Welcome to the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) blog. The IMA is the UK's learned and professional society for mathematics and its applications. We promote mathematics research, education and careers, and the use of mathematics in business, industry and commerce. Among our activities we produce academic journals, organise conferences and engage with government.

In this blog we will publish mathematical articles and news to reflect the interests of our members who come from a multiplicity of different organisations including university academics, industrial mathematicians, financiers, school teachers, scientists, civil servants etc.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Mathematics and the Cutty Sark - London Branch Meeting

On Thursday 13th October the London Branch of the IMA had their first public meeting. This was hosted by the University of Greenwich with Professor Chris Bailey (Greenwich) speaking on the Mathematics behind the Saving of the Cutty Sark.

The talk began with a brief introduction to the ship, why it needed restoration and a glimpse of what it will look like next year - just in time for the Olympics!

Chris gave a fascinating insight into the work that his team and others had done on the conservation and preservation of the ship and the simulation models that had been designed. These mathematical models needed to analyse the stresses and strains incurred when taking the ship apart and putting it back together without causing any damage. Because no one was allowed to touch the ship before the work started, a scaled down physical model also had to be built to test results of the mathematical model. Ultrasound scans were used to see where the ship was suffering from decay and corrosion.

These modelling techniques, although common-place when designing new products, have not been widely used in the conservation of old structures. As well as the focus on restoration it was also necessary to preserve the life of the ship for future generations. Again this is established practice in the design of new equipment but much harder on something that is already very old with an unknown history.

The talk sparked a lot of interest in the audience and generated some thought provoking questions.

After the talk there was a short discussion about the future of the London Branch and the variety and timings of meetings that could be held. Further discussions concerning this continued in the Trafalgar pub.

If you were unable to come to the meeting but would like to get involved in the London Branch please email Noel-Ann Bradshaw (n.bradshaw@gre.ac.uk) who will pass your details on to those concerned.


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