I woke up on my first full day in Europe to discover a snow squall right outside the window. So I promptly said “screw you, weather!”, figured out the tram system in Munich, and headed for a full day at the Deutches Museum.
As it turns out, the Deutches Museum is one of the best science and technology museums in the world located here in Munich. As I haven’t done many science-y things since getting on the road it was high time for a geek-off, and the museum was absolutely perfect for it. I am now in total love with the Deutches Museum, to the point where if they had groupies I would totally be one.
What is so cool about the Museum? In short they have everything you could imagine relating to science and technology under one roof- not just planes and ships and every physics demonstration you can imagine, but also random things like how to drill for natural gas and textile-making and printing and musical instruments. Further, American museums tend to have this habit of dumbing down their exhibits lest they scare people away- something I never understood as you can’t scare someone away who willingly paid to enter the museum in the first place- but here that is no problem. The Germans will explain everything to you with more detail than you cared to know about each object, including a brief run-through of the thrust, mass, specific heat, or how many ants it would take to carry it to Stokholm. They do this on the grounds that telling you such things about a jet engine does not make the engine any less interesting and it would probably be improper to not list such parameters anyway. I loved it.
A typical room in the Deutches Museum, this one relating to time pieces. In the front the cone is essentially a visual explanation of the arrow of time, and in the back the cabinets are filled with various clocks and such from various eras.
The world’s first commissioned German submarine, U-1, which was part of the German Army up through WWI. After this point the Allies ordered the submarine to be destroyed along with the rest of Germany’s fleet, but the Museum director convinced the powers that be that the submarine should be donated instead.
One of the world’s first radio telescope dishes, originally used for radar in the Netherlands in WWII and later used to prove the galaxy is spiral in shape. They still use it to pick up the signal from weather satellites as a demonstration.
Also, interestingly the Museum even has an amateur (Ham) radio display. Where I learned that in German amateur radio is called amateurfunk, which I am rather fond of.
The refracting telescope used by German astronomers to discover the planet Neptune. Which is a cool story for mechanics by the way- a Frenchman calculated where Neptune should be based on slight variations in Uranus’ orbit, and when the German astronomers looked the next night Neptune was exactly where the Frenchman said. As someone who has taken lots of classical mechanics, it’s a feat that makes my head spin… Also because the Germans are nice and tell me these things, it’s worth nothing that this telescope lens has the same diameter as the one I had at home in high school (8″, or ~20cm). I could spot Neptune pretty easily with that one, but it’s always fun to realize how the state of the art 150 years ago now qualifies as an amateur’s telescope.
Posing in front of a replica of the Apollo 8 capsule in what I came to think of as the Air and Space Museum equivalent for the Deutches Museum. Lots of pretty airplanes with an emphasis on ones with Norman crosses on them instead of stars and stripes, obviously. It’s not like a German science and technology museum would have a lack of homemade things to put on display.
A glassblowing demonstration, which is one of several various trades highlighted in the museum. Curiously placed right next to an exhibit explaining geographical surveying and a replica cave like the ones where they found Stone Age paintings, in case the haphazard nature of trying to cover everything under one roof hasn’t been made clear yet. I suspect this is a reason I liked it so much- one step in another direction and you had a fresh topic to examine, usually quite unlike the previous one.
I could go on as this was obviously a very fun day for me, but I the Deutches Museum tower is where I will leave off. Because those are not clocks on the side of the building but rather a giant barometer and hydrometer, respectively. I am a little jealous of people who get to live right next to the Museum because I don’t think I would ever tire of this (that and, well, they get to visit whenever they want).
All in all I think you can agree that I had a rather successful geek-off. If you ever come to Munich I highly recommend it, so long as you realize your feet will probably hate you after walking and standing without rest all day.