25.11.2010

What moves us.

Cars, bicycles, planes or even space shuttles: There are virtually no limits to mobility nowadays, and if there are limits, they will be broken time and time again. Mobility and the meaningful use of physical forces – if human or with tools and machines – has been in focus for the human race for centuries.

&-inspire, heller & partner’s further education club, with its annual motto concerning mobility, occupied itself with this development and had a close look at the driving forces since the beginning of their history during its visit to the „Deutsches Museum“.

At the beginning of this development there was sheer muscle power, of humans and animals. The required power made man inventive and continuously drove development forward. Animals were harnessed into oversize treadmills, and also slaves or criminals had to exercise their muscles to generate power.

Over the centuries, people have known how to use water and wind as energy sources for their inventions. No matter if with water wheels, wind turbines or sailing ships. The inexhaustible energy resources served as safe power sources – and they still do.

Although the first steam engine had been invented by James Watt in the early 19th century, mass utilization only followed a century later. The invention was just too expensive. The result: inventors puzzled over first engines for small companies. And so the first combustion engine came to be, built by E. Lenoir in 1860.

And this was only the beginning for combustion engines: Nikolaus August Otto invented the four-stroke engine (1860), Karl Benz the two-stroke petrol engine (1879) and Rudolf Diesel followed with his diesel engine in 1897.

The foundation stone was laid for fast, easy and financially affordable motion – without human muscle power.

Brightly polished, the highlights of automotive history are displayed in the „Deutsches Museum Verkehrszentrum“ at the Theresienhöhe. What you can see there is, for example, the original Benz patent motor car from the year 1886, which was the first functional automobile with petrol engine. But it was a long way for mankind until the first trial run with this specimen – with setbacks, but also with small, continuous steps to success. And the car was only at the end of a long and exciting development.

The permanent exhibition in hall 3 of the Verkehrszentrum is dedicated to this development. It documents the human desire for movement, the enjoyable, speedy side of mobility, but also the technical tools man created to move forward more effectively. Especially the 19th and 20th century brought forth many innovations in the field of vehicles. Among these milestones was, for instance, the teardrop car, an automobile by Edmund Rumpler from the 1920s whose streamlined shape gave it its name. Because of technical, but also because of marketing problems no real commercial success set in. Only about 100 items of the teardrop car were built in Berlin, two of which are extant today.

The small one-person car, designed by Rudolf Slaby and driven by an electric motor, also caused a sensation in the early 1920s. The first serial motorbike in the world was presented by Hildebrand & Wolfmüller in 1894. 2,5 hp marked the start into a time when the motorbike served as mass means of transport – up to the 1950s.

As a visitor to the exhibition one also takes a glance at today’s situation: how can the world cope with the high traffic volume, and how with too little parking space? What consequences does the high quantity of emissions have on the climate and what happens to the masses of car scrap? The Verkehrszentrum has the answers.

Apart from highlights concerning the pedigree of the railway, the development of the bicycle is also documented. The Verkehrszentrum presents the beginnings: the running machine (1817) or the penny-farthing (1870). The bone ice skate dating back to 600 a.d. proves that humans have always enjoyed the fun of moving. The first roller skate (1760) or the children’s pedal car from 1930 continue this history.

Strolling through the historic aviation hall of Deutsches Museum (Museumsinsel), one is compelled to cast one’s look at the sky. The halls, newly opened in 1984, allow a great insight into a time slot of civil and military aviation. Who were the pioneers of aviation and how did they manage to create airworthy corpuses that enable us today to soar into space? From 1810 to 1811 Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger, the famous tailor of Ulm, constructs his first airworthy glider, but presents it to the public under unfavourable circumstances and crashes down into the river Danube, mocked at by the people. Almost one century later, around 1903, it was the Wright brothers who built a plane that enabled a successful, lasting, controlled engine flight.

During World War One people understood that air reconnaissance is highly valuable in war strategy – the first airports and the technology of aeronautical radio were developed. The showpieces were the aviation machines by Hugo Junkers with their long military, but also civil career. Apart from their military missions, the Junkers JU became a symbol of modern civil aviation in the early 20th century.

In 1945, it was the Messerschmidt ME 262 which broke the sound barrier for the first time, albeit by mistake. Some years later, the great era of scheduled flights began. The De Havilland, Tupolew, but also Boeing models were introduced to the market. The age of wide-bodied passenger aircrafts had begun, remaining one of the most fascinating fields of aviation until today.

Where do we come from? Where are we going to? Are there any limits at all? These questions fascinate us and once you have reached a limit level of 100 kilometres above the ground, you have reached the origin – the orbit. On 3rd October, 1942 it was the A4 rocket which broke through the barrier to space as the first object constructed by man. In 1959, the Lunik 2 hits the surface of the moon and ten years later it’s Neil Armstrong who descends from Apollo 11 and becomes the first human ever to step on the moon. The development in space travel is in full swing. When will it be possible to live in space? What does this mean to us down here on earth, and is the universe infinite at all? The present leaves these questions open. The future will answer them.

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