Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Watch Your Toes - NH 336

NH 336
Eastern Toe Biter
Lethocerus griseus
Category: True Bugs
Family: Belostomatidae

Wow, it's been awhile since the last post, but have no fear the Sholesonian hasn't gone anywhere (final exams just take up a lot of my time). Sholesonian Facebook fans will note that about a month ago I teased you all with the image of a large aquatic insect with giant pincers from New York - so ladies and gentlemen here is NH 336: the Eastern Toe Biter. 

Found crawling across a parking lot in Cortland, New York in November, 2011, this bad bug (it belongs to the suborder Heteroptera and is thus technically a true bug) is also sometimes referred to as the electric bug. This is because while they live in ponds and shallow water habitats, they evolved to use the stars for navigation and thus get utterly confused by electric lights. This is why they are commonly found outside their natural environment.

Their large mandibles produce a powerful and painful bite, one of the worst in North America, and live up to their name. While they cannot breath underwater, they hunt motionless with their head underwater and their 'tail' end floating on top with a tube they can breath through (see photo above) ready to strike. They hunt for small fish, amphibians, and even baby snakes/turtles and will occasionally mistake someones toe for food. Don't worry, while they have a painful attack where they eject their digestive saliva, they aren't dangerous or venomous. Their enzyme-filled saliva starts to break down the insides of the deceased prey and it will then suck out the juices through its beak. 

And of course you can learn more about Eastern Toe Biters' relative the American Toe Biters here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shirts and Photos!

So a few updates on the site.

A.) If you click a picture you get a nice photo-viewer within the window instead of opening up a new tab. It looks much nicer and you can scroll through all the photos within each post. Enjoy!

B.) We now have T-Shirts available! If you click 'Store' above in the navigation bar you will see what styles are available. They're not very expensive, and I have a few other 'sciencey' shirts available (they cost a little more because you have to pay a little to use the design but are cheaper than buying them from the designer). If you have any ideas or suggestions please let me know!

And if you buy a T-Shirt, take a photo of yourself in it and send it to us, we'd love to see them!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Premo Camera - HS 034

HS 034
Film Premo No. 1
Era: 1900's
Details: Eastman Kodak

And to wrap up the mass celebration posts celebrating one year of the Sholesonian we have my personal favorite camera in the History and Cultural Collection: an Eastman Kodak The Premo Camera Film No. 1. Produced back in 1906 this camera utilized 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 sheet film. This meant that only one picture could be taken at a time. This camera was designed by Kodak more for amateur photographers of the day and was a bit more budget friendly. The camera has a variety of scales for determining which distance to pull it out and how to set the lens depending on brightness to allow amateurs the ability to take good photographs without needing to know all the references that the professionals did. 

While it may be surprising today, when this camera first came out over a century ago it was one of the most convenient cameras on the market. Lightweight and compact (the billows folds right up into the box) made it easy to use. It features two tripod sockets, one for landscape and the other for portrait. This particular specimen has lost the strap handle and the pump thing (I apologize I don't know what it's called) for taking a picture. 

This camera was one of the many models used by George Eastman in revolutionizing the photographic world. Kodak would become a powerhouse and household name for cameras and film. This early model was one that popularized public use of cameras at home and made it more affordable and portable for the average user. Scroll down this site to learn more about these Kodak Film Premo No. 1 cameras. 

My Two Cents - CC 276

CC 276
US Coin
Origin: United States
Unit: 2 cents
Year: 1865

A year ago as part of the opening of the Sholesonian we posted a specimen from each of our six collection, today in celebration of our anniversary we are continuing that with a interesting piece of American history in the Numismatics Collection. For about a decade between 1864 and 1873 the United States tried its hand at producing a two cent coin. Made up of mostly copper with a hint of tin and zinc, the coin did not last as long as its three-cent cousin and was discontinued. In today's economy the coin would be worth approximately 28 cents. 

The obverse of the coin features an American shield with the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST" with two arrows and olive branches sporting behind the shield. The reverse on the other hand features the denomination within what appears to be a wheat wreath with "United States of America" heralding above. This was actually the first coin to feature the iconic "IN GOD WE TRUST" on the coin itself. There have been some attempts to revive the two cent coin, but they have easily died out, even with a burst of public enthusiasm when they were first minted in 1864, the excitement died out fairly quickly. 

