls of the museum. The center organizes exhibitions Itinerant regularly. Last year there were 43. The problem is that the material can not travel without a monitor who knows perfectly trained mathematics behind the pantograph (so simple and so proud) or self-supporting bridge replica of Leonardo da Vinci, the visitors can build with their own hands, explains the professor Fornals.
“We’re gonna need a bigger boat” discovered half the film Roy Scheider in Jaws. Balmón, when asked about this dilemma raised by the sudden interest of the consul of Japan, he said that the city, as it did two years ago, would be happy to offer a venue larger museum without leaving Cornella, because the option to grow in the Palau Mercader itself is unfeasible.
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