Where can I purchase mathematical examples and models in the Eames/Mathematica style?
January 30, 2012 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Where can I purchase physical mathematical examples and models in the Eames/Mathematica style?

I'd like to purchase some neat mathematical models that aren't children's toys. The aesthetic of the Eames Mathematica exhibit (wikipedia, some photos I found on Flickr (not mine)) is sort of what I'm going for, but I know a lot of my professors had these kinds of objects in their offices/etc back in college.

Either no-one's selling or I can't figure out the right search terms. Things like "mathematical manipulatives" only give me scholastic toys.
posted by j.edwards to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if the exhibit included Klein bottles, but you can purchase them here.
posted by dfriedman at 9:59 AM on January 30, 2012

It wouldn't be incredibly hard to make some of those yourself.

You can also get mathematical objects 3d printed.
posted by empath at 10:01 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Like these? or these? I searched for "mathematical sculpture" to get the first, and the second I knew about previously.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 10:02 AM on January 30, 2012

I could probably gin up some of those pseudospheres or other surface of rotations for you. Maybe up to about 4" diameter if it must be mathematically perfect or 12" if it could be done by hand (I could do a pseudosphere by hand no problem I think), out of wood.

That moebius strip train is awesome...
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:09 AM on January 30, 2012

It is possible (even easy, I'm told) to crochet a model of a hyperbolic plane. More info, some pictures (check out the ones with the lines drawn, they illustrates how triangles work on a hyperbolic space) and some available on Etsy (varying somewhat in mathematical rigor.)
posted by Wulfhere at 10:21 AM on January 30, 2012

Confirming the ease with which even a new crocheter can pull off hyperbolic planes. Good reference for this is: Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes.
posted by apparently at 10:28 AM on January 30, 2012

George Hart has some for sale, though he's quite expensive.

Note that at the bottom of that page, he links to more than a dozen other artists doing similar work.

The search term "Geometric Sculpture" seems to give a lot of results for similar items and artists.
posted by bonehead at 10:31 AM on January 30, 2012

You can also make or do a LOT of cool math with paper-folding:
Hyperbolic Paraboloid
Fold yourself a Hexaflexagon, or print one of your own.

(Not really objects, but you can trisect and angle or approximate rational numbers with a square of paper too! More on the math of paper folding)
posted by Wulfhere at 10:36 AM on January 30, 2012

I'm pretty specifically looking for e.g. wooden/string sculpture (think mid-century...), not crochet/metal/glass/paper, but the links are definitely useful and inspirational!

Bonehead, some of the stuff on there is exactly what I'm looking for, though you're right about the expense. It may be that nothing like what I'm interested in is being made at the Etsy price level.
posted by j.edwards at 10:40 AM on January 30, 2012

Some additional resources I've tracked down (mostly via the International Society of the Arts, Mathematics, and Architecture website linked off the bottom of George Hart's page):
* Foster Manufacturing Co, which seems to no longer be in business.
* Tom Lechner's amazing little book Solids.
* John and Jane Kostick's custom building work

I received a message as well from someone who worked in a math department and said that a retired, wood-working professor hand-made all of their models. Maybe it's time for me to get out the old Dremel and give it a go...
posted by j.edwards at 11:39 AM on January 30, 2012

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