If you're interested in learning more here's a great article on the history of the two cent piece

Powdery Mineral - GEO 139

GEO 139
Class: Mineral
Location: Chihuahua, Mexico

Not all minerals have to be pretty crystals, as demonstrated with this nesoborate. I was able to acquire two of these giant chunks of what appears to be a lumpy white mass of mineral. What it lacks in beauty it makes up with being a more odd mineral than not. It's a white powdery mineral that grows in this sort of crystal pattern rather than the fine quartz structures everyone is most familiar with. 

Mined out of Chihuahua, Mexico this mineral specimen is very similar to borax, a common cleaning detergent. In fact tincalconite is normally made by simply dehydrating borax and sodium borates, but it's also found naturally. It is a 2 on Moh's scale of hardness and has a fairly small specific gravity of 1.88. While this particular specimen isn't that great of quality, they have a hexagonal crystal structure and form some pretty nice looking specimens. Check out this page for more scientific data and other details of tincalconite

Boring (Into A) Shell - FOS 034

FOS 034
Sinistrofulgur contrarius
(?Busycon contrarium)
Location: Virginia-Florida
Age: Pliocene

Continuing with the mass posting to celebrate one year of the Sholesonian, we have this interesting fossil snail shell specimen. Normally I try not to pick up any fossils that don't have location data attached with them, they lose their scientific importance without it, but this one has an interesting feature that makes it a nice new addition to the Fossil Collection. 

If you take a look at the photograph of the shell you should see a lot of cracks in the shell. At first glance you may think, as did I, that these are just stress fractures from it breaking over time. But as it turns out these are actually quite different. These cracks were caused by another animal that was boring into the shell. Whether the snail was alive or deceased when this was happening isn't quite clear, but either is a possibility. The two possible culprits for doing this is either Cliona (a boring sponge) or a bryozoa (a moss animal). 

As for the shell itself, I've been told that it belongs to the genus Sinistrofulgur, which through some looking up seems to be now a part of Busycon. It's most likely Pliocene in age, meaning that this is a relatively recent fossil, only a few million years old. These snails are equipped to drill holes into their prey, usually bivalves, and eat the insides if they are successful. This particular shell is left-handed. And yes while snails don't have hands they can be either right or left handed. To figure out which a snail is hold it up with the point of the spiral up and whichever side the opening is on decides which-handed it is. If you mentally rotate the picture below 90 degrees clockwise you will see it. 

Spider Wolf - NH 155

NH 155
Wolf Spider
Hogna sp.
Category: Arachnids
Family: Lycosidae

Spider Saturday is actually up on time today during our anniversary celebration! Those of you keeping up with the Facebook page may have already taken a quick look at this big local spider. This past May I was taking a walk and stumbled across this mean looking spider crawling across a path by the Johnson Art Museum at Cornell University. I happened to be carrying a capture cup with me and it just managed to fit inside after some difficult maneuvering. It did manage to escape on my while trying to preserve it and was running around my room, but I managed to recapture it without any harm done. 

This spider belongs to the family of wolf spiders: Lycosidae, and is of the genus Hogna. There are many species  in this group so without putting it under a microscope to examine its nether-regions. Wolf spiders are well identified by their characteristic wolf spider eye pattern. The mothers are also well known for carrying their newborn on their abdomen as seen in this Wikipedia photo. They generally come out to hunt at night and if you are looking for them shine a flashlight down looking for the reflections in their eyes. Don't worry, as big and bad as they look, they aren't poisonous and generally not harmful to humans. 

Ghost Music - PUB 072

PUB 072
Do You Ever Think of Me
Media: QRS Word Roll 1336
Year: 1920
Details: Sherman Clay & Co.

So it's been a busy past few months, but with excitement we celebrated the one year anniversary of our first post this past Thursday October 13, 2011! Over 100 posts after our first post I bring you another five posts to celebrate the event! First up is this nearly century old player piano roll with the song "Do You Ever Think of Me." It's a foxtrot with words by Harry D. Kerr and John Cooper with music by Earl Burtnett. You can check out the lyrics and even download for free what the song would sound like on the piano at the link above.

So, for those of you still in confusion, this song isn't ordinary sheet music. It's a roll  to be used in a player piano, those old pianos in the height of popularity during the 1920's that would play by themselves. Using the small punches in the paper the piano would be able to 'read' the music and play the tune without a need for a human player. At one point during the early 1920's half of the pianos being made in the country were player pianos. After the fall of the Roaring Twenties with the stockmarket crash the popularity of the player piano fell into deep decline. 

