Pacemaker Transistors

Here’s a bit of a whimsical piece as a dreary winter lingers. This small, almost cartoonish monster-looking face is made of pacemaker parts encased in resin. It was given to The Bakken along with several pacemakers and related items from an early Medtronic employee who had received the figure as

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Magnes Sive, de Arte Magnetica Opus Tripartitum

In the mid-17th century, Athanasius Kircher tried to create a unified theory that explained how the world fundamentally worked. After years of trying to figure out what made the world work, Kircher believed he found the answer—magnetism. He believed it was magnetism that literally held the world together. But magnetism

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Speculum Naturale

This book, handwritten by Belgian monks in 1280, is the oldest piece in The Bakken Museum’s collections. Well, technically, it’s tied for oldest with the other volume in the collections. The books themselves are part of a 3-volume set that described the natural world as comprehensively as late-13th century monks

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Whale EKG

This plunger’s been on a high seas adventure. Suspended over the water at the end of a long pole held by a scientist in a small boat, this plunger was meant to gently attach to the side of a whale. This plunger had actually been converted to transmit information about

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Theory of the World

Can the world be captured by a string of symbols? For this late-18th century manuscript, a list of symbols was key to understanding its theory of the world, the title’s namesake. Text and symbols are interwoven throughout the manuscript, its author crafting what he believed was an important breakthrough in

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Electrosleep Machine Prototype

While “electrical stimulation” probably makes most people think about shocks and jolts, this device actually uses electrical stimulation to help people fall asleep. The trick is this device sends very gentle pulses rather than discharges that cause shocks. This particular device is the prototype for the first electrosleep machine made

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Cole’s Radium Water

Soon after Marie and Pierre Curie discovered Radium in 1898, doctors figured out radium-steeped water could be used to successfully treat cancer. If radium water could do that, folks wondered, what else could it do? Around the country, stories spread of ordinary people becoming extraordinary by drinking radium water. But

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The Master Key: An Electrical Fairy Tale

L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, wrote this “electrical fairy tale,” dedicating it to his teenage son, Robert. The main character, also a young boy, experiments with electricity, wires, and batteries. When he accidentally touches the “Master Key of Electricity,” he is granted gifts of

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Electropsychometer

Electropsychometer

Originally designed and built in the 1940s, chiropractor Volney Mathison used his device, commonly known as an E-meter, to measure the “degree of physic trauma” of his patients. The machine uses electricity to measure physiological responses of the body and relates them to supposed psychological conditions. In the 1950s, L.

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Earth Inductor

Designed by Charles Edouard Joseph Delzenne in the 1840s, this demonstration device from around the turn of the 20th century can be used to indicate the presence and orientation of the Earth’s magnetic field. By spinning the round coil of wire, a voltage is produced at the copper brushes attached

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