MIT rolls out amazing artifacts for 150th birthday

Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:10am EST
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By Lauren Keiper

BOSTON (Reuters Life!) - A letter following a chance meeting with Albert Einstein and 1930s research on the perfect cup of coffee are two artifacts in an exhibit to mark the 150th anniversary of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The coffee research, which helped to reshape the food industry, and mathematician Norbert Wiener's letter are among 150 items on display at the MIT Museum.

They encompass the scientific, engineering and technological achievements of the university and its distinguished alumni, who include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and architect I.M. Pei.

But the exhibition, which is one of a series of events marking MIT's birthday on April 10, also offers a glimpse into the artistic, academic, entrepreneurial and often quirky spirit cultivated on the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus.

Susan Hockfield, MIT's 16th president, lauded the array of objects, from those that embody perfection to those that are "perfectly ridiculous."

" will never come together again quite like they have this anniversary year," said MIT Museum director John Durant at a press preview of the exhibit.

The MIT community helped craft the exhibit, offering suggestions for as many as 700 artifacts that could be included in the display, and casting votes for what they'd like to see.

The Baker House piano drop, on display with other items dubbed "Uniquely MIT", offers a glimpse into ongoing traditions on campus.   Continued...

<p>Dr. Debbie Douglas, curator of Science and Technology, touches one of William Parker's 1972 Plasma Sculptures on display at the MIT 150 Exhibition at the MIT Museum, celebrating Massachusetts Institute of Technology's 150 year anniversary, in Cambridge, Massachusetts January 7, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder</p>