For those interested this is word roll 1336, and despite the song having lyrics, obviously the piano only played the music itself. Back when it was originally made the song itself cost $1.25, approximately $14.50 in today's economy. 

Family Day Fun!

Those of you not keeping tabs on our Facebook pages should enjoy knowing that our Family Fun Day exhibit was a complete success! On Saturday September 24, 2011 at Ithaca, NY's Museum of the Earth, the Sholesonian set up a table for their Family Fun Day. With a variety of treasures from all six of our collections, patrons were able to enjoy all the unique items. Check out the photos of the event below and click on a photo to enlarge it!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Spider Myths

So, as I try to balance my math and physics problem sets with preparing for my Family Fun Day table this weekend there aren't going to be any posts this week (hopefully to resume next week). But to hold you over here is a nice website dedicated to debunking all of those pesky arachnid related myths.

Do you actually swallow 8 spiders in your sleep per year?
Are daddy longlegs the most poisonous spiders in the world?

Find out at:

Spider Myths: Home:

* Also I may start using the 'Blog This' feature of Google Chrome to start just posting links to interesting scientific and historical findings that I come across. Let me know what you think.

'via Blog this'

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Golden Cube - GEO 141

GEO 141
Class: Mineral
Location: Spain

So, by popular demand I am posting up one of the brand new awesome minerals! For starters, yes this is really how it looks. It's known as a pyrite cube and Spain is famous for having these great crystal structures where the pyrite mineral forms large cubes like this one. Pyrite is more commonly called Fool's Gold due to it's gold coloring. While they usually don't come in these pristine cube shapes, most pyrite specimens have a distinct cubic pattern if you look really closely. Sometimes you will find very cool Pyrite disks which look like gold sand-dollars, unfortunately the Sholesonian does not have one in the collection, yet. 

Pyrite is about a 6 on Moh's Scale of Hardness, has a fairly high specific gravity (think weight/density), and is a sulfide mineral. The chemical composition of pyrite is FeS2, or just iron sulfide. It's name comes from the Greek, of fire, because it would be used to make sparks when struck against steel. You will often find fossils, even here in Central New York, where you get pyritization, pyrite crystals form and replace some of the fossil material creating a spectacular display of a golden fossil. There are a few other pyrite-similar minerals: Arsenopyrite and Chalcopyrite, both of which will eventually be posted up here later on. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

MotE Event & Collecting!

As I mentioned earlier I was a speaker at the Paleontological Research Institute's 5th annual Summer Symposium talking about this blog and the outreach I have been doing. [You can see me in the bottom left-had picture in the red jacket.]

Anyway, I will be doing a small one-day exhibit over at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York on Saturday September 24th for their Family Day (and opening of the new Fossil Prep Lab which I have worked in before). I'll be there with some unseen pieces of the Sholesonian Collection while teaching kids (and parents, others, etc.) tips to having collections. You'll get some inside tips of the trade. 

I will also probably be giving another brief presentation on the Sholesonian at this event and as always will be glad to talk to individuals and families about pursuing collecting - whether it be fossils, insects, rocks, or memorabilia. And as always, leave a comment here, email us, or post on our Facebook wall if you have any questions about your own collection or just want to say hello! 

And as a side note, I am providing here a list of endangered, threatened, locally extinct, and species of special concern list for the state of New York. Please note that if you do collect shells/insects (or delve into taxidermy) to not capture/kill any of these species. We must protect our biodiversity and natural wildlife to [Dare I say it: Save the world! (I stole that from Bill Nye whom I just recently met)] This also means that you should not collect an excessive amount of any one species, even if they are very common (a lesson we should learn from the Passenger Pigeon). Hopefully I will print out a nice handout with picture of what not to collect for the event. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Morlock & Midnight Men! - PUB 070

PUB 070
Morlock 2001 and the Midnight Men
Media: Comic Books
Year: 1975
Details: Atlas Comics

Wow, it has been awhile since the last update, but here is a very interesting and comic comic. While I haven't collected any comic books before, this one seemed very interesting and obscure. Most of us have heard of the top comic book companies, DC and Marvel, but this is from the lesser known Atlas Comics. Worth only 25 cents when it was issued in July 1975, Morlock 2001 and the Midnight Men is the third issue of the Morlock series. However, Atlas Comics failed to capture enough consumers and was defunct within a year leaving even it's most popular titles with only four issues. 

