Experiencing mathematical proves syntax of an astrolabe
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Azra Aksamija and George Stiny.
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The goal of thesis is discussing the way historical scientific instruments are exhibited in Art or Science Museums. The astrolabe and the related mathematical theories, as developed in the Arabic and Persian tradition between X-XI Century, are taken as emblematic case for this analysis. The proposed solution is the design of museum spaces which translate the language of this instruments through the syntax of the space itself. The debate has its premise in Benjamin' concept of historical experience which is essential not only for clarifying our approach to the discipline of History of Science but it is also a pivotal point for addressing the question of how we can understand these objects. A historical scientific instrument is the by-product of the scientific knowledge of a specific time and place. It is a synthesis, a representation which concentrate the plurality/multiplicity of knowledge in the materiality of one object, it is the picture of Benjamin's Concept of History. The knowledge the astrolabe embeds is the scientific knowledge of the Arabic and Persian mathematicians of X-XI century and its construction is a tangible proof of the exactness of mathematical theorems it relies on. Hence, the language of this object has to be the language of mathematics. Its terms and primitives compose the grammar of the axiomatic method (derived from Euclid) and the proof is the syntax of this linguistic system. The design proposes a three-dimensional version of mathematical proofs of some of the theorems used for the construction and functioning of the astrolabe. It is an attempt of bringing the proof from the two-dimension of the paper to the three-dimension of the visitor in order to provide him an experience that is the spatial experience of a proof brought in his three-dimension. The architecture visualize the process of reasoning of the mathematicians by creating a space that looks like a sketch. The sketch is tool we use for visualizing our process of reasoning, hence the design has to follow the "rules" of sketching and materialize its lines.
Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2016."June 2016." Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 96-99).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology