Spectra – Festival of Light & Mathematics

The city I live in, Aberdeen, has organized a Festival of Light this weekend. They describe it as “an exciting family event bringing light to the depths of winter while celebrating Aberdeen’s creative past, present and future”. My description is a little different: an exciting family event showcasing great mathematical applications from art and light&sound exhibitions.

When I saw the program and map I was quite curios to see what they came up with. But, from some exhibitions titles (such as “Illuminating Geometry”, “STANZA, The Global Derive: The Sum is Greater Than The Parts” or “Wave Garden”) I became intrigued about the amount of mathematical applications I might see around. I was not disappointed at all.


I will go over some of the exhibitions and share some photos (I am not the best photographer and I don’t have the best camera), but also explaining the mathematics behind everything.

1. Lots of great geometrical shapes!!! “Illuminating Geometry” – the exhibition created by Aberdeen school children – had a great combination of triangles, pentagons, half circles, everything combined together to make interesting 3D shapes.


2. “Parabola (Crest)” was one of my favorite, but I wouldn’t have called it Parabola, more like Half Spheres. Anyway, this whole exhibition reminded me about an article I have read about a new way to make a map of the Earth. The article describes how a Japanese architect Hajime Narukawa solved a 447-year-old problem of the inaccurate and highly distorted traditional world map.  His design is based on an idea of dividing the world into 96 triangles, flatting and transferring into a tetrahedron form. The dividing technique allows the map to be “unfolded” into a rectangle while still keeping the proportions of the continent. Looking at how the artists has divided the half sphere into triangles seemed exactly the same idea for me. I would just love to see how the nets of those shapes would look like. half-shapes

3. “Wave Garden” has the perfect name. The short reminder:

The wave equation is an important second-order linear partial differential equation for the description of waves—as they occur in physics—such as sound waves, light waves and water waves. It arises in fields like acoustics, electromagnetics, and fluid dynamics.Historically, the problem of a vibrating string such as that of a musical instrument was studied by Jean le Rond d’Alembert, Leonhard Euler, Daniel Bernoulli, and Joseph-Louis Lagrange. In 1746, d’Alembert discovered the one-dimensional wave equation, and within ten years Euler discovered the three-dimensional wave equation.

The wave equation is a hyperbolic partial differential equation. It typically concerns a time variable t, one or more spatial variables x1, x2, …, xn, and a scalar function u = u (x1, x2, …, xn; t), whose values could model, for example, the mechanical displacement of a wave.


4. “STANZA, The Global Derive: The Sum is Greater Than The Parts” was an interesting one. The only problem I have found with it was that you couldn’t actually understand what it was from the display. I knew about it before I went to the festival and was quite excited to see it. Therefor, I understood what it represented, but I have heard people talking about it as if it was some sort of strange alien thing – they had to idea what it represented. Here is what it actually represents: twelve people were walking 2 hours everyday around the city. They were dressed with black binary hooded top with a zero or one printed on it. They were tracked and monitored as units of data, reduced and simplified and represented as a zero or a one. Custom made software tracked their real time position and the data was collected and fed back to the servers.


5. Other great geometrical shapes: “Adapt 5” (a 3D audio visual representation using back projection, geometric patterns and multiple screens), “Cloud” (a tribute to Scotland’s most ibiquitious invention – the incandescent light bulb, now retired to the annals of history. An interactive sculpture created from 6,000 light bulbs to form a could of light.) and “The Spiders” (giant stick figure spiders).

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Hope you liked this post and that you had a great weekend. Let me know if you would like to see similar ones. Feel free to comment bellow. Have a great day. You can find me on Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  Twitter   and  Instagram. I will try to post there as often as possible.

Lots of love and don’t forget that maths is everywhere! Enjoy!


2 thoughts on “Spectra – Festival of Light & Mathematics

Add yours

  1. Lovely! Wish I could have been there too!
    One remark: I think the parabola chest should be called the cathenoidal chest… I mean hanging chains have the form of a cathenoid which equation is proportional to e^(ax) + e^(-ax).
    I know since I had to work on it at my first year at university and it was a great mystery then!

    Liked by 1 person

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