Since we didn’t allow any time on either side of the conference for me to do any sightseeing in Dresden, I decided to take one day off to spend time with Leigh. (I went to the first morning sessions, and the poster session in the afternoon, so I wasn’t COMPLETELY playing hooky.) So to take an appropriate break from a week full of science, what did I of course decide to go see?
Ahem. That is, we went to see the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon, or the Mathematical and Scientific Instrument Museum. This was an amazing exhibit of scientific instruments through the ages. The highlight of the first room was an astronomical clock:
This device was manufactured in the late 1500s. It is astonishingly complex. In addition to being able to tell you the time, the phase of the moon, the positions of the stars, and possibly your weight, it has a Saturn hand that goes around once every twenty-six years. (Also hands for the other planets.) I want one. Also in the “things I want” category is this pocketwatch:
Known as a “Grande Complication,” this watch tells the day of the week, the phase of the moon, has a 1/5 second jump hand, a stop watch, an alarm, and makes toast. I want to use it for jam timing roller derby bouts.
Also on display were a number of historical globes, both terrestrial and celestial, clocks, adding machines, leyden jars, and other fancy schmancy scientific stuff. It’s hard to believe that pretty much all of electromagnetism was worked out in the nineteenth century using just equipment like this:
In the afternoon, we went to the old masters gallery, which did not allow photography. But we did see the famous “advertising cherubs” of Raphael. These cute little guys have hawked everything from coffee to Coca-Cola. Also Jesus.
I’ll let Leigh talk about how we spent Tuesday evening.