Prepare to Be Shocked at the Bruce

You may be shocked to hear that Secrets of Fossil Lake has closed, but don't let that dim your bulb. An electrifying new exhibit is coming, one sure to spark your interest. Prepare your mental circuits for a higher level of voltage from Electricity, opening on May 14!

16 electrical devices + 1 room = A very complicated set-up process. Not only do the devices have to be arranged in a way that makes sense from a visual standpoint, they also have to have access to power.

Is this the best location for this device? Probably not. It definitely didn't look very impressive while turned off and in a corner. 

Eureka! A central location is perfect for the plasma tube.

A plasma tube is a great way to connect with your friends (or your boss, apparently). The central glowing electrode emits a high-voltage alternating electric current. The noble gasses that fill the tube are lower density than the atmosphere. This creates a great environment for electric discharge. When you touch the glass the plasma flows towards you. Human bodies are pretty good at conducting electricity, and electrical currents choose you as the path of least resistance. 

The other devices were no less entertaining. This one is called a Jacob's Ladder. While it may not photograph as well as the plasma tube, the expression on Dr. Ksepka's face says it all. When the button is pushed, a spark appears at the bottom. The air quickly heats around the spark and carries it upwards along the two wires, crackling all the way. 

Testing out another device, I quickly learned that I wouldn't have made a good telegraph operator. This is how you spell Bruce Museum in Morse Code: -... .-. ..- -.-. . / -- ..- ... . ..- --

Somehow, I don't think my message of "T G" will cut it. 

Now, a few days later, everything is in place. A few finishing touches need to be added, but those are just icing on the electrical cake. 

One of the best things about this exhibit is the amazing events coming with it. Keep your brain wired with our panel discussion and lecture!

- Kate Dzikiewicz, Paul Griswold Howes Fellow

Electrical Panel: A Live, Interactive Conversation

Join us for a panel discussion with experts in the science and history of electricity. Audience members are encouraged to quiz our guests on the wide world of electrical innovation: from Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla to the future!

Light refreshments 6:30 pm; lecture 7:00 pm.

Members free, $15 non-members. Reservations required: 203-413-6757 or

Hear from scholars and scientists to learn about the development of electricity, the scientific principles that make it work, and current applications.

  • Ellen R. Cohn, Editor-in-Chief, The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Yale University
  • Dr. Paul Israel, Director and General Editor, Thomas A. Edison Papers, Rutgers University
  • Jane Alcorn, President, The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe
  • Dr. Helena Silva, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Connecticut
  • Dr. Jeffrey Denenberg, Visiting Professor and EE Chair, School of Engineering, Fairfield University

Lecture: Robots that Teach

Dr. Brian Scassellati, Professor of Computer Science, Cognitive Science and Mechanical Engineering; Director, NSF Expedition on Socially Assistive Robotics, Yale University. Socially assistive robotics (SAR) is a new field of robotics that focuses on developing robots capable of assisting users through social interaction. Professor Scassellati will highlight advances in building supportive robots for teaching skills to children.

Light refreshments served at 6:30 pm. Lecture at 7:00 pm. Museum members free, $15 non-members. Reservations required: 203-413-6757 or