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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Book Review – Mathematics : How it Shaped Our World by David Rooney (Scala Arts and Heritage Publishers Ltd)

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Mathematics is often accused of being remote from everyday life, however this book and  the Science Museum’s landmark new Mathematics: The Winton Gallery due to open in December 2016 provide evidence that mathematical work underpins some of our most fundamental human concerns.

Mathematics : How it Shaped Our World by David Rooney explores the collections of the Science Museum to understand how 400 years of mathematical practice have shaped  human activities including war, peace, money and trade.

The author considers that Mathematics is often too rigidly defined around theorems and practice which obscures the way that mathematical practice is fundamental in our everyday life. The author quotes historian Stephen Johnson who considers that recent specialisations in Mathematics  is at odds with the Renaissance concept of the discipline, ‘Mathematics then incorporated not only elements that we would now recognise as mathematics but a host of other activities and arts that today are seen belonging to science and technology’.

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The book adopts this wider concept in the first few chapters when exploring Trade and Travel, War and Peace, Money, Life and Death, Form and Beauty, Maps and Models.

Underlying many of these subjects is the idea of measurement, empires have been born and lost on the back of trade and central to many empires has been the standardisation of weights, volume and length. In the 17th,18th and 19th centuries, the increasing importance of international maritime trade depended on the ability to have accurate navigation and map making of new lands. Longitude in particular was a considerable problem which led to considerable loss of ships and lives.

Colonial conquest often led to conflict and it is often said that war provides many elements that favours innovation. The chapter on War and Peace illustrates how the technologies of war in the 20th century led to the development of computing and electronics.

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Money is central to all economies and mathematics is fundamental to the smooth running of many aspects of those economies. The chapter on Money looks at the tools of mathematics including the abacus, Samuel Morland’s calculating machine from the 17th century and the pocket calculator. However it was not just the tools but the mathematical models that have become central to understanding the economics of the 20th and 21st centuries.

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If you think Mathematics is not a matter of life and death, chapter four provides plenty of evidence that it has become central to the understanding of medical and insurance statistics. In the 19th century in particular, many reformers used statistics to expose many social problems. Whilst most of these reforms provided social benefits, the work of Francis Galton and the ‘eugenics’ movement exposed more disturbing elements of social engineering.

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Few would describe Mathematics ‘ beautiful’, however the chapter on Form and Beauty explores how the use of geometrical rules of proportion reveals the beauty of nature and have been a useful tool for designing buildings. Perspective has also played a major role in the history of art and the design of gardens, the major formal gardens of the 17th and 18th centuries were designed to express harmony with nature using mathematical symmetry.

The chapter on Maps and Models illustrates that human beings for thousands of years have attempted to map the heavens and the earth. Greek mathematician Euclid’s use of geometry was adopted by many and inspired a number of technological advances to refine the measurement of space and time. The power of computers have revolutionised the ability to apply mathematics to particular problems and develop models to provide solutions.

A series of essays at the end of the book by Jim Bennett, Patricia Fara, June Barrow –Brown, Dame Celia Hoyles and Helen Wilson attempt to consider the past of mathematics and look how the discipline may develop in the 21st century. Hoyles and Wilson in particular, point out that mathematics is a dynamic, ever-changing discipline that is at the forefront of the digital world.

This fascinating and entertaining book challenges a number of preconceptions of the nature of mathematics. Rather than being confined to the abstract margins of everyday life, the author places mathematics at the centre of the modern world. The large number of attractive illustrations and photographs in the book provide visual evidence that mathematics have been central to many technological advances which have transformed human society. It is difficult to argue with the author who suggests the role of mathematics and mathematicians should be celebrated in a wider cultural sense and not marginalised by a rigid definition.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to buy a copy, visit the Science Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in  2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
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Exhibition Review : Robert Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern – 1st December 2016 to 2nd April 2017

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The Tate Modern presents a major exhibition of the work of Robert Rauschenberg, organised in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibition will be the most comprehensive survey of the artist’s work for 20 years.

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The exhibition begins by exploring some of Rauschenberg’s early experiments at Black Mountain College in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the college was considered one of the most progressive in the United States and attracted other artists in a number of disciplines  including John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns, David Tudor, Cy Twombly and Susan Weil.

