The Science Museum, London, UK. 7th December 2016. Mathematics: The Winton Gallery, press preview. Designed by the renowned Zaha Hadid Architects, this new gallery tells the story of how mathematics has shaped our world and spans 400 years of human ingenuity bringing mathematical history to life through the design and architecture of its displays. Credit: artsimages/Alamy Live News.

- Image ID: HC412M
The Science Museum, London, UK. 7th December 2016. Mathematics: The Winton Gallery, press preview. Designed by the renowned Zaha Hadid Architects, this new gallery tells the story of how mathematics has shaped our world and spans 400 years of human ingenuity bringing mathematical history to life through the design and architecture of its displays. Credit: artsimages/Alamy Live News.
Malcolm Park editorial / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: HC412M
Conceived as a wind tunnel for the largest object in the gallery – a Handley Page aircraft from 1929 – the exhibition space follows the lines of airflow around it in a stunning display of imagined aerodynamics. Other objects in the gallery range from intriguing hand-held mathematical instruments to 19th-century human skulls, covering a time-span from the Renaissance to the present day. More than 100 treasures from the Science Museum’s world-class science, technology, engineering and mathematics collections have been selected to tell powerful stories about how mathematics has shaped, and been shaped by, some of our most fundamental human concerns – from trade and travel to war, peace, life, death, form and beauty. Curator Dr David Rooney said, “At its heart this gallery reveals a rich cultural story of human endeavour that has helped transform the world over the last four hundred 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.” Positioned at the centre of the gallery is the Handley Page ‘Gugnunc’ aeroplane, built in 1929 for a competition to construct safe aircraft. Ground-breaking aerodynamic research influenced the wing design of this experimental aeroplane, helping to shift public opinion about the safety of flying and to secure the future of the aviation industry. This aeroplane encapsulates the gallery’s overarching theme, illustrating how mathematical practice has helped solve real-world problems and in this instance paved the way for the safe passenger flights that we rely on today. Mathematics also defines Zaha Hadid Architects’ enlightening design for the gallery. Inspired by the Handley Page aircraft, the design is driven by equations of airflow used in the aviation industry.

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