Amazing Places

Chicago's Hotel EMC2 Is Themed Around Math's Greatest Woman

If you're a diehard music fan, you can always stay in a rock 'n' roll themed hotel. If you're Disney-obsessed, you have your pick of Mickey-centric resorts. But what if you just love math and science? Accommodations for that particular passion have been hard to come by—until 2017, that is, when Hotel EMC2 opened in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood. The space isn't just STEM-themed; it's entirely designed to honor Emmy Noether, one of science and math history's most overlooked influencers.

Noether's Theorem

Press 1 For The Scientist In Residence

If you were ever confused about which hotel you walked into, Hotel EMC2 makes sure you know the moment you get a glimpse of the lobby. Greeting you is a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci: "Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else."

Those words go beyond just being inspirational; they're the essence of the interior design. The Marriott Autograph Collection hotel actually commissioned The Scientist in Residence at The Art Institute of Chicago, Eugenia Cheng, to be their own Scientist in Residence at Hotel EMC2. Her influence can be seen throughout the hotel, especially in chalkboard art pieces that tell the stories of Noether's life and work. One series uses brilliant color and easy-to-follow diagrams to explain the laws of symmetry, Noether's crowning achievement. In others, you learn more about the woman and mathematician in vibrant detail.

"The Most Significant Creative Mathematical Genius"

Born in Germany in 1882, Emmy Noether didn't study mathematics as a child, preferring to focus on learning foreign languages. Her father was a math professor at the local university, however, so it was no surprise that at 18, she expressed a wish to take college math classes. Although there were rules against women enrolling in college, Noether stormed ahead and eventually received her PhD with a dissertation on abstract algebra.

When she came to the United States from Germany, she collaborated with some of math's most important figures. One of those was none other than Albert Einstein, who she helped develop the general theory of relativity — the same equation that inspired this hotel's name. It's no wonder, then, that she is widely considered the most important woman in math history.

Despite being described by Einstein as "the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began," Emmy Noether's name remains in obscurity. But that could be changing today—at the very least for all the people who stay at Hotel EMC2 and feel inspired to share her story.

Dr. Eugenia Cheng at Hotel EMC2

Written by Mike Epifani June 12, 2017

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