Since I only have the third (and last) issue, I am unaware of a lot of the background story to the exact premise of Morlock, but I learned enough in this issue. The year is 2002 (!) and all forms of books are banned (similar to the storyline of Fahrenheit 451). Professor Whitlock's secret library  is burned down along with himself (at midnight) by the government for treason, while Morlock is questioning himself about transforming into his monstrous form in order to help the professor. Morlock is a guy who comes from a pod of unknown origin but was betrayed by the government scientists that raised him, and has the ability to transform into a monstrous plant/beast. He has extra arms, is extra big, his flesh is like a slimy mold that liquefies human flesh which he absorbs. 

After 'eating' the guards he fails to save the professor who burns up in the flames. But alas! The professor miraculously survives the inferno, but his entire body is covered in severe third degree burns, yet he feels no pain. He drags Morlock to safety and they go to the underground railroad (under former NYC) where there is an uprising of against the government 'The Tribunal.' The professor renames himself, in new uniform, Midnight Man and requires all those in the rebellion to dress up and be the Midnight Men. He plans to use Morlock and his powers to help fight the Tribunal. However, the government discovers their secret hideout and attack, but Morlock has no control over his powers and doesn't want to become a mindless beast once more. So to save Morlock, Midnight Man shoots and 'kills' Morlock and rushes off to fight the Tribunal forces. 

And that's it. The company did not make anymore issues as they were folded over. It should be noted that this particular issue was nearly a saving grace, as it became one of the more popular issues, yet not enough to save the company. If you want to learn more about Morlock 2001 and the Midnight Men check out this great website on the comics. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Symposium at the PRI

 So for those who didn't hear, the Sholesonian recently made a presentation on its collection and outreach effort at the Summer Symposium 2011 at the Paleontological Research Institute. I gave a brief overview on what I do with this site as well as giving a quick look on how to make your own insect or fossil collection. If you have any questions or want to learn more feel free to leave a comment here, on our Facebook page, or shoot us an email. I have made the presentation available for your viewing right here so enjoy!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Buzz - NH 303

NH 303
Dog Day Cicada
Tibicen canicularis
Category: True Bugs
Family: Cicadidae

So I was shot a question the other day over the true nature of cicadas, and thus I am presenting one from the collection to quickly clear up some misconceptions. Sitting outside in the hot summer sun, you hear the most distinguishable sound of summer a loud buzz that encompasses the whole area. This is the work of the cicadas, a bug that is famous for its moltings and life-cycle. The insects themselves generally aren't seen (except as will be noted) but once they emerge from the ground the nymphs will shed their old 'skin' and leave behind the moltings, clinging to trees for us to find. 

This is where some confusion over these critters usually comes in. For those who are unaware cicadas are well known for their odd life-cycles. After laying their eggs in twigs the larva will make their way underground where they will stay for years at a time. The famous ones are the American 13 and 17 year cycle types of the Magicicada genus. This means that the larva will stay in the ground for 13 or 17 years, then will emerge in swarms, but within two months all the of them will die only leaving behind the eggs for the next periodical cycle to begin. 

However, this particular specimen isn't one of the extremely long term species. It's a common Dog-Day Cicada of the Northeast US, and this one is just an annual cicada. So rather than waiting in the ground for 17 years, the nymphs are only buried for a year where they feed on root juices. They all don't come out at once, but are distributed throughout July and August. And because the nymphs feed on the roots of trees they are known to be a pest.

Also, you may be wondering what is the point to having a 17 year developing stage only to live 'normally' for a summer? Well it's believed that emerging in one massive brood can overwhelm predators like birds. It is also thought that having such a long and prime-numbered life cycle makes it harder for predators to keep track of. As always here is an informational page on the Periodical Cicadas for you to learn more about their life cycles and how to deal them as pests. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Official Logo!

So the time has finally come where we now have an official logo for the site! Special shout out thanks to Rachel who has graciously given her time to create this masterpiece.

As you can see, the six different sections represent our six different collections: an old bellows camera for our Historical & Cultural Collection, a Devonian trilobite for the Fossil Collection obviously, a beautiful butterfly marks our Natural History Collection, a chunk of quartz crystals stand for the Geology Collection, a simple U.S. quarter with the date of our founding for the Numismatics Collection, and last but not least a book open to the Sholesonian guide marks our Publications Collection.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Minerals! - GEO 082

GEO 082
Calcite on Galena
Class: Mineral
Location: Reynolds Co., MO

Just a quick interesting post for today. I'm not going to go into the details of either calcite (the mineral that makes up the one large yellowish crystal) or the galena matrix it sits on, though I have separate specimens for both of them and will post them on a subsequent date. 

