Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments

Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments As researchers at Harvard have advanced the sciences, the artifacts of their work continue to inform. Harvard University has been acquiring scientific instruments on a continuous basis for teaching and research since 1672.
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The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, which was established in 1948 to preserve this apparatus as a resource for teaching and research in the history of science and technology, has become one of the three largest university collections of its kind in the world. Originally associated with the Harvard library system, the Collection was placed under the stewardship of the Department of History of Science in 1987. Discover our collection online with the Waywiser database: http://dssmhi1.fas.harvard.edu/emuseumdev/code/eMuseum.asp?lang=EN

Operating as usual

11/20/2020
Thunder house

Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod, but people needed to be convinced of its value, and students wanted to learn how it worked. Enter the thunder house, made to demonstrate both the destructive power of lightning and the protective power of a properly grounded conductor. https://bit.ly/HMSCconnectsExtraordinaryThingsThunderHouses

Watch this amazing video demonstration by the Fondazione Scienza e Tecnica e Planetario di Firenze (look especially at the reactions at time stamps 1:41 & 2:06): https://bit.ly/2INoLA6 #Home #Museum30

La casa del fulmine Il modello permette di mostrare gli effetti del fulmine (simulato da una scarica di una batteria di bottiglie di Leida) su una casa munit...

We are fascinated by this vertical disk sundial with a nocturnal on the reverse from 17th century France. The suspension...
11/18/2020

We are fascinated by this vertical disk sundial with a nocturnal on the reverse from 17th century France. The suspension structure consists of two scrolling arms engraved with acanthus leaves. https://bit.ly/AcanthusSundialCHSI

This got us curious about the Acanthus plant, which is not native to New England. We found out Acanthus is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants, native to tropical and warm temperate regions, with the highest species diversity in the Mediterranean Basin and Asia. The name derives from the Greek term ἄκανθος (akanthos) for Acanthus mollis, a plant that was commonly imitated in Corinthian capitals. #HMSCconnects #Sundial #MuseumFromHome

Now here's a pen that will get you somewhere! This rule pen can attach to a compass to get even more mileage (see what w...
11/14/2020

Now here's a pen that will get you somewhere! This rule pen can attach to a compass to get even more mileage (see what we did there) out of the instrument. Explore more about other impressive objects on Waywiser: https://bit.ly/CHSIRulePen #Museum30 #Pen

Happy #XRayDay! Here's a somewhat amusing photograph featured in "Time, Life, & Matter" of an x-ray image taken by Wilhe...
11/08/2020

Happy #XRayDay! Here's a somewhat amusing photograph featured in "Time, Life, & Matter" of an x-ray image taken by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, the German physicist who received the Nobel prize 1901 for producing and detecting what he referred to as x-rays.

Following his discovery and his receipt of the prize, Röntgen was much in demand by leaders and notable personages of the time, all of whom wished to see a demonstration of the new marvel. Among those he visited were the Russian royal family, Tsar Nicholas and his wife Alexandra. This x-ray is of the Tsarina's right hand, embellished with rings and bracelets (because why bother removing them?).

By allowing the publication of such images, Röntgen insured that his discovery of the X-rays was of keen interest, both in the scientific community and popular culture of the time. Röntgen refused several offers to patent his discovery, declaring that it belonged to humanity.

Explore other x-ray-related items in the CHSI: https://bit.ly/2G6GBg1 #MuseumFromHome

After reading this you may find yourself in the market for some overshoes to protect you from the slush this winter.  Th...
11/04/2020

After reading this you may find yourself in the market for some overshoes to protect you from the slush this winter. The style of overshoe depicted here is made to come high up the ankle, with one side of the opening overlapping the other for buttoning; these are thus called "button boots." More on this object: http://bit.ly/CHSIOvershoe #Museum30 #button

Happy Halloween! We couldn't resist sharing this spooky sundial.  ☠️ This homemade compendium of sundials consists of a ...
10/31/2020

Happy Halloween! We couldn't resist sharing this spooky sundial. ☠️ This homemade compendium of sundials consists of a sleeve with a vertical plate sundial on the obverse and an horary quadrant on the reverse.

It's unique feature: space between the hour lines and other scales are filled with a skull and crossbones, and drops of blood drip from the hour lines. The message to the user? Use your time wisely, because what awaits you is death and decay. Admire this macabre object here: http://bit.ly/VerticalPlateSundialCHSI1675 #MuseumFromHome

Date: 1650-1675
Inventory Number: 7173a
Classification: Astronomical Compendium
France

Happy #NationalCatDay! For our Extraordinary Things "Big Cats, Little Cats" series we explored cats of all shapes and si...
10/29/2020

Happy #NationalCatDay! For our Extraordinary Things "Big Cats, Little Cats" series we explored cats of all shapes and sizes. https://bit.ly/HMSCBigCatsLittleCats

As we come up on Daylight Savings Time in the U.S., it seems fitting to highlight a sundial from our collection. Using a sundial sometimes seems like a more attractive way to tell time, without the need to reset the clocks twice a year, and risk oversleeping!

