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Deutsches Technikmuseum - Mathematics of Planet Earth

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Graph: The circular orbits of Galileo were set like a net around the globe.

Our planet earth with circular orbits of the navigation-satellite Galileo
© Centre Sciences

Photo: Red fiery lava is thrown out of a volcanic crater.

27.03.2010: Volcanic eruption at Fimmvörðuháls, a high plateau in southern Iceland
© Henrik Thorburn

Photo: The U-shaped valley and the glacier tongue right in front disclose the former ice-thickness.

Aletsch glacier in the eastern Bernese Alps/Switzerland
© Giovanni Kappenberger

Photo: Close-up view of a huge wave

Ocean waves - the overwhelming force of nature

Mathematics of Planet Earth

Gallery next to the permanent exhibition "The first Computer"

27 March 2014 until further notice

"Nature speaks the language of mathematics: The letters of this language are triangles, circles and other mathematical figures."
(Galileo Galilei, 1564-1642)

Erupting volcanoes, swelling tsunamis, melting glaciers: Our planet is a network of constant change. Is it possible to calculate or even forecast those changes? And how large is the contribution of the mathematical sciences in order to understand these dynamic processes and multifaceted relations?

Supported by mathematics, many of these geophysical or atmospheric processes can be identified and calculated: Mathematics supplies the appropriate tools for the calculation of the probability of volcanic eruptions or the propagation of tsunamis by substituting the relevant variable parameters, for e.g. temperature or speed, with mathematical expressions.

Our special exhibition "Mathematics of Planet Earth" shows three exquisite contributions to a worldwide competition, that was initiated in 2013 by the international initiative “Mathematics of Planet Earth". New multimedial and interactive exhibits were developped, illustrating the significance of mathematics for the analysis of the variable processes on our planet earth.

Dune Ash / University of Freiburg
Dune Ash is a simplified interactive simulation of the transport of an ash cloud after a vulcanic eruption in the middle of Europe. The users can place the volcano at any location in Europe, select a wind field and then observe the spread of the cloud over time.

The future of Glaciers / Free University of Berlin
The Alpine glaciers have been shrinking for more than a century. It is expected that this trend will continue if global warming continues. This module shows how mathematicians and glaciologists work together in order to make realistic predictions about how glaciers will change in the future.

TsunaMaths / University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris
Since time immemorial tsunamis have posed a significant risk for people living in coastal regions. TsunaMaths explains how the giant waves arise and how they can be predicted for early warning. The module also offers a collection of simulations and background information on the history of devastating tsunami disasters.

The exhibition is organised in cooperation with IMAGINARY, a project of the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach, sponsored by the Klaus Tschira Stiftung.