Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rojo Eh - GEO 046

GEO 046
Red Mica
Class: Mineral
Location: Canada

So I hope everything went well over the weekend for those who celebrated Christmas and I got a brand new camera that has a super zoom and focus so expect some very nice pictures for the smaller objects in the museum. Also, it has a nice feature that allows me to draw a line and it gives me an exact measurement of how long it is. So I grabbed the first thing I saw in the museum that had a label and presto I present you a nice Red Mica specimen up from our neighbor to the North: Canada.

Now for those of you who know a thing or two about minerals will know that mica is just a broad term for a variety of minerals usually demonstrating very nice cleavage - meaning that they break along straight lines and in this case nice flat planes. There are two micas that are most well know, muscovite and biotite and they have a variety of uses. That being said I don't have the necessary equipment with me to determine the exact nature of this particular mica but a little bit of browsing the internet has me believing it to be Phlogopite.

If this red mica is in fact phogopite then its chemical composition is K(Mg,Fe,Mn)3(AlSi3O10)(F,OH)2. Micas are quite a useful mineral and are used in making capacitors for electrical components. If you would like more information on this particular red mica check here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas - PUB 004

PUB 004
Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians Album
Media: 33 1/3 Vinyl Record
Year: 1955
Details: Decca Records

Well I believe that this post is fitting for the eve of the biggest holiday of the year. Here is another vinyl 33 1/3 RPM record and is perfect for the Christmas season. This album entitled "'Twas the Night Before Christmas' (DL 8171) is a Christmas record from Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians including the Orchestra, Glee Club, and Soloists. This is the 1955 Decca Records version and has famous Norman Rockwell as the cover illustrator. The record has a variety of songs including 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and apparently this version is the 'definitive' version, better than his 40's and his 60's versions.

The songs it features are:
  • Jingle Bells
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
  • 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
  • Adeste Fideles (O, Come all Ye Faithful)
  • Beautiful Saviour
  • [Medley of:] The First Nowell, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Carol of the Bells
  • Cantique De Noel (O Holy Night)
  • Oh Gathering Clouds
  • Silent Night
The back of the cover has an about section which I will copy here. "Fred Waring says, 'It's been a number of years since we got together with the imaginative and talented Ken Darby on a musical setting for Clement Clarke Moore's delightful old-young ballad, but from the first season we sang it ''Twas the Night Before Christmas' has been the 'most requested' selection not only with our listeners and viewers, but with The Pennsylvanians themselves. It is one of the pieces which is great fun to perform as well as to hear. "The other selections included in this Yuletide album, you will note, are of a variety to fit the many moods and occasions of the whole Christmas season - ranging from a very jolly version of 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' and 'Santa Clause is Comin' to Town' to the majestic 'Adeste Fidelis.'
"Whether the voices and manner of children or the great breadth of the vested choir, Christmas is a time of singing - particularly of group singing. It is quite natural that our own singing organization should have, through the years, gained some traditional recognition for Christmas music. We believe that you will find in this collection - and in its companion album, 'Christmas Time' - the very best of all the Yuletide music we've done - best in selection, in performance and in fidelity of recording."""

Well I think that sums it up quite well. You can learn more about these records at this Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians forum link. And have a happy and safe holiday! To quote the namesake record:

"Merry Christmas to All! And to All a Good Night!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Roly-Poly Isopod - NH 019

NH 019
Category: Crusteceans
Family: Armadillidiidae

So we all know what these guys are, well I'm sure you all think you know what these guys are. They are known by a variety of names including pill bugs, roly polies, potato bugs, and many others but less commonly by their actual name. They are woodlice. However despite their names they are not actually bugs, nor insects for that matter - they are crustaceans and thus more closely related to crabs than millipedes. While I can't say for certain it seems as though that these two guys belong to the genus Armadillidium in the family Armadillidiidae. Just skimming the internet it's likely that they are of the species A. vulgare which is the common woodlouse originating in Europe but has since spread to the Americas.