The sundial with the lion was made in Eichstätt, Bavaria in a valley famous for fossil-rich limestone from the Jurassic period, called the Solnhofen limestone. The limestone, which is about 155 million years old, preserves numerous fossils, including those of pterosaurs and dinosaurs. Limestone was used to craft this sundial because it has a good background color to catch the shadow when there is little sun, and it is relatively easy to carve.

Make your own paper sundial! Simply scroll down on this page to "FACTS & FUN": https://bit.ly/CHSILionSundial

Sundial, CHSI 7338, Collection of Historical Scientific instruments. Maker: G.H.W. (fl. 1730).

Happy #AnimationDay! We are celebrating the #zoetrope, which used animation to explore visual perception. This zoetrope ...
10/28/2020

Happy #AnimationDay! We are celebrating the #zoetrope, which used animation to explore visual perception. This zoetrope from the collections was created by Max Kohl in 1875, and features a reversible “movie strip” depicting “Magic Ocean” and “Chewing Gum.” http://bit.ly/CHSIZoetrope

Originally called a “wheel of the devil” by its inventor William George Horner, the zoetrope was patented in the U.S. in 1867 as a “wheel of life.” #MuseumFromHome

10/23/2020
A Selection of Images from VISUAL SCIENCE

Relax at the end of a long week with a #MuseumMomentofZen inspired by our Visual Science: The Art of Research exhibit: https://bit.ly/3oALfEp

The gallery is closed at the moment, but you can get a taste virtually by playing this slideshow featuring a selection of images from the exhibit: https://bit.ly/3dU49kQ #MuseumFromHome

These images are part of "VISUAL SCIENCE: The Art of Research," the exhibit currently ongoing in the CHSI Special Exhibitions Gallery & online here: https://...

We're going old school. Happy #WorldStatisticsDay! This Counter / Scaler Unit with NIM standard from our collection is a...
10/20/2020

We're going old school. Happy #WorldStatisticsDay! This Counter / Scaler Unit with NIM standard from our collection is a device which compiled data related to the operation of Harvard's former cyclotron, which was later used in statistical analysis in the study of high-energy physics. See more here: https://qrgo.page.link/ENFqw

Make your own camera obscura and check out our own collection. #ToyCameraDay
10/18/2020

Make your own camera obscura and check out our own collection. #ToyCameraDay

We recently featured an activity on how to make a camera obscura in our family eNews (sign up here! https://bit.ly/signupconnectsfamilies).

Many years ago, people realized that if they stood in a dark space with a small hole for light to shine through, they could see an image of the world outside projected on the inside wall of the room. This was called a camera obscura, which is Latin for “dark chamber.”

The projection they saw wasn’t exactly the same as the world outside; it was upside down and backwards! Make your own camera obscura to see this phenomenon in action.

Materials
● Cardboard tube from paper towel or toilet paper
● Scissors
● Aluminum foil
● Parchment or tracing paper
● Duct tape
● Tooth pick

Instructions
● Cut your cardboard tube into ⅔ and ⅓ sections.
● Cover one end of the long section of tube with a piece of parchment paper. Tape the parchment paper in place.
● Tape the short section of the tube onto the end of the long section, over the parchment paper. Make sure to tape all around the tube so no light shines through the place where the two sections meet.
● Cover the end of the short section of tube with the aluminum foil and tape in place.
● Use the toothpick to poke a small hole in the foil.
● Take your camera obscura outside on a sunny day. Look through the open end of the tube. Can you see anything projected on the piece of parchment paper in the middle of the tube?

Explore the camera obscuras in our @HarvardCHSI collection, including one shaped like a book! http://bit.ly/CHSICameraObscuras
#ToyCameraDay

Graphic image from The Exploratorium

Attend this FREE virtual panel discussion on Diving with a Purpose presented by CHSI, the Harvard Museums of Science & C...
10/15/2020

Attend this FREE virtual panel discussion on Diving with a Purpose presented by CHSI, the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History. More details: https://bit.ly/DivingWithAPurpose

Diving with a Purpose is an organization dedicated to the documentation and protection of African slave trade shipwrecks and the maritime history and culture of African Americans.

