Discovering the Beauty of Science - Introduction

Christine Latulippe (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona) and Joe Latulippe (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona)

The Huntington Library field trip was exciting and even more fun than I had imagined. During the experience I felt more connected to the mathematics community than I ever had before.

- Graduate Student, Cal Poly Pomona

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens are located in San Marino, California, about a 30 minute drive east of downtown Los Angeles. The Huntington is home to many literary and artistic treasures such as a Gutenberg Bible, an Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, and Lawrence’s Pinkie to name a few. Although these items deserve special attention, and a day could be spent in the gardens alone, we are particularly interested in the new exhibit found in the Dibner Hall of the History of Science, “Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World.” In Spring 2009 we visited the Huntington with students enrolled in a graduate level history of mathematics course at Cal Poly Pomona. This article describes the Beautiful Science exhibit, some background on the course, and some suggestions for creating your own math history field trip.

Astronomy room at Huntington

Figure 1. An exhibit on early telescopes in the Astronomy Gallery of the Beautiful Science exhibit (© The Huntington Library)