February 22, 2024

Hands-on science training in Darmstadt

  1. Homepage
  2. Rhine-Main
  3. Darmstadt

This is about logic. Martin Otto (p.) explains the mission of the Muddy Children. © Sebastian Weissgerber

Technical University Darmstadt makes mathematics understandable in one long night. Many children, youth and adults accept the call that we are running out of space.

About 600 children, young people, adults and pensioners came to the Long Night of Mathematics at the Technical University of Darmstadt on Friday evening in the Old Machine House on Magdalenstrasse. “We counted very accurately,” says mathematics professor Frank Orzada without a wink. At the first such event last year, 380 people attended. “We want to show that mathematics is something you can touch and understand easily.”

So many people responded to the invitation that some even had to sit on the floor to attend the introductory lecture by Professor Ulrich Lev. Lev explained the surprisingly simple algorithm behind modern computer graphics, for which the animation studio Pixar won an Oscar in 1998 for the short film “Jerry's Game,” among others. The Swiss Georg de Ram described the basic problem of turning corners as early as 1947 – although it was still quite similar at that time using the example of a hammer. In a tool factory in Lausanne, oval handles were made from a rectangular slice of wood. First the four corners are planned, then the resulting eight corners again. “Then the company used some sandpaper and it looked round.”

Smooth without sandpaper

Modern computer graphics use the same method today. And all without sandpaper. Because: “If you use this two or three times, a completely smooth surface will emerge,” says Lev. “That's enough for computer graphics, and they're very happy with it.” Lev is actually very happy with the result. This can be differentiated once or even twice, as Leif repeatedly reports.

See also  Science and Technology: Six Months in Space

When asked, Volker Betz later explained why he was happy about this fact. The Stochastic Master offers a weekly demonstration and teaching session at 8:30pm on his Twitch channel “Matheammontag”. Betz says there is simply no solution to most mathematical problems. However, differentiability means that the function does not contain any of these surprises. “Then I have a powerful toolkit with which I can examine my function very well.”

Because mathematics is still full of unsolved questions today, there are always groundbreaking discoveries. Researchers will not find the long-awaited Einstein slab until 2023. Eddy Kaga explains that the shirt-shaped object can be assembled on a surface an infinite number of times without being able to align itself by moving it. The student used the 3D printer to print lots of tiles so everyone could see for themselves. On other stands, you can stack artillery shells to create the perfect package, find the perfect shape for a marble path or experiment with the best approach when choosing your home.

Orzada hopes that one or two people will be persuaded to study mathematics. Because the section is small. The course has only 70 first-year students each year. For comparison: in computer science there are more than a thousand. Orzada says mathematics offers excellent prospects in IT, insurance and management consulting. “If you have studied mathematics, you can understand all the modern technologies.”