Tag Archives: Maths gallery

Science Museum congratulates Dame Zaha Hadid

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, today offered his congratulations to Dame Zaha Hadid, who has been awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects’ 2016 Royal Gold Medal.

Dame Zaha becomes the first woman to be the sole recipient of this prestigious prize, which is approved by Her Majesty The Queen and awarded to an individual or group who have had a significant influence in the advancement of architecture.

A globally renowned architect, she won commission to design a new Mathematics gallery which is opening at the Science Museum in 2016.

‘We are delighted on Dame Zaha’s behalf’ said Mr Blatchford. “With her mathematical background, she is a beacon of inspiration for young women. The sculptural designs for our new mathematics gallery set a new standard when it comes to crystallising abstract mathematical thinking into beautiful physical forms.”

Her diverse portfolio of work includes the Aquatics Centre that she designed for the London Olympics and China’s Guangzhou Opera House.

Dame Zaha said, ‘I am very proud to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal, in particular, to be the first woman to receive the honour in her own right.’

The new Mathematics gallery at the Science Museum has been made possible by the largest individual donation ever made to the museum from long-standing supporters of science, David and Claudia Harding.

At the launch of the gallery with the Hardings, Dame Zaha expressed her excitement at being a part of the project as ‘it connects ideas of complexity and curvature with science making it a science installation instead of an art installation.’

Dame Zaha was also the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, once again defying traditional and stereotypical expectations of what woman can achieve in architecture and science.

During a visit to the Science Museum, Dame Zaha talked about the battles woman face when pursuing science and mathematics, compared with men, with women comprising only 21% of full science professors (according to the US National Science Foundation).

She noted how her success has been an inspiration to young women: ‘when I go out to give a talk somewhere there are many girls who come to me. They want to be reassured that they actually can break that barrier and also do it with confidence.’

Next month the museum will celebrate Ada Lovelace Day (13th October), an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths, with a new exhibition exploring the remarkable story of mathematician Ada Lovelace. The exhibition brings together her portraits, letters and notes, alongside Charles Babbage‘s incredible calculating machines that she studied.

Sinéad Carroll is the External Affairs & Digital Team Assistant.

2013 Annual Director’s Dinner

Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs at the Science Museum Group, writes about the 2013 Director’s Annual Dinner held in the Museum. 

The Science Museum unveiled the next major stage in its development last night at the Director’s Annual Dinner, with the help of Cédric Villani, winner of the most prestigious prize in mathematics, the Fields Medal.

The Museum already plans to launch a £4 million platform for photography, art and science, called Media Space this autumn; a £1 million immersive show about particle physics, Collider, in November; and a £16 million Information Age gallery in 2014, as the world’s foremost celebration of information and communication technologies.

Director's Annual Dinner at the Science Museum

Guests at the Director’s Annual Dinner hear the Museum’s plans for development. Image: Science Museum

Ian Blatchford, Director, announced at the annual dinner that the next major project would be to deliver a maths gallery on the second floor of the museum in 2016, quoting Churchill, who famously described how his Harrow master ‘convinced me that mathematics was not a hopeless bog of nonsense, and that there were meanings and rhythms behind the comical hieroglyphics.’

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, welcomes guests to the Annual Dinner

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, welcomes guests to the Annual Dinner. Image: Science Museum

The project will draw on the expertise of Jim Bennett, previously director of the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, and the advice of some of the country’s best popularisers of mathematics, Prof Marcus du Sautoy and Alex Bellos.

Guests at the Director's Dinner. Image: Science Museum

Guests at the Director’s Dinner. Image: Science Museum

Appropriately, the guest of honour and keynote speaker at the dinner was Cédric Villani, Director of the Institut Henri Poincaré (UPMC/CNRS) who was awarded the 2010 Fields Medal and is as well known for his ‘19th century poet’ look – white cravat and long hair– as his playful, inspirational approach to mathematics.

Cédric Villani, Director of the Institut Henri Poincaré, addresses guests at the Directors Dinner

Cédric Villani, Director of the Institut Henri Poincaré, addresses guests at the Directors Dinner. Image: Science Museum

His lecture deftly intertwined physics, economics and geometry and he referred to the curse of mathematicians who, like in the legend of the Lady of Shallot is condemned ‘ to look at this world only through its reflection.”

Villani’s research (described in his TEDx talk above) is based on kinetic theory, which scientists use to describe a system of interacting particles such as a gas or liquid in which billions of molecules are moving in all directions.

He has extended this theory to include the long-range interactions between molecules, the second law of thermodynamics and the Boltzmann equation, which describes the behaviour of particles in a low density gas. He illustrated his talk with a picture of himself taken in the central cemetery, in Vienna, next to Ludwig Boltzmann’s grave. Because the second law of thermodynamics predicts that entropy – a measure of disorder within a system – always increases, Villani has in effect figured out was just how fast our world is falling apart.

Director Ian Blatchford (l) congratulates Lord Rees (r) on becoming a Fellow of the Science Museum. Image: Science Museum

Science Museum Director Ian Blatchford (l) congratulates Lord Rees (r) on becoming a Fellow of the Science Museum. Image: Science Museum

Later in the evening, Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal, was made a Science Museum Fellow in recognition of his contribution to the world of science.

The black tie event, which was addressed by the Chairman of Trustees, Dr Doug Gurr and sponsored by Champagne Bollinger, was attended by leading figures including Jim al-Khalili, broadcaster and physicist; Evan Davis, Presenter of Dragons’ Den and the Today programme; entrepreneur and model Lily Cole; Science Minister David Willetts MP; Imran Khan, CEO of the British Science Association; Anthony Geffen, CEO & Executive Producer of Atlantic Productions; Daisy Goodwin, television producer, poetry anthologist and novelist; Deborah Bull, Executive Director, King’s Cultural Institute; Simon Singh, author; Fiona Fox, Director of the Science Media Centre; Sarah Sands, Editor of the Evening Standard; and Professor of Genetics, Steve Jones.

The 2013 Director's Annual Dinner was sponsored by Champagne Bollinger. Image: Science Museum

The 2013 Director’s Annual Dinner was sponsored by Champagne Bollinger. Image: Science Museum