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One does not simply move a museum

MIT News details some of the work required to move decades worth of artifacts from the old MIT Museum to its new digs last fall - and some of the surprising things curators found:

Among the surprises was something that the collection database described simply as a brick. “I noticed it because I tried to move it and it was a lot heavier than I thought it would be,” says Pierri. She discovered that the “brick” was part of a graphite rod created for the world's first human-made self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, at the University of Chicago in 1942.

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Comments

HBO's Chernobyl flashbacks

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Sorry, weird error when posting my comment!

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And if so, did you try to use an emoji?

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I forget the error page color, it could have been beige. But yes, there was an attempted emoji. I had a sneaking suspicion that might be the problem and so left it out on my next try.

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I’m an MIT brat, so I practically grew up running around in basement corridors, crawling on armature windings and playing with punch cards. Helping clean up the old museum sounds like a ball, but I confess, if I came across a particularly heavy brick I’d demand that someone show up with a Geiger counter post haste! LOL!

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My first thought was "demon core".

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PUT IT DOWN! PUT IT DOWN!

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It can't be that heavy. What else is inside that block?

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and just misreported. Lead would perhaps have been used as shielding.

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What’s inside that block?

Why, sir or madam, that block is just chock full of (checks notes…) Particles! Yep, (pats block approvingly) this here baby can hold so many neutrons!

(You’re right, density of graphite is something like 2.25 or so)

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It will probably need to be explained to anyone under 50. :-)

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A punch card contained instructions on how to run a large mainframe computer (or in the case of jacquard looms and player pianos, patterns or music, respectively). For computers, it was something as simple as "Hello World" or as complex as a multivariable equation.

Today, computers run off of chips that have hundreds of billions of instructions on it, and replaced punch cards, computer tape, floppy disks, and thumb drives.

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Think about he Jacquard loom and the player piano.

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Thanks for the update - forgot about those two items! I've updated my post.

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If LPs, and now cassettes, are cool again, punch cards have to be next.

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but of course only with gold-plated punch cards "for that warmer, more authentic sound".

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Congrats to Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's Employee of the Week: The inanimate carbon rod!

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Rod used to be reasonably animate - until 'the incident'.

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