LIYSF 2022: Day 8

Oxfords or brogues? Welcome to day 8 of LIYSF! Both Rhien and I went on Oxford day trips today however, each of us visited different museums.

I started my Oxford day with a tour of the History of Science museum. The highlight for me was an in-depth explanation of an astrolabe, complete with an exercise on how to use it! The astrolabe, pictured below, is known as the first “clock.” At the height of its popularity, you could calculate the time of sun set and sun rise within 2 minutes on any given day of the year! It is a very special mathematical instrument with uses in time keeping as well as astronomy! It was created by ancient Greeks and further developed by medieval Islamic academics. Something I found interesting was how accurate it was even though it was developed based on the geocentric model of the solar system put forth by Ptolemy (geocentric model placed the earth at the centre of the solar system). Of course, we now know that the sun is at the centre of our solar system so I’m surprised that even though it was based on the wrong model, it was still so accurate!

Another highlight for me was seeing Einstein’s chalkboard from his 1931 lecture on relativity at Oxford. Some scholars have noted an error in the mathematics and Einstein himself did not want the chalkboard in a museum! Seeing it was something spectacular and it goes to show that even the best physicists make mathematical errors.

After our museum visits, Rhien and I linked up again and took on the streets of Oxford! With our friends, we wandered through the streets and enjoyed some sightseeing. All the streets were very picturesque with their pastel façades and flowerbeds. We particularly enjoyed the live music on the street from the buskers.

It was a great day in Oxford! Stay tuned for Rhien’s day 9 at LIYSF.