I collected these guys under a stone slab outside of Baker Tower, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY in early September 2010. And while I have given you a species name that is only temporary as I am completely unsure about that, however I'm fairly certain of the family. If you are looking for some more information about them you can find this Pill Bug science page enlightening about their habitat, life cycles, and reproduction or you can check out the A. vulgare page for more information about that particular species.

Museum Errata

So going through some boxes I found my lot of labels and some of them belonged to items already posted. Thus I am posting this errata to add more data to three of the objects.

GEO 014 - Ruby Grains; The exact locality is named rather than going off the hunch I had and more details are given on what these exact grains would have been used for.

FOS 009 - Orthoceras; Location was 'To Be Determined' but it has since been determined. This fossil was found in Morocco and is of Devonian age.

HS 011 - Pocket Sundial; Added some more details on the uses/age of the reproduction.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Moroccan Trilobite - FOS 013

FOS 013
Location: Morocco
Family: Calymenidae
Details: mounted

Well it's getting nearer to Christmas so here is a nice large trilobite fossil just for you. Now I got this particular specimen at a yard sale, pre-mounted, and it does have a note label on the back of the wooden plaque. This trilobite belongs to the genus Diacalymene, and the label doesn't offer any species name but my research seems to point that there is only one species in this genus that being D. ouzergui. So I'm betting that it belongs to that one. However it should be noted that these particular fossils are often confused with the genus Flexicalymene, so it is possible that whoever typed up the label got the two mix-matched.

Now the label also gives a brief description on this trilobite genus. It reads "These Silurian Period trilobites lived about 425-450 million years ago. Trilobites are extinct marine Arthropods having the body divided by two furrows into three parts and found as fossils in Paleozoic rocks. These large artifacts are excellent examples displaying well this Arthropod's structural detail." This specimen, as are most from this genus, was mined in Morocco (North Africa).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Flipflash Instamatic - HS 015

HS 015
Kodak Instamatic
Era: 1970's
Details: black

So it's been awhile since I've posted up something from my camera collection. This one isn't that old, but oh well. It is a Kodak Instamatic X-15F and the model was made between 1976 - 1988. I don't have too much information about this particular one. It uses a 126 film cartridge and does not require batteries to operate. You need to also buy the flipflash stick in order to have the flash to operate. As you can see in this flipflash photo the stick has eight bulbs, which after you use the first four you need to flip the stick over to use the other four bulbs. The focus works for objects that are at least four feet away.

Now I don't have the exact information about this particular camera but I'm fairly sure that it was given as a gift from the same person who kindly gave me the last old camera I posted. Other than that there isn't a whole lot more that I can add off the top of my memory, though it does make a great addition to the collection. If you know of any more information other than what I've been able to find post a comment to let me know. And if you happen to have one and would like to know some tips on it check out this Kodak Instamatic site.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

5 Cents and 6 Pence - CC 317

CC 317
Rhodesian Coin
Origin: Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)
Unit: 6 pence or 5 cents
Details: country no longer exists

I currently don't have the bulk of my coin collection on me, but I still have a few coins and bills lying around in museum storage, so I don't have a wide selection of interesting coins to choose from. However, I did find this rather interesting copper-nickel 1964 coin. What's so interesting is that not only does the country no longer exist but when it did exist it was an unrecognized state. A few Coin Collection posts ago I had a 'Toko' bird coin from Botswana, which lies right next to Zimbabwe on the Southern tip of Africa. From 1965 to 1979 this region was known as Rhodesia, named after the famous Cecil Rhodes, whose namesake is also used for the acclaimed Rhodes Scholarship. Rhodesia was subsequently reverted back to British Colonial rule for a short period of time, then known as Zimbabwe Rhodesia or Southern Rhodesia. However in April of 1980 it was formally recognized as its own country now known as Zimbabwe.

