The Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of arts and trades) is a museum in Paris dedicated to the history of engineering. It was founded in 1794. A wide variety of prototypes, instruments and models from across history, from the first (failed) attempt to build a car to a CRAY supercomputer, are housed within it. Some of the best-known objects in its collection include the original Foucault Pendulum, the model used to design the Statue of Liberty, and the Pascaline, the first mechanical calculator.
The Foucault Pendulum was used to prove that the Earth rotates during the year 1851 by Léon Foucault, a French physicist. It had a small spike attached to its underside and was hung over a floor covered with sand. As it swung back and forth the spike would make a line in the sand. Because of the Earth’s rotation, as time went on the angle of the pendulum’s swing would slowly shift. This rotation could be clearly seen in the tracks left in the sand.
The Statue of Liberty (technically named “Liberty Enlightening the World”) was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, a french sculptor, and built by Gustav Eiffel. It depicts the Roman goddess of freedom Libertas. The model Bartholdi used to design it is on display at the Musée des Arts et Métiers.
Pascaline (also known as Pascal’s Calculator, the Arithmetic Machine) is a mechanical calculator invented by the French mathematician Blaise Pascal in 1642. He was 19 when he started designing Pascaline, and originally meant for it to help his father, who worked as a tax commissioner. In 1649 he was granted a royal privilege which gave him a monopoly on calculating machines in France. He ended up building 20 Pascalines.