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Engineering

  • The shape formed by a chain hanging under its own weight suspended from either end is called a catenary curve. This shape plays a vital role in architecture as it is the perfect shape for an arch. There are some lovely examples of this on the walls of the Thames!
  • Millennium Bridge
    There was great excitement when the Millennium Bridge opened in June 2000. Thousands of people flocked to walk across the first dedicated pedestrian bridge built over the Thames since 1894. But as they started to make their way across it the bridge began to sway, affecting people's walking patterns and earning the bridge's notorious nickname, the Wobbly Bridge. But what caused this wobbling?
  • St Paul's Cathedral
    One of London's most loved landmarks, St Paul's Cathedral, has looked over the city for more than three centuries. And hidden within its dome is an intriguing example of the interplay between maths and architecture.
  • The Sheldonian Theatre
    The fascinating and inspired mathematics behind the construction of the Sheldonian Theatre allowed it to have the largest unsupported roof the world of the 17th century had ever seen.
  • The Gateway Arch, St. Louis Missouri
    The Gateway Arch in St Louis was built as a monument to commemorate the pioneering spirit of the explorers who forged the westward expansion of the United States. As we stand under the great arch, we too will embark on a journey, an exploration into the realm of hyperbolic trigonometry as we discover the majesty of the catenary curve.
  • Illustration of the idea behind seeing Big Ben strike thirteen
    St Stephen's tower is, perhaps, the best known of London's landmarks. Equally, Big Ben, the largest of the clock's bells, is world renowned as a symbol of regularity, due to its chimes sounding across London every hour. At Midday and Midnight Big Ben rings out twelve times, however, using a bit of mathematics of sound and distance it is possible to hear the famous "bong" thirteen times.
  • A large, ornately painted dome, with light shining through side windows
    For more than three centuries since it rose above the ashes of the Great Fire, the dome of St Paul's Cathedral has illustrated the importance of maths in understanding our physical and philosophical worlds.
  • Sheldonian Theatre
    The fascinating and inspired mathematics behind the construction of the Sheldonian Theatre allowed it to have the largest unsupported roof the world had ever seen. Here, we demonstrate the scientific principles involved using nothing more than equipment you can find in your own kitchen cupboards.
  • "The Gherkin" is a curved building made of many flat panes of glass
    You can’t take a tour of London and not notice one of the most iconic elements of the skyline – 30 St Mary Axe – otherwise known as the Gherkin. The Gherkin, with its tapered curved shape and spectacular construction, would not have been possible without mathematics.
  • I noticed the golden ratio in the "Great Jaguar" temple in Tikal, Guatemala (700 a.d.)
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