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Media Contact:  Shell Amega 213-744-7496
 
March 15, 2002
Mathematica
A World of Numbers and Beyond
 

Last chance to see an old favorite...
"In doing an exhibition, as in Mathematica, one deliberately tries to let the fun out of the bag. The catch is that it can't be any old fun but it must be a very special brand… The fun must follow all of the rules of the concept involved."

-Charles Eames, renowned exhibition designer and producer of the classic film "Powers of Ten"

 
A young boy watches a red-arrow travel continuously over the surface of a 15-foot-long "Moebius Band", proving visually that the figure has but one surface and one edge.
 

Los Angeles - Mathematica: A World of Numbers and Beyond, an exhibition designed to display the range of mathematics, and share the excitement that mathematicians find in pursuing their science, opens at the California Science Center July 12 and runs through September 8, 2002. The theory, imagery and history of mathematics are portrayed in an array of innovative interactive elements providing guests with a closer look at the science behind key mathematical concepts. Designed by the Office of Charles and Ray Eames, Mathematica was organized by the California Science Center.

This is the last chance to see the exhibition that won the hearts of several generations of teachers and students during its tenure at the California Science Center (formerly California Museum of Science and Industry) from 1961-1997. Responding to the groundswell of public interest for the exhibit, Mathematica was resurrected and transformed into a 2,500 sq. foot traveling exhibition. However, all good things must come to an end, and this will be the exhibit's final appearance at the Science Center.

Fundamentals of mathematics are explained by peep-show movies to a young visitor who experienced the exhibit in 1965. The exhibit, brought back to the California Science Center (previously the California Museum of Science and Industry) by popular demand, includes six peep-shows that explore such subjects as symmetry, topology, functions, numbers and the method used by Eratosthenes to establish he size of the earth.
 

Mathematica includes six interactive units covering the following concepts: celestial mechanics, the Moebius band, probability, topology, minimal surfaces, projective geometry, and multiplication. In each of the interactive displays a visitor pushes a button to activate the demonstration. When the button is pressed on the Probability machine 30,000 plastic balls fall through a maze of 200 steep pegs, randomly forming the classic bell curve.

In the Multiplication Cube, a cube composed of 512 electric lightbulbs illuminates the answers to multiplication problems entered sequentially on a keyboard by the visitor. Guests also experience the concept of Minimal Surfaces as a soap film membrane assumes the shape of a solid geometric frame.

The principles these exhibits demonstrate mechanically are also explained by graphic panel with text and illustrations. Another visual aspect of the exhibition is an Image Wall that features graphs and diagrams illustrating mathematical principles.

 
The "Cube of Lights," made up of 512 glowing lights and clicking relays, is one of the lively mathematical attractions at the "Mathematica - A World of Numbers and Beyond" exhibit.
 

The late designers Charles and Ray Eames are renowned for designing furniture, exhibitions and more than 100 films including the Eames classic film "Powers of Ten." The Eames office spent a year researching the exhibition, drawing on the collections of Butler Library at Columbia University in New York City for many of the visual artifacts. Mathematica has often been used as a model for exhibitions on science. Its longevity and enduring popularity are proof of its value and of the scholarship that contributed to its development.

Note to Editors
The California Science Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission to the exhibitions is free. For recorded information on IMAX show times, phone (213) 744-7400. For advance ticket purchases, group rates, or to make free reservations for any visiting group of 15 or more (required), call (213) 744-2019. Parking is available in the guest lot at Figueroa and 39th Street for $6 per car. Both the Science Center and IMAX Theater are wheelchair accessible. For general information, phone (323) SCIENCE or visit our website at www.casciencectr.org.

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