Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Old technology and new applications

We came back to Munich so that we could have a little more time at the Deutsches Museum. With over 50 exhibit sections spread over 47,000 square metres, this is one of the world's largest museums. And as they like to say, a technical museum is never complete because with the changes of time, the exhibits are constantly evolving! Last time we were here we spent all of our hours at the Astronomy exhibit and the Planetarium. This time we are determined to see more!!

We begin with Bridge building and hydraulic engineering. Now, bridges have always fascinated me and the new construction techniques are nothing short of amazing. These days, Michael too snaps photos of all the different bridges we pass under or cross over. There are lots of references to the great bridges of the world and how early planning and construction is still used either fully or as a part of new ways, and as we walk around the displays we realise that we have seen more than 90% of the bridges cited - in their actual settings! Their dioramas and models are not bad either! The first hour is spent here - gosh, we will have to pull finger out if we want to get through all we came to see today.

Next stop is to have a look at the Museum's model of Foucault's pendulum. It is smaller than the one we saw at the Cathedral in Bologna, but probably more impressive because you can get well above it and look down on it in motion rather than just viewing it from side on. We watch for a few minutes and actually get to see one of the markers fall. The pendulum hangs in the tower on a line that is 7 stories high. For those who forget, this is the experiment that demonstrates the rotation of the earth. And just as the earth doesn't stand still, neither does time, and nor should we!

Up on the next floor is the first of the Musical Instruments displays. The setting is a beautiful parlour with egg-shell blue coloured walls and white stucco mouldings. In here we find keyboard instruments dating back to 14th century. And then there is the trumpet from the 1930's that looks like a lily!

Then it is through to the Foto and film section and with the many many thousands of photos we have taken on this trip, you could be forgiven to think that we lost our concept of space and time here! But no, we have a walk through look, learning how man conquered the sciences to allow us to record all our favourite things on film - still and moving. There are many references to the Lumiere Brothers and the breakthroughs that they made in the development of colour film and moving pictures. And again, we have seen much of their work they left us in their house that is now a museum in Lyon. In the latest state-of-the-art technologies there are huge touch panels set in the centre of the room where you can learn more about the exhibits. Think about all those futuristic shows where city maps come to life on glass screens at a touch and you will know what I am referring to.

A walk through the Textiles exhibit it shows us just how far we have come in using raw products to clothe ourselves and how synthetics have taken us even further. It is true that necessity is the mother of all invention and equipment such as the Spinning Jenny loom have made it affordable for us all to have clothing made of nicer fabrics. Before this, they were much coarser. Continuing to walk through the second floor we pass through first the Ceramics and then the Glass blowing and glass technologies sections.

These two sections demonstrate the age old techniques developed by early man to solve his storage needs. Lucky for us, we have seen many many examples from pre-historic pieces to Roman amphora and then to the fascinating and beautiful Murano Glass in Venice. Everywhere we go, the museums have pieces of ceramics that link the journey we have taken with man through the ages.

And it is not too far a stretch of the imagination to then link ceramics and glass to Astronautics and mans conquering of space - really, its not. Because these two substances form the basis of so much of the hardware that has been developed in the space race. For those of you who are old enough to remember, like we are, the space age and the mass and multimedia age arrived together, so the museum has a wealth of information on the development of the space industry and the exploits into outer space. They cover all the development and application of space knowledge in terms of us exploring it - from the earliest land based rocket engines to Man in Space.

At this point I went back to the car to take another cold and flu tablet (yeah, thanks Donna!)while Michael spent one last hour in the Aeronautics and Marine navigation sections. I guess the only thing that made him leave here was when they started shutting the lights as the museum closed at 5 pm. I mean, we all know about Michael and planes!!! He tells me that it is an exhibit of the German contribution to the development of aviation. Highlights included the Zeppelin displays, WWI fighter craft and the icing on his cake is a restored ME109e - his favourite of German fighter planes, and yes, it is the real McCoy not some copy. And therewere biplanes and triplanes a-plenty!

In the marine section he had to drag himself away from drooling over the WWI German U1 submarine - the first one to go into service. The fact that its neighbours included a very old barquetine that sailed in the mid 1800s as well as other old vessels was not lost on him either!

We had missed seeing the
Sendlinger Tor the last time we visited Munich so once we left the museum just after 5 pm, we drove around. This is the last remaining bastion of the walls and gates that once defended the inner sanctum of Munich and it dates from 1381. Amazing that so much of it is still standing given the recent history of Germany. Trouble was, it is now dark and so the photos can't do it justice.

There are a couple of stall vendors still open in the plaza just outside the Gate - guess that they are trying to catch commuters on their way home. Bought half a kilo of the freshest dates you can find - literally just picked, still plump and moist. We could have also got freshly roasted hot chestnuts - ah yes, winter is on the way and the countdown to the Yuletide is on.
After a search for a restaurant we found the Hackerhaus Restaurant that specialises in Bavarian favourites. Behind our table we stare dumbfounded at the largest beer stein we have ever seen and wonder just how many hangovers are in this behemoth!
Entree: we both start with a bowl of steaming hot Das Münchner Traditionshaus Kartoffelsuppe mit Speck (Traditional Munich potato soup with bacon)
Schmorbraten "München-Stil" in Sauce (Sauerbraten) mit Semmelknödel und gemischtem Salat (Braised beef 'Munich style' in gravy (Sauerbraten) with bread dumplings and a mixed salad) Michael
Ein halbes knusprig gebratenes Schweinefleisch knucle mit Kartoffelknödel und Krautsalat mit Speck (Half a crispy roasted pork knucle with a potato dumpling and cabbage salad with bacon) Maria

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