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Even at this time, Rauschenberg was exploring the boundaries of art with his seminal Erased de Kooning Drawing and Automobile Tire Print in 1953. In 1954, he began to experiment with what would later be considered Pop Art. One of his friends, Merce Cunningham who was creating a reputation in dance  asked the artist to design a set for a new piece with music by John Cage.

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In 1954, Rauschenberg began to create ‘Combines’ that were paintings with objects added to give a more 3D effect, two of his most famous Combines are featured in the exhibition, Monogram 1955 – 59 which features a stuffed goat and Bed 1955.

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As the 1960s began, Rauschenberg like a number of other artists began to include icons of American society into his work. His preferred method of media was silkscreen on which he would include images taken from photographs. The silkscreens were very popular and raised Rauschenberg profile, successful exhibitions in New York and London was followed by success at the Venice Biennale where he became the first American to win a prize for painting.

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The 1970s saw Rauschenberg travelling the world and finding ways to explore Live performances and using technology. One of the highlights of the exhibition is Mad Muse 1968 -71 which is a large tank full of clay and water which bubbles and spurts as air is released.

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His travels continued into the 1980s and he founded the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Exchange that encourages the use of art to overcome cultural and political divides. Closer to home, a trip to his home state of Texas led to a series of works featuring discarded gas station signs and car parts.

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The artist’s later works were generally photographic with many of the works referring to pieces from his past.

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This entertaining and intriguing exhibition introduces Rauschenberg’s work to a wider audience and offers the opportunity to see some of the artist’s seminal works. From his early experimental pieces to his last works, Robert Rauschenberg explored the boundaries of art. He used a variety of media including painting, sculpture, photography, print-making, technology, stage design and performance to attempt to understand world around him. It is his originality and ability to be ahead of trends rather than following that goes some way to explain why is considered one of the most interesting American artists of the 20th century.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate Modern website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

The Kite Runner at the Wyndham’s Theatre – 10th January to 11th March 2017

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Based on Khaled Hosseini’s international best-selling novel, this popular story has now been adapted into a stage play , it follows one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption.

Afghanistan is a divided country on the verge of war and two childhood friends are about to be torn apart. It’s a beautiful afternoon in Kabul and the skies are full of the excitement and joy of a kite flying tournament. But neither Hassan or Amir can foresee the terrible incident which will shatter their lives forever.

This play has been adapted by Matthew Spangler from the novel by Khaled Hosseini and will be directed Giles Croft.

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Theatre website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre

Thirty-five years after the original Broadway production, this UK and West End premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical Dreamgirls comes to the Savoy Theatre in November, 2016.

The production features music by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen and is based upon the rise of music acts such as ‘The Supremes’ and ‘The Shirelles’. It follows the story of a young female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois called “The Dreams”, who go on to become music superstars.

The West End production is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and will be directed and choreographed by Casey Nicolaw, whose work in the West End includes the transfers of ‘The Book of Mormon’ and ‘Aladdin’.

The score features Broadway standards such as “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”, “I Am Changing”,”Listen” and “One Night Only”.

This  new production will star Amber Riley (Glee) as Effie White, alongside Tyrone Huntley as C.C White, Adam J Bernard as Jimmy, Nicholas Bailey as Marty, Joe Aaron Reid as Curtis Taylor Jnr, Liisi LaFontaine as Deena, Ibinabo Jack as Lorrell and Lily Frazer as Michelle Morris.

The full cast will also include Jocasta Almgill, Callum Aylott, Hugo Batista, Samara Casteallo, Chloe Chambers, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Joelle Dyson, Kimmy Edwards, Candace Furbert, Nathan Graham, Ashley Luke Lloyd, Gabriel Mokake, Abiola Ogunbiyi, Sean Parkins, Kirk Patterson, Ryan Reid, Rohan Richards, Noel Samuels, Durone Stokes and Tosh Wanogho-Maud.

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Booking website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Dirty Dancing at the Phoenix Theatre – 6th to 31st December 2016

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Dirty Dancing is the live stage version of the hit film, this new production comes into London after a successful UK tour.

