I was able to photograph this scientific/engineering item. I’d love to have your guesses on what this part/machine does. Maybe I’ll reveal the answer on Twitter @JeremySCook. In the mean time, take the poll after the “more” thing to see what the consensus opinion is.
If you’d like to see something that’s not quite a mechanical brain, but about as close as humanity has come, check out my article on the Curta Mechanical calculator!
Edit 5/22/2012: So most of you guessed a “vacuum assembly for press.” Congratulations, that’s correct! On the other hand, augmenting my brain with this might not help my thought process, but it would give me a mean head-butting ability.