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Oldest seismograph of India lies in Shibpur Engineering College

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The oldest seismograph of India lies at Shibpur Engineering College, away from the public eye. The first earthquake measurement system was built by Victor Hugo Benioff and considered an original Benioff seismograph meter. Surprisingly it was buried in a building which now serves as a canteen of the Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology. Shibpur happens to be one of the oldest engineering colleges of the country. Benioff in 1932 built the first seismograph and sent it to Bengal Engineering College for constant monitoring of earthquakes in every corner of the world and register shocks and their origins in the records. Benioff was a faculty member of the California Institute and the data recorded by Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology, Shibpur was compared with the daily readings recorded in California Institute to arrive at an accurate prediction. 

The seismograph was at the geophysical laboratory, initially a part of the mathematics department of the institute which gradually became defunct after it found its way to the institute’s engineering department. The forgotten piece of history now lies unused in the canteen after the authorities took the decision of utilizing the space in a better way. A floor has also been added above the storage area of the seismograph to keep it far away from the public eye. The small door on the floor of the canteen opens to a steep, makeshift iron ladder which leads you to the 13-part seismometer lying like a neglected and dysfunctional piece of junk. 

The seismograph was attached to Nalder Brothers Clock at the registrar’s office. Unfortunately, no one could fathom the importance of this seismograph and it was there for decades in utter neglect, till Bibhor Das, the assistant registrar of the institute informed the authorities about the importance of this seismograph. The institute has now assured that it will try to bring the machine up and showcase it in a proper place, though it is uncertain whether the machine can be repaired.