Fotoeins Fotografie

revisioning place and home

Posts tagged ‘mathematics’

Christian Doppler, Doppler birth house, Dopplers Geburtshaus, Salzburg, Austria, Oesterreich,

My Salzburg: Christian Doppler’s birth house

In crossing the pedestrian bridge over the Salzach river, every step takes me away from the famous view of the fortress over Old Town classics of steeples and baroque in Salzburg. Before I get to where I want to be, I have to cross a busy street in the afternoon rush which has come to a halt. Wailing sirens approach and recede as red and white “Rettungswagen” race to the emergency situation somewhere in the city. The cyclical lights are in my favour, and upon turning the corner, I see the sign that tells me I’ve arrived.

One self-assigned goal during three weeks of travel within Austria was the search for places associated with physicists and mathematicians of my youth. And by youth, I mean the tender twenties when all I cared about was a succinct explanation of the natural world through various equations1. In Alpbach, I found Erwin and Annemarie Schrödinger’s grave. In Vienna, I found Ludwig Boltzmann’s grave. Here in Salzburg across the street from the Mozart family house, I found Christian Doppler after whom the Doppler effect is named.

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Mengenlehreuhr, set theory clock, Berliner Uhr, Berlin Clock, Sixt, Europa-Center, Budapester Strasse, Charlottenburg, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany,

My Berlin: An Unusual (Set Theory) Clock

I had read about this unusual clock years ago; the unusual mathematics connection was an additional “plus”.

I leave the crowds at Gedächtniskirche and Breitscheidplatz and head on over to the SixT car rental outlet on Budapester Strasse. What’s standing in front is most certainly a curiosity, even as passers-by look at me curiously.

The Berlin Clock is known in German as “Berliner Uhr”. The alternate name is “set theory clock” or “Mengenlehreuhr”, a German compound word consisting of “Menge” for quantities (sets), “Lehre” for theory, and “Uhr” for clock. The Guinness Book of Records claimed “the Berlin Clock was the first clock in the world operating according to the principles of set theory1“.

Created by inventor Dieter Binninger, the clock first stood at the corner of Kurfürstendamm and Uhlandstrasse in West Berlin from 1975 to 1995. Local business arrangements were made with Binninger’s widow for a long-term loan including maintenance costs, and the clock was moved in 1996 to its present location at the Europa-Center.

Here is how one reads the Berlin Clock:

  • Top circle: light flashes every 2 seconds; ‘on’ 1-second, ‘off’ 1-second
  • 1st row: hour of day in 5-hour increments, up to 20
  • 2nd row: hour of day in 1-hour increments, up to 4
  • 3rd row: minutes in 5-minute increments, up to 55
  • 4th row: minutes in 1-minute increments, up to 4

Time shown in the above featured image is 1310 hours or 110pm, which breaks down as (2 x 5) + (3 x 1) hours and (2 x 5) + (0 x 1) minutes.

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Bayerische Vertretung, Behrenstrasse 21, Euler-Haus, Berlin Mitte, Germany,

Berlin Mitte ‘Math’: where Euler lived for 23 years

In Berlin Mitte at address Behrenstrasse 21 is the Bayerische Vertretung, whose functions are described as “… die Aussenstelle der Staatskanzlei in der Bundeshauptstadt,” or “branch office of the Bavarian State Chancellery in the German capital.”

Swiss scientist Leonhard Euler spent some 20 years (1743-1766) in Berlin, living in this very building and working at the Académie Royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres de Prusse (now, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences). Euler’s name is very familiar to anyone who’s encountered and studied mathematics and physics. He is well known for his study and work in the fields of physics, astronomy, and engineering. But for his contributions to notation, functional analysis, number theory, and graph theory, Euler is considered one of the greatest mathematicians in history. Euler departed Berlin in 1766, accepting an invitation from Russia’s Catherine the Great to return to St. Petersburg where he remained for the rest of his life.

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