Dirty Dancing on stage feature all the hits from the film’s soundtrack, which includes “Do You Love Me?”, “She’s Like The Wind” and “Time Of My Life” along with some brand new numbers. The story has been specially re-written for the stage, but includes many of the favourite scenes from the film.

When ‘Baby’ Houseman falls for her dance teacher from the wrong side of the tracks, the ingredients are there for a classic love story.

Cast list:

Lewis Griffiths (Johnny Castle) Katie Hartland (Baby Houseman) Carlie Milner (Penny Johnson), Simone Craddock (Marjorie Houseman), Roger Martin (Max Kellerman), Jo Servi as (Tito Suarez), Lizzie Ottley (Lisa Houseman), Michael Kent (Billy Kostecki), Greg Fossard (Neil Kellerman), Tony Stansfield (Mr Schumacher), and Daniela Pobega (Elizabeth), and Camilla Rowland (Vivian). Also joining the company are Gabby Antrobus, Simon Campbell, Robert Colvin, Michael Cookson, Katie Eccles, Beth Highsted, Matthew James Hinchliff, Samuel John Humphreys, Megan Louch, Ashley Rumble, Callum Sterling, Austin Wilks and Karl James Wilson, who is the Alternate ‘Johnny Castle’.

 Age Restrictions: 

Recommended for 12+Children, under 5 years and babes in arms will strictly not be admitted. The show features a limited amount of mild swearing and themes of a sexual nature. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Theatre website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

Top London Christmas Lights

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On a dark cold winter’s evening, take a walk along the main shopping areas to brighten the spirit and enjoy the festive season.

Whilst many shopping areas will have lights, the most spectacular are within the West End of London.

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Oxford Street Christmas Lights – .6th November to 5th January 2017

One of the most spectacular Christmas lights and seasonal window displays are along Oxford Street. Oxford Street Christmas lights feature gold and silver baubles mixed with thousands of stars twinkling in the skies.

Regent Street Christmas Lights – 17th November to 5th January 2017

Considered the largest Christmas lights installation in London, Regent Street glows with more than 300,000 Christmas lights above the entire length of Regent Street and into Piccadilly.

Carnaby Christmas Lights – 10th November 2016 to 8th January 2017

With a nod to its heyday, Carnaby Street’s biggest Christmas display yet, looks back to the Swinging Sixties with psychedelic  colours, bright lights and iconic messages.

Bond Street Christmas Lights – 10th November 2016 to 3rd January 2017

One of London’s most luxurious shopping districts is Bond Street whose Christmas lights showcase a  peacock-themed display with more than 250,000 lights spreading across the shopping street.

Covent Garden Christmas Lights – 15th November 2016 to 8th January 2017

Covent Garden is a tourist hot spot and provides a winter wonderland over the festive period. The dazzling lights, a 22-foot (6.7 metre) reindeer, an enormous Christmas tree and much more will delight visitors.  

Southbank Centre Christmas Lights – 11th November 2016 to 25th January 2017

Take a walk along the South Bank during the countdown to Christmas, as the riverside area is beautifully illuminated with garlands of glittering Christmas lights. The annual Winter Festival at Southbank Centre creates a winter wonderland with one enormous Christmas tree  and hundreds of smaller trees along the riverfront, all decorated with thousands of lights. 

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.

Top Christmas Trees in London

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London has some of the most spectacular Christmas trees, if you are travelling around the capital over the festive season.

Here are a few to look out for.

Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

Probably the most famous Christmas tree in London is the one that stands up to 25-metres (82-feet) tall in the centre of Trafalgar Square. The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is an annual gift to London from Norway which has become a tradition since 1947.  In the run up to Christmas  expect Christmas carols around the tree and the annual lighting of the Trafalgar Christmas tree ceremony on 1 December.

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Covent Garden Christmas Tree

One of the largest Christmas trees in London is within the attractive Covent Garden Piazza, always attractively decorated with baubles, it is the focal point for other Christmas lights and decorations in the area.

St Pancras International Christmas Tree

One of the most unusual Christmas trees is often in St Pancras International railway station, last year’s stunning design was a 14-metre (46-foot) Christmas tree made from more than 2,000 Disney character soft toys. 

Southbank Centre Christmas Tree

Lighting up the South Bank is the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival with a tall Christmas the centre of a wonderful winter wonderland. 

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.