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"Must See" MIT

International Scholars > Experience American Culture >"Must See" MIT

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"Must See" MIT

Did you know about MIT’s connection to Sir Isaac Newton and his formulation of the theory of gravity? Newton came to his famous conclusions about gravity in the 17th century, nearly two centuries before MIT was even founded. It is a little-known fact, even to those who work at MIT, that in the little courtyard outside Building 13 is a tree directly descended from that which produced the apple that allegedly inspired Newton. Seeing the falling apple helped enlighten his assumptions about falling objects being drawn to the center of the earth.

To see amazing art and extraordinary achievements in science, you only need take a few steps in any direction on campus. You can start with a campus tour led by the Information Center (Building 7 lobby) in order to become familiar with the buildings, layout, and offerings on campus. Then return to places that caught your attention, like the Infinite Corridor for example, especially in mid-November or late January (and you can discover what MITHenge is). Once you have a better idea of what is available, you can visit MIT’s famous public art collection and campus buildings to at your own pace. It seems every building has its own unique exhibits and history. There are electronic inventions in the Media Laboratory (Building E14), beautifully scaled ship and boat models in the Hart Nautical Gallery (Building 5), Jacques Cousteau’s underwater camera and interactive exhibits in the Edgerton Center, and so much more.

The staff members of the International Scholars Office have their own ideas about what is fascinating here, including the architecture of the Stata Center, the labyrinth of MIT’s underground tunnels, the glass sales and exhibits of the MIT glass blowing laboratory, and the swimming pool at the fitness center. However, the one place that everyone in the office mentioned as a “must see” is the MIT Museum and its collection of amazing holograms and the kinetic sculptures of Arthur Ganson, called “Gestural Engineering.” After you have had a chance to explore the campus a bit more yourself, please let ISchO know what you consider to be “Must See MIT.”

Another interesting part of MIT is not really on the campus, but it is truly etched in MIT history and tradition, and should be considered “must know MIT.”  It has to do with what occurred on the Mass. Ave. Bridge and resulted in the invention by MIT students of a unique unit of measurement. Have you ever heard of a smoot? Follow the link to discover this endearing episode in MIT history.

Throughout the campus, you may see signs of famous student practical jokes, known as “hacks.” MIT’s clever science and engineering students have created some of the most incredible installations ever seen (British phone booth on top of the dome, an upside down living room known as the Upside Down Lounge, a weather balloon buried in the ground that inflated during an MIT vs. Harvard football game). Several of these are documented in exhibits and descriptions on display in the Stata Center. All of them are photographed and there are stories told in the popular book Night Work available at the MIT Press Bookstore and the Coop (students install their giant objects and pranks under the cover of night).

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Last Updated: July 2019

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