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Science & Engineering Information News

Archive for the ‘Exhibits’ Category

Wilson Greatbatch Exhibit Gets a Major Facelift

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greatbatch-exhibit-webThe permanent exhibit in the Science & Engineering Information Center in Lockwood Library honoring Wilson Greatbatch, inventor of the first implantable cardiac pacemaker, has been given a dynamic new look.

The historical materials that comprise the exhibit are shown to advantage in the newly refurbished display.  They include a 1960 pacemaker potted in epoxy and coated with silicone rubber as well as one of the first programmable cardiac pacemakers dating from 1968 along with original battery packs, connection wires, and other components.  David Bertuca, Associate Librarian, Lockwood Library, is curator of the exhibit and Kim Wagner, Exhibit Support Specialist, created the overall design.

A native of Buffalo, Wilson Greatbatch was born on September 6, 1919.   He earned his bachelor of engineering degree from Cornell University in 1950 and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from UB in 1957.  Shortly after teaming up with William C. Chardack, then chief of surgery at Buffalo’s Veterans Administration Hospital, the two men on April 15, 1960, successfully implanted the first fully working pacemaker into a 77-year-old cardiac patient, Harry Hennafeld.  By 1961, Medatronics Inc. had licensed the Greatbatch-Chardack pacemaker, which dominated the field for more than a decade.

Greatbatch taught as an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UB for a number of years.  In 1981, the UB Alumni Association honored him with its Distinguished Alumni Award.  He was inducted in into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame in 1986 for his invention of the life-saving implantable cardiac pacemaker.  That same year he received the prestigious National Medal of Technology, the highest honor bestowed by the President of the United States to America’s leading innovators.

Interviewed for the March 1999 issue of IEEE Spectrum, Greatbatch talked about his first job repairing radios in a Buffalo repair shop in 1938 for $12 a week.  His personal hero was Thomas Edison and his favorite authors were Herman Melville and James Michener.  Asked what his personal philosophy was, he replied: “Don’t fear failure, don’t crave success. Just immerse yourself in the problem and work hard. The true reward is not in the results but in the doing.”

Wilson Greatbatch died at the age of 92 on September 27, 2011.

Library Exhibit: Scientific Illustration

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A new exhibit, Scientific Illustration: The Art of Looking, is on view through the Fall semester in the Science & Engineering Information Center on the 2nd floor of Silverman Library.

The exhibit follows the scientist’s gaze by looking not only at what early scientists looked at, but how they visually recorded what they saw, often creating arresting works of art in the process and providing insights into the way they thought.

As Brian J. Ford in his book, Images of Science: A History of Scientific Illustration notes, the purpose of scientific illustration is to describe and document as well as instruct, but it also serves to record the state of human understanding.

Galileo’s drawings of the moon, as seen with the aid of the newly-invented telescope

Galileo’s drawings of the moon, as seen with the aid of the newly-invented telescope

The Rhinoceros Albrecht Dürer, 1515, Woodcut

The Rhinoceros by Albrecht Dürer, 1515, Woodcut


“Food Science” Exhibit in Silverman Library

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The exhibit Food Science is on display in the Silverman Library in Capen Hall on the 2nd floor in the  display cases located at the back of the room.  Each case has a different food-related story to tell.

Exhibit Case #1, Frankenfoods? The Debate Over Genetically Modified Foods, examines the drama being played out worldwide over the real and perceived risks and benefits of biotechnology and presents some of the scientific and ethical issues of agricultural biotechnology, advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified crops, the economic and socio-political issues associated with increasing corporate control of our food supply, and the ethics of modifying the genes of an organism.

Exhibit Case #2, The Chemistry of Thanksgiving Dinner, “takes apart” this iconic holiday meal, exploring the chemicals in it and some of the chemical processes that lend it its taste, color, consistency, texture, and after-effects.  Find out what gives cranberry its characteristic, deep ruby-red color and why it is that we may feel sleepy after eating Thanksgiving dinner.

Exhibit Case #3, How Much Carbon Dioxide is Produced in Making a Single Potato Chip? explores the concept of the carbon footprint of foods and calculates how much carbon dioxide is produced in the making of a single potato chip.

Library Exhibit: Treasures of the Earth: Rocks and Minerals from Around the World

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A colorful selection of rock and mineral specimens from the personal collection of UB Associate Librarian Jill Hackenberg, “Treasures of the Earth: Rocks and Minerals from Around the World”, is on display in Silverman Library, Capen Hall, North Campus. The exhibit features clusters of minerals from various locations, including Russia, Australia and Arizona, and includes some unusual specimens that visitors may not have previously encountered. Over 100 items are on display in this exhibit on the 2nd floor of Capen HallAgate Slab.

Jill’s interest in rocks and minerals dates back to her childhood. “I’ve always loved gemstones,” she notes. “I majored in geology at the University of Pittsburgh, though eventually decided I’d rather enjoy minerals in a museum or my personal collection, rather than going out in the field digging for them. My focus now is on adding unusual items to my collection, rather than specimens which I already own.”

Her advice to others interested in starting their own rock collection? Visit local trade shows, such as those listed at: Buy what you truly love, or just enjoy with your eyes, without buying; it helps with the backache that can result from multiple purchases at these shows! Also, label/document everything; as your collection grows, it may prove difficult to remember what’s what.

If you have your own collection of stones, or merely an interest in geology, consider joining the Buffalo Geological Society This organization sponsors the annual Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show at the Erie County Fairgrounds.

History of Technology in WNY Library Exhibit

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A new exhibit in Silverman Library offers a glimpse into Western New York’s rich industrial heritage.

Researched and written by Nancy Schiller, Engineering Librarian, and produced by Rose Orcutt, Architecture & Planning Librarian, History of Technology in Western New York  pays homage to Buffalo’s iconic grain elevators, to Pierce-Arrow and its sleek automobiles and even sleeker advertising, to the  region’s contributions to early aviation, and to the massive steel mills in Lackawanna and the men and women who labored in them.

Images, photographs, and text featured in the exhibit recall a time when 50 percent of Buffalo’s population was engaged in industrial endeavors of one sort or another – and factories, grain elevators, breweries, blast furnaces, and steel refineries dotted the local landscape.

Inspiration for the exhibit came from a recent Honors Seminar taught by Professor John Van Benschoten, UB Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering.  The course explored the role of Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Western New York in our nation’s history, and provided students with an opportunity to consider the history of Western New York and its future through an understanding of technology – and the benefits and costs that come with it.

The exhibit is located on the 2nd floor of Silverman Library in Capen Hall on UB’s North Campus and is open during regular library hours. It runs through May 31, 2012.