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The Curiosity Cabinet Collection

Website highlights the science behind the unusual objects amassed by chemist T. Ross Kelly

by Bethany Halford
December 8, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 49


T. Ross Kelly
Credit: Lee Pellegrini/Boston College
Boston College chemistry professor T. Ross Kelly sits with eight objects from his collection of curiosities.
Credit: Lee Pellegrini/Boston College

Thirty years ago, chemistry professor T. Ross Kelly spotted an unusual object in a newspaper shop in Milan, Italy: a small, plastic soccer player that danced while a scaled-down ball nearby floated in an airstream. It enchanted Kelly, so he brought it back to his office at Boston College. In the intervening years, Kelly has collected about 75 different devices, gadgets, and gizmos that, like the soccer player, each illustrate a different scientific principle. Download a pdf of this article to see some of these items.

Until now, only visitors to Kelly’s office got to see the objects. Thanks to the help of two undergraduates, Jaclyn Lundberg and Omar A. Khan, anyone with an Internet connection can now get a glimpse of Kelly’s collection of scientific curiosities. Last year, Lundberg and Khan began working with Kelly to create a website of videos explaining how a number of the objects in Kelly’s office work. They hope students around the world will use the site——to learn about science.


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