We are pleased to announce a special "Diving with a Purpose" virtual panel discussion taking place next Thursday, October 22nd (FREE). See more information and register here: https://bit.ly/DivingWithAPurpose

For the event Jay Haigler and Albert José Jones will share the organization’s work and recent discoveries. They will discuss the importance of submerged heritage resources in advancing the fields of maritime archaeology and ocean conservation, and the need for a better understanding of the transatlantic slave trade and its global, cultural, and social-economic impact on society. Listen to an #HMSCconnects! podcast interview with Dr. Jones: https://bit.ly/HMSCPodcastJones

Photo courtesy of Jay Haigler.

Did your parents ever tell you "it's impolite to stare"? Our instrument of the month, just in time for Halloween, is thi...
10/14/2020

Did your parents ever tell you "it's impolite to stare"? Our instrument of the month, just in time for Halloween, is this Clastic Eye Model. Tell us the most shocking or memorable Halloween costume you've ever seen in the comments. http://bit.ly/ClasticEyeModelCHSI

Here's a throwback to our "Monstrous Electrical Show!" For Halloween a few years ago we presented a re-enactment of the ...
10/08/2020
CHSI presents The Monstrous Electrical Show, part of Frankenweek 2018

Here's a throwback to our "Monstrous Electrical Show!" For Halloween a few years ago we presented a re-enactment of the spooky and shocking experiments that inspired Mary Shelley in the writing of Frankenstein 200 years ago. Experiments were performed with vintage and replica instruments by Curator Sara Schechner (a.k.a. Victoria Frankenstein, the deranged sister of Victor) and Demonstration Technician Daniel Rosenberg (a.k.a. Igor). See the footage on YouTube: http://bit.ly/MonstrousElectricalShowCHSI. Don't miss the great marshmallow vacuum experiment at 13:33! #MonsterMonth #TBT

The Monstrous Electrical Show was part of Harvard’s weeklong 2018 celebration of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein." D...

Smile, it's Friday! What do you make of Galileo Galilei's smile In this screenprinted portrait from our collection? Or b...
10/02/2020

Smile, it's Friday! What do you make of Galileo Galilei's smile In this screenprinted portrait from our collection? Or better yet, what do you make of the decorations that encircle the frame? Can you spot the scientific instruments in the border? Share your observations in the comments. http://bit.ly/GalileoGalileiCHSI #MuseumFromHome #SmileDay

While they may not swim, these gorgeous creations let us glimpse lifeforms that would otherwise remain hidden in the bri...
10/01/2020
3D images of 19th-century glass marine invertebrates go online

While they may not swim, these gorgeous creations let us glimpse lifeforms that would otherwise remain hidden in the briny deep!

Harvard has digitized 19th-century glass models of 15 marine invertebrates made by Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka. The 3D models are the result of between 250 to 700 images that had to be taken per glass piece.

Don't miss the in-depth and timely interviews with Dave Unger, Sara Schechner, Dr. Albert Jose Jones, Evelyn Hammonds, J...
10/01/2020

Don't miss the in-depth and timely interviews with Dave Unger, Sara Schechner, Dr. Albert Jose Jones, Evelyn Hammonds, John Huth, and Munazza Alam. https://hmsc.harvard.edu/podcast #InternationalPodcastDay

Happy #InternationalPodcastDay! Listen to our #HMSCconnects podcast anytime from home, on a walk, or on the road. Exhibit developer Jennifer Berglund interviews curators, collection managers, scholars, Professors, pioneers, scientists and more for a great listen about the world behind the scenes at the museums, and beyond. https://bit.ly/HMSCconnectspodcast

Last year the Gazette did a piece on us: "A collection of knowledge," following the launch of our newest exhibit “VISUAL...
09/28/2020
Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments continues to amaze

Last year the Gazette did a piece on us: "A collection of knowledge," following the launch of our newest exhibit “VISUAL SCIENCE: The Art of Research.” Read about our inception and well-known objects like our collection of sundials, the Harvard Mark I, amazing historic connections, and enjoy the online version of "VISIAL SCIENCE!" https://bit.ly/2G0QlbI

Harvard’s Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments has grown to 20,000 objects, making it one of the three largest university collections of its kind.

09/23/2020
CHSI A Brief History

Listen to Peter L. Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor & Director, Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, introduce the collection through the lens of three beloved objects in the Putnam gallery: the impressive Grand Orrery, the Astronomical Regulator clock used to synchronize train station timetables, and the Cyclotron control panel, used for physics research and proton therapy until 2002. https://bit.ly/33WMapd #MuseumFromHome

The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments (CHSI) is an assemblage of the apparatus used for scientific research at Harvard University from the late...

We're looking forward to seeing you at our virtual events this fall, including a very special lecture: "Diving with a Pu...
09/18/2020
Harvard Museums of Science & Culture

We're looking forward to seeing you at our virtual events this fall, including a very special lecture: "Diving with a Purpose: A Fifteen-Year Odyssey" in late October: http://bit.ly/DivingWithAPurpose.

