‘Mathematica: A World of Numbers…And Beyond’ is now open at The Henry Ford

Entrance to the new "Mathematica" exhibit inside the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

DEARBORN, Mich. — Do you love math? If so check out the new exhibit, “Mathematica: A World of Numbers…And Beyond” at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Mich.

This new exhibit was conceptualized, designed and brought to life by Charles and Ray Eames in 1961. The idea is to make mathematics and numbers easier to understand for all.

“It provides a direct experience of mathematics and its got a whole series of interactives,” said Marc Greuther, chief curator at The Henry Ford. “Each interactive allows people to interact in a different way. There’s a machine that allows you do three times multiplication by pressing buttons and giving the answer in lights in a cubic form. There’s a simple machine called celestial mechanics in which you release a ball that can do elliptical orbits. Sometimes its interactivity based on pushing buttons and making choices and other times its just looking and seeing things happen.”

The Henry Ford’s Mathematica exhibit is one of only three in the world. The other two are located at the New York Hall of Science and at the Museum of Science in Boston.

“It was designed to be great for kids, everybody in between, right through to folks in advanced in years,” the chief curator added. “It’s a playful exhibit that opens doors to fairly serious things. You don’t have to enjoy this exhibit with a view to becoming a rocket scientist or a mathematician. It offers insight into mathematical phenomenon that you will recognize in the world like blowing soap bubbles, that kind of thing.”

Two of the artifacts are unique to the Henry Ford installation: Random Walk and Conic Sections. In Random Walk, two baskets flip back and forth to determine the direction of a meandering pathway of lightbulbs. In Conic Sections, beams of light are transformed into complex shapes.

“It’s pretty interesting and I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before,” said Liz Huffman, a visitor from Novi, Mich. “It’s very hands-on, great, visuals. We’ve been really enjoying it so far. What I learned in high school was out of a textbook and paper. But here it’s more active and engaging. It gives you nice models in action to really explain a concept.”

In case you were wondering, admission to Mathematica is included with your ticket or membership. The exhibit is located on the west side of the museum near the home arts and agriculture sections.

“It’s very fascinating, very imaginative, kind of an interesting way of visualizing mathematical concepts,” said Eduardo Fojo, an attendee from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. “It’s perfect for kids and adults. Even if you’re an adult, you’re going to be fascinated by things in motion and kind of how concepts are described and such. The first one that I remember from college is the probability one. I took a statistics class in college. Seeing that bell curve brings back memories of mean, median and mode.”

Mathematica is a new permanent exhibit within the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. In just a few weeks, the museum will open a special exhibit called “The Science Behind Pixar” beginning on October 14.

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is located at 20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, MI 48124. For tickets and more information, visit https://www.thehenryford.org/

 

 

Visitors checking out the new “Mathematica” exhibit at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

 

In Random Walk part of the exhibit, two baskets flip back and forth to determine the direction of a meandering pathway of lightbulbs. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

 

Watch the balls drop to form the shape of the bell curve in the probability section of the exhibit. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

 

Learn about geometric shapes in this part of the exhibit. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

 

In Conic Sections, beams of light are transformed into complex shapes. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

 

A preview of what you will see in the viewfinder of conic sections. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

 

Coming attractions at The Henry Ford (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

 

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