Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime! And, by all means, let's hear from you by leaving a comment at the end of any post. THE MOTIVATION: I firmly believe that if I have felt, experienced or questioned something in life, then surely others must have too. That's what this blog is all about -- hopefully relating in some meaningful way -- sharing, if you will, on subjects of an inspirational and human interest nature. Nostalgia will frequently find its way into some of the items...And lots of food for thought. A work in progress, to be sure.

27 September, 2014


Mike Sterling shows his musical instrument invention, the 'Bernoulli', to Eli and Dalia Maor
I like interesting people, especially those who think outside (or beyond) the box...The inventive and creative Mike Sterling of Southampton is one of those guys!

Most mathematical and musical heroes for Mike are lost in the annals of history, except for one, Eli Maor, a historian of mathematics, the author of several books on the subject and an in-demand lecturer and speaker. With a PhD from the Israel Institute of Technology, he teaches the history of mathematics at Loyola University of Chicago and was the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica article on trigonometry, as well as being a contributor to the esteemed publication.

Mike was anxious to exchange notes with the man whose thesis for his PhD, based on using mathematics to solve musical acoustic problems, reflected his own intense interest in the relationship between science and arts, particularly music.

Maor's article, "What is There so Mathematical about Music" received the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics award for being the best article on teaching the applications of mathematics. He and his wife, Dalia, who is an engineer, also have a fascination with astronomy and have traveled the world chasing eclipses, as members of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Mike first learned of Maor some 10 years ago upon reading his book, "The Story of a Number". After several attempts to contact Maor, it was not until this year, 2014, that he succeeded. Sterling had been working on a musical instrument based on mathematics and sent an outline of his project to Maor who immediately became intrigued.  Mike's persistence had paid off.

"I receive many messages through my printing firm, Princeton University Press," said Maor, "but Mike's message and what he was doing definitely drew my attention."
Mike Sterling and Eli Maor discuss the mathematical
intricacies of another potential instrument that Sterling
is creating called "The Bernoulli Involute"
So intrigued was Maor, that he and his wife drove from their home in Chicago to Southampton to meet Mike and see first-hand his ingenious mathematical musical invention and some of his other brilliant contributions to the local museum where Sterling had his unique 'Bernoulli' instrument set up for the Maors, in addition to mathematical graphics set to music that he has designed.

Both the Maors were inquisitive about their surroundings and, although only spending one day in Southampton, took advantage of their time in the community to tour the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre, the Bruce Power Visitors' Centre, the boardwalk on the beach and the Saugeen First Nation Amphitheatre dry-stone wall project.

"It dawned on me", Mike said, "that Eli saw what others do not see. He sees beneath the surface and knows the relationship of objects one to another and he sees the world as a wonder.  The world is written about best in terms of mathematics. Words bind the hidden concepts by the mathematics that embody them,  It's a way of thinking and expressing oneself with precision. Eli, does just that.

His world view is vibrant and different from ours. It's like he has x-ray vision of a special type. He sees through the haze of reality into the essence. "

"We will definitely be returning to Southampton when we have a chance," said Maor. "It is a beautiful place with so many interesting features. The museum is amazing and we would like to spend an entire day there."

It goes without saying that they would also like to spend some more time with Mike Sterling...He'd no doubt have another invention to show them on their next visit.

I would explain a little more about the Mike's "Bernoulli" musical instrument, but it is beyond my comprehension -- as is the guy who invented it. Maybe I'll get him to write something about it for me, in dumbed-down terms that mere mortals can understand.

Where did Mike get the name "Bermoulli" for his instrument? What I can tell you is that Daniel Bernoulli FRS (/bərˈnli/; Swiss [bɛʁˈnʊli];[1] 8 February 1700 – 17 March 1782) was a Swiss mathematician and physicist and was one of the many prominent mathematicians in the Bernoulli family. He is particularly remembered for his applications of mathematics to mechanics, especially fluid mechanics, and for his pioneering work in probability and statistics. His name is commemorated in the Bernoulli principle, a particular example of the conservation of energy, which describes the mathematics of the mechanism underlying the operation of two important technologies of the 20th century: the carburetor and the airplane wing.

Mike Sterling explains how he crafted the replica cannons on the deck 
of the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre's H.M.S. General 
Hunter British war ship commemorating the War of 1812.

And another interesting project...The Helix

A giant 15-foot-high helix made from the anchor chain of an 1866 schooner rises majestically on an outdoor alcove at the new Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre in Southampton.

This unique double-helix sculpture, named The Renewal, is another brainchild of Mike Sterling, one of many volunteers from the Southampton Propeller Club who value and honour the marine heritage along the Lake Huron and Georgian Bay coasts.

The chain was originally salvaged along the Lake Huron shoreline near MacGregor Point. It came from the 120-foot schooner, AZOV, which sprang a leak on October 12, 1911. The captain and crew abandoned ship and the schooner drifted across Lake Huron as a ghost ship, finally coming aground at MacGregor Point, just south of neighbouring Port Elgin.
Mike explains towering helix to museum vistors.

The sculpture has two helical strands winding 270 degrees from base to top and measuring 19 feet each. The links of the chain are huge, each measuring seven inches long by five inches wide with a girth of 1.5 inches. Total weight of the chain is 800 pounds.

“The shape is beautiful and can be seen for just that, without knowing the background or the inner meaning,” says Sterling, who, along with Giles Roy, worked on a full-scale wood model to establish the proper sight lines. To both men, the inner meaning of the sculpture is a fitting symbol of everything they value about Bruce County life.

The creative beginning of the anchor chain helix has its roots firmly embedded in Sterling’s life as a mathematician, studying shapes and the mathematics of producing them. He reaches his third floor study in Southampton by climbing a helical staircase. At the top, pictures of renowned scientists Albert Einstein and Dr. James D. Watson are linked with a small length of chain to depict the connection between these two men and their epic findings.

Sterling and Giles believe the “inner meaning” of the AZOV helix is many things.

It’s a symbol of renewal through all of Bruce County as well as the newly expanded and enriched museum. It also depicts “our tight connection with Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, which are at the core of our love for the area.”

“An anchor chain is on the seam of safety and danger, and helps us visualize our ancestors who braved the harsh waters and environment. The chain of life was sometimes held together by a blacksmith’s art.”

See what I mean about this guy and his ability to think beyond the scope of the average person?

Mike Sterling was given the Canadian Museums Association & Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums Award for 2012.

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