Another odd feature of the coin is that on the obverse there is inscribed 6D and 5C to describe its monetary value. This stands for both 6 Pence and 5 cents respectively. During the time that this coin was made, 1964, Rhodesia was using the Rhodesian Pound-very similar to the British pound. Then in 1970 they finally decimalized and converted to the Rhodesian Dollar. So I'm going to take the fact that they were starting to try and slowly transition to the new currency. When they did eventually switch 1 dollar equaled 2 pounds. Here is some more information on the Rhodesian 6 Pence/5 Cents coin.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mercury Sulfide - GEO 026

GEO 026
Cinnabar in Calcite
Class: Mineral
Location: Mexico

Well it's been about a month since I last posted something from the Geological Collections so here you guys go, it's not 'pretty' by any means but is somewhat interesting. Now this particular mineral specimen is known as Cinnabar as is a mercury sulfide, being that its chemical composition is HgS. cinnabars are normally more reddish in color but can also be transparent/translucent like this particular piece. But this chunk is actually cinnabar in calcite, which is actually another fairly clear mineral.

I got this mineral from an estate sale in Walworth, New York and the actual specimen comes all the way from it's original location of Chihuahua, Mexico. Now more information about this mineral species can be found at this cinnabar data page. There you can find some normal mineral information, such as its specific gravity of 8.1, its hardness of about 2-2.5 (which is pretty low on Moh's Scale of Hardness; Diamond is the hardest and is a 10), and it has a bright red streak when used on a white streak plate.

Amelia Earhart Possibly Found?

Amelia Earhart's Jacket

So I don't normally do this, but it's a quite interesting news story that does fit into the museum context. That said I have created a new tag, Current, in which I will occasionally post up news stories or other scientific/historically noteworthy articles. Seeing as the Smithsonian has some nice displays on Amelia Earhart I thought I should share the news. A few bone fragments, whose owner may in fact be Earhart herself, have been found cast away on a Pacific Island.

Now I'm sure many of you have heard the story on how Amelia Earhart, world class aviator, went on what would become her last flight and never came back. The accepted answer was that her plane went down over the Pacific and she died in the crash; but there are of course lots of crackpot conspiracy theories abound with what 'really happened.'

You should, however, take this with a grain of salt at the moment. There is no proof as of yet that these are her bones. DNA testing will take place over the coming weeks where we will finally find what these really are. However fish and bird bones found in the area suggest that they were prepared by someone with a Western background rather than by a Pacific Islander, so there is some more evidence that these come from a long gone castaway.

Anyway, exciting news to say the least. And read the full USA Today article here. And again sorry about the photo. It's a picture of Earhart's jacket from the Smithsonian's American History Museum and I only had a few megapixel camera at the time.

Thin and Dusty - NH 012

NH 012
Long-Bodied Cellar Spider
Category: Arachnids
Family: Pholcidae

Sorry for the lack of updates over the past week, but it was finals week so I was busy studying. However the year is over and for the next month you should all be expecting lots of new updates. And don't worry, I haven't forgotten Spider Saturday. Speaking of Spider Saturday, if you haven't already check out last week's specimen which was the giant Golden Orb Weaver. This week, however, is something a bit smaller and a bit more fragile. I posted a similar specimen awhile back, the Cellar Spider, and this particular spider is in the same family (if not the same species).

This particular guy is also a Fulcid (the cellar spiders), and was found at Cornell University sometime in early September 2010. A little bit of quick identification by a friend has this guy classified as a Long-Bodied Cellar Spider (Pholcus phalangiodes). However, if you note from the previous cellar spider's post I had temporarily classified him as a Pholcus phalangiodes and unfortunately seeing as I'm not actually an expert on arachnid identification I'm just going to go out on a limb and say that the previous post (NH 021) was incorrectly identified (at least to the species level), though this is just my personal judgement. They are at least in the end both of the family Pholcidae.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Display

Just a quick update on the Museum's physical manifestation. This weekend the museum has been updated with a brand new display case. As you can see many of the best permanent exhibits are now on display in this professional case, complete with glass shelving, mirror backing, and electric lights. The top shelf has on display most of the most historical artifacts while the lower part (not pictured here) has on display a more genealogical display on its top shelf.