Watch this space for more information on an upcoming online exhibit, The Interpretation of Dreams: Freud and the Visual Origins of Psychoanalysis.

Explore all of the HMSC events here: http://bit.ly/HMSCFall2020ProgramGuide #HMSCconnects

Although the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture are closed at the moment, we are happy to offer all virtual programs to invite people to investigate the natural world, science, and human cultures from the comfort of home (or classroom).

Our first event kicks off tonight with Apprenticeship in Ancient Egypt, followed by tomorrow's lecture with Smithsonian curator Matt Carrano. See our full lineup and registration links from our calendar at https://hmsc.harvard.edu.

In these challenging times, we also have strengthened our commitment to tackling serious issues at the forefront of our nation’s consciousness.

Harvard Business School’s Rebecca Henderson compels us to consider a bold new vision in her book Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire. In “Diving with a Purpose,” Dr. Albert José Jones and Jay Haigler offer critical insights and confront our troubling past with their archaeological investigations of slave-trade shipwrecks. Online exhibits such as Listening to Wampanoag Voices (launching on Indigenous People's Day: October 12th) and Juan Villoro’s webinar, “The Obsidian Mirror,” present enriching perspectives from America’s Indigenous peoples.

We hope to "see" you at one of our events! Explore additional details here: http://bit.ly/HMSCFall2020ProgramGuide

Don't forget about our #HMSCconnects virtual resources, available anytime: https://bit.ly/HMSCconnects.

Our theme for this week's Extraordinary Things is "Beauty and the Beholder." This elaborately designed Westinghouse cons...
09/12/2020

Our theme for this week's Extraordinary Things is "Beauty and the Beholder."

This elaborately designed Westinghouse console radio would have been used as a sample model by salesmen in about 1930. The 1920s - 1940s are often known as “The Golden Age of Radio,” and for good reason. Radio was the primary source of entertainment and information. Among the most well-known were the “Fireside Chats” of President Franklin Roosevelt, designed to update and reassure American listeners during the Depression and later, World War II. You can actually listen to these chats here: http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/firesi90.html.

What does your family do together in your home? Maybe watch a favorite TV program or play a certain game? Let us know in the comments! #HMSCconnects #MuseumFromHome

Discover more about radio history and this week's Extraodinary Things: http://bit.ly/CHSIConsoleRadio

Salesman’s Model of Console Radio
Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, circa 1930
Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments
RS0031

Take a peek at our instrument of the month! A voice key is designed to be spoken into and is used for measuring speech r...
09/09/2020

Take a peek at our instrument of the month! A voice key is designed to be spoken into and is used for measuring speech reaction time. This Dunlap-Type Voice Key was used in the Psychology Department at William James Hall to capture someone's voice as they spoke into the membrane. The air vibrations were then communicated to a pivoting contact stylus. The movements of the stylus are then transformed into electrical signals, stopping time on a chronoscope. http://bit.ly/DunlapTypeVoiceKeyCHSI

Dunlap Type Voice Key / designed by Knight Dunlap for use with Dunlap chronoscopes. CHSI Inventory Number: WJ0126.

You’ve probably heard the wailing of a siren from a fire truck. Disk sirens, like the one pictured from our collection, ...
09/04/2020

You’ve probably heard the wailing of a siren from a fire truck. Disk sirens, like the one pictured from our collection, are mechanical sirens that make sound when air is pushed through the holes while the disk is spinning. Different tones and pitches can be made by changing the spacing of the holes and how quickly the disk spins.

Experiment with pitch with this activity from our recent #HMSCconnects family eNews. All you need is a fan and a drinking straw!

Blow a strong puff of air through a drinking straw. Do you hear anything?

Switch on the fan to low speed. Hold your straw close to the fan and blow a strong puff of air through it . Do you hear anything now?

Switch the fan to high speed, hold the straw close to the fan, and blow through the straw again. How is the sound different?

The sounds we hear are made by sound waves–vibrations of moving air. When you blow into the spinning fan blades, the stream of air gets chopped up by the blades, making a repeating pattern of sound waves. The faster the blades spin, the more times the air gets chopped up per minute. This makes the pattern repeat faster, giving it a higher frequency and pitch.

Opelt siren, circa 1865, Rudolph Koenig, Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments. http://bit.ly/OpeltSirenCHSI

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Comments

Rise up!
Fantastic! You gotta see this collection; it's amazing.
Planck's constant E = hf 6 or 4 Kepler's third law in the microcosm https://youtu.be/VEjP7BdZWLY http://vixra.org/abs/1610.0103 https://doi.org/10.21267/in.2017.24.4913 Uniform Unified System of Dimensions Physical Quantities http://vixra.org/abs/1804.0105
Some photos from our visit on Sunday, 11/19