Without Professor Robin Johnson there would be no ‘centre piece’ map in the exhibition, Robin was able to enlighten and elucidate on the maths Charles Hutton used in inventing lines of equal altitude. As Nevil Maskelyne – the Astronomer Royal – needed Hutton, so I have needed the Professor to help me re-create Hutton’s missing map (and 3d model).
Last night to a packed hall, Robin gave a talk: Charles Hutton: scientist, mathematician and the density of the Earth (a copy of it is available through this link: Charles Hutton)
Hutton would not have recognised the title “British inventor of contour lines“. Mathematician, scientist even natural philosopher are descriptions he would have understood. Robin talked us through his humble origins in the mining community of Newcastle, through the ‘accident’ that led to his schooling, his mentors, and the range of mathematical conundrums he was involved in. It was both fascinating and remarkable how much material Robin uncovered that I had missed.
One of the many joys of this project has been encountering professionals both curious enough and generous with their time; they have enhanced the research and opened new avenues in both breadth and depth. And it was great to see so many of them at the Opening.
Next up is a ‘fantasy maps’ free drop-in at the Lit and Phil this Saturday 10 till noon, if you have young children interested in creative thinking and making things do call by.