It's just a very nice addition to the Sholesonian's display collection so that the best of what is posted up here can be on display for all to see.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

JFK Vinyl - PUB 003

PUB 003
JFK Original Speeches
Media: 33 1/3 Vinyl Record
Year: 1963
Details: only speech excerpts

I haven't posted anything from the Publications Collections since the birth of the blog back in October, so this has been way over due. Back when I moved in the mid-1990's the old house owner left a bunch of old vinyl records in the garage. I've kept about half of them and will be posting many of them up here (most of them are records from famous broadway musicals). Today's however is fairly interesting in its own right. Entitled 'John Fitzgerald Kennedy: The Presidential Years - 1960-1963: Original Speeches.' Produced by the Pickwick International company, the 33 1/3 RPM record has clips from 16 of the 35th president's greatest speeches.

The two sides include experts of these speeches:
Pre-Election - November 6, 1960
Election Eve - November 8, 1960
Oath of Office - January 20, 1961
Inaugural - January 20, 1961
State of the Union - January 31, 1961
Alliance for Progress - August 6, 1961
U.N. Address - September 26, 1961
Peace Corps - March 2, 1962
U.S. Steel - April 12, 1962
On Labor - September 3, 1962
On Cuba - October 23, 1962
Birmingham Segregation - May 13, 1963
Berlin Wall - June 26, 1963
Nuclear Test - July 15, 1963
Houston - November 21, 1963
Dallas - November 22, 1963

The back of the record's sleeve has a reprint of The New York Times from Saturday November 23, 1963 which has a memoriam for the late President Kennedy. While I can find no discernible date of when the record was made, I have done a little research and it may have been in 1963, but according to Amazon it was in 1995 but I'm fairly sure it was before 1995 and most of the other records were from the 1960's so I'm going to go with 1963 for now.

And as a side note, when I took the picture the face recognition found JFK's profile and asked me if someone blinked. Thought it was funny enough to share.

Giant of a Spider - NH 099

NH 099
Giant Golden Orb Weaver
Category: Arachnids
Family: Nephilidae

Don't worry I haven't forgotten about Spider Saturday, but in celebration of the Sholesonian's 'Birthday' yesterday I'm giving you guys the spider of the Natural History Collection. This behemoth of a spider is over eight inches long and I have actually included a standard US quarter for scale. This particular guy comes from Jember, East Java, Indonesia so if you aren't particularly fond of large orb weaving spiders you might want to cancel next year's vacation plans to Indonesia. But really these Giant Golden Orb Weavers (Nephila maculata) are essentially completely harmless to humans. They do have some venom but it isn't deadly to humans.

Being the largest orb-weaving spider, these guys can spin webs that are up to 6 meters tall and two meters wide (for scale your refrigerator is about 2 meters tall). They generally eat large insects that may fall into their trap, but they themselves often fall prey to birds and natives. This specimen is clearly a female as indicated by its enormous size. The males of the species can be over a hundred times smaller and are sometimes eaten by their mate. Thus the male will have to sneak up on the female while she is eating in order to mate. Their webs are incredibly strong and have been used in fishing nets for centuries, the stuff is tougher than Kevlar.

So hopefully you enjoy this monstrous beast, and if you would like some more information on these giant spiders just check this link. Also if you are interested in getting one of these guys email the museum and I can direct you where you can get one without having to travel to Indonesia. Also, it may be interesting to note that the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles has a spider pavilion which does have Nephila maculata among other large arachnids, where you can walk around check them out.

Also, I will work on taking a better photograph. There is some nice intricate golden designs on the body that you might not be able to see.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Squirrelly Money - CC 020

CC 020
Belarusian Bill
Origin: Belarus
Unit: 50 Kapeykas
Details: 1992 mint

Apologies for not posting anything up lately, but hopefully tomorrow I'll be posting up something exciting - one of my favorite pieces in the collections. But for today I just picked one of the specimens from the coin collection that I had previously photographed. And this particular bill comes from the Eastern European country of Belarus (it's between Russia, Poland, and Ukraine).

This 50 kapeykas bill was minted in 1992 and features a squirrel on the reverse. The 1992 mint was part of the First Ruble group (a kapeyka is 1/100th of a ruble), which has since been replaced with the Second Ruble group in 2000. I can't really read most of it, so I'm not sure if there is any other pertinent information on it, but it's just a small post to satisfy any thirst for more posts you may have.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Smithsonian Page

Hope Diamond

Hey everyone, because you are enjoying all these nifty specimens that I've been posting up I thought you guys might enjoy some awesome stuff about other museums. So I recommend that you all go and check out the Smithsonian Facebook Page, they've recently been posting up pictures and information in a series called Smithsonian Snapshots. These are really interesting and cool pieces in their collections that aren't on display. So far they've posted up some Woolly Mammoth flesh, Rosa Park's dress, and Pablo Picasso's handwritten list of artists. I've really been enjoying seeing what they've got and thought you all would as well.

P.S. And sorry about not posting anything up recently, it's study week here and finals are on their way. But don't worry there will be more posts to come. And sorry for the poor quality of the hope diamond, but I had only like a 2 megapixel camera the last time I was at the Smithsonian.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tiny Hopper - NH 015

NH 015
Jumping Spider
Category: Arachnids
Family: Salticidae

I was going to post up a my really good spider up today but haven't had time to photograph it right, but I haven't forgotten Spider Saturday so I'm presenting the smallest vial in the collection today. I don't have too much information on this particular specimen. At the moment I only have the family name (Salticidae), which is the grouping for jumping spiders. More unfortunate news is that this guy was collected before I was keeping good tabs on collection dates and localities, thus there is very little exact information on it.

Jumping spiders are active hunters. So instead of building a web and waiting for prey to get caught, they go out and will scour for food. They can jump several times their body length (forwards and backwards) and while they don't have webs they still do have silk that they anchor to the ground before they jump so in the event they end up falling a great height they will be able to climb back up to live another day. What's also interesting about this family is that they are very curious creatures, especially when it comes to humans.

This jumping spider was found above the mirror in a bathroom in Baker Tower, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA sometime in early-mid September 2010.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Touring Model Model- HS 008

HS 008
Replica Model T
Era: Early 20th Century
Details: replica, made in early 21st century

Today, in order to break the tradition of posting up mostly insects, coins, and rocks I am presenting a nice model from the Historical Collections. Now unfortunately I was unable to locate the Certificate of Authenticity before I had to leave, but I do have it and I will hopefully be able to retrieve over winter break. Now this is a superb diecast replica of the 1909 Ford Model T Touring automobile. It is a 1:32 scale model, and has a lot of movable parts. The back doors open and close as does the hood (on both sides), the hand crank in front cranks, and of course the wheels spin. The model comes from the National Motor Museum Mint. I'm fairly sure that this was a gift from my godmother years back, but it has a nice museum feel to it and makes a great addition to the Sholesonian. Unfortunately the real axle is slightly bent, so it isn't in perfect mint condition, but the rest of the vehicle is in tip-top shape.

Now, I'm sure that most of us are familiar with the story behind Henry Ford's Model T, but if you need a refresher you can check out the Model T's Wikipedia page.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Alien Invader - NH 026

NH 026
Marmorated Stinkbug
Category: True Bugs
Family: Pentatomidae

Today's insect comes from the Pentatomidae family, and you may know it by its common name: the stinkbug. This particular specimen is a Brown Marmorated Stinkbug and was collected inside Baker Tower, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA on the 15th of October 2010 around 6:00pm. The Marmorated Stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys), has a brownish camouflage-like color but when placed into the alcohol its wings opened up and the liquid diluted the color a bit to reveal some yellow striped patterns underneath.

What's so interesting about this particular exhibit is that as it turns out this species of stinkbug is actually a huge pest in the Eastern United States. Originally from Asia, they eventually made it to Pennsylvania and have spread since then. They infiltrate houses (and most people don't want stink bugs in their homes) as well as eat and destroy crops. Since their discovery in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1998 they have spread to 15 states and counting including New York. This China native has become a serious invasive species creating many problems here in the Northeast. However, there is no way to control this species at present.

And have a happy first of the month!