But you should all be excited! This past weekend the Sholesonian acquired a very large collection of minerals of all sorts, sizes, colors, and types so expect a large array of very interesting and display worthy specimens floating out of the Geology Collection. This brilliant piece was originally part of the R.M. Eaton Collection from Rochester, New York. The calcite is part of the carbonate mineral class whereas the galena is a sulfide mineral. So enjoy this great piece and the many more to come!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grammy! - FOS 030

FOS 030
Grammysia sp. 
Location: Lansing, New York
Family: Grammysiidae

Here is a great brand new addition to the Sholesonian's fossil collection, and it's been identified to boot! This specimen is a fairly large bivalve (think clams and others in the class Bivalvia) that is from the Middle Devonian which started around 397 million years ago; 397,000,000 years!! It was recovered from the Hamilton Group, Moscow Formation in Lansing, New York just yesterday. 

What is cool about this specimen other than it's size and great preservation is that this is a burrowing bivalve. Thus it goes into the sea floor sediment to live and was eventually buried for good, whether it was alive or not is another question (though probably not). I unfortunately don't have too much more information on the Grammysia genus, but it's still a very cool specimen. Also, shout out to our graphic designer Rachel for taking my photograph and revamping it up to a more professional level. Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Index Mineral - GEO 056

GEO 056
Class: Mineral
Location: Brazil

It's another scorching hot day here so just a quick post to hold you over. This is a nice larger mineral specimen heralding all the way South from Brazil. Kyanite is its name and it gets its name from the Greek word meaning 'blue' (for obvious reasons). Though don't take it that all Kyanite is blue, like many other minerals it can have a variety of color shades. This one also comes in white, gray, green, and black, though blue is the most commonly found type. Remember that to identify minerals you can't just use the physical properties (i.e. color/shape/taste in some cases but don't go around licking rocks), you must also use the properties such as hardness, streak (the color produced when rubbed on a streak plate, it's not always the same), density, crystal lattice, and of course chemical composition. Kyanite is made up of Aluminum (Al), Silicon (Si), and Oxygen (O) with a chemical formula of Al2SiO5. It has fairly good cleavage (roughly meaning it forms sheets), has a hardness of between 4 and 7 on Moh's Scale of Hardness, a white streak, and has a fibrous habit for growing. 

What's interesting about Kyanite is that it's an index mineral. Much akin to how index fossils are used for relative dating of the surrounding fossils, this mineral is used for finding the approximate temperature/pressure of the surrounding rock. This is because Kyanite is normally found in metamorphic rocks and is normally found above 4kB of pressure. If you take a look at this metamorphic mineral phase diagram, you can see that the triangular shaped chunk in the upper left-hand corner is Kyanite and if you know what the temperature is and you find a certain mineral you can estimate the pressure, or if you know the pressure and a mineral you can estimate the temperature at which it formed, though this is just a rough sketch of how to use it. It's other main uses include being used in dishware and electronics. And as always you can find more information concerning this interesting mineral Kyanite here. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

SEM Imaging

So there hasn't been many posts in awhile, it's been busy here, so I thought I would share with all of you some test images I made today using the Scanning Electron Microscope. None of these specimens are in the Sholesonian collections but it's still very cool to get up and close with these minuscule animals. I suggest you check out this site to learn how a scanning electron microscope even works. And for your reference there is a scale on all of the images, just keep in mind that a micrometer (that's what the numbers are in the Greek letter Mu is used) is 1/1000th a millimeter and thus 10-6 meters or 0.000001 meters. These things are around 500 micrometers across which is about half a millimeter. Enjoy!

Baby Coral
A baby coral

A bryozoa (moss animal)

Cone Shell
A cone snail

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grand Ol' Flag - HS 048

HS 048
American Flag
Era: 1960's 
Details: 48 stars

Happy Independence Day! Browsing through the Sholesonian collections I was trying to decide what would be a great piece to post that celebrates the United States on it's 235 birthday and what better than the old American Flag. This is one of the more prominent permanent displays at the Sholesonian, but what makes it so special? Well, count the stars. That's right this is an original 48 star flag, framed in all its glory (you can see George Washington in the corner on a quarter for scale). For those who are a bit rusty on their American history, the current 50 star flag came into being after Hawaii finally declared statehood after Alaska back in 1959. 

Back in 2003 my grandparents were selling their large estate to move into more manageable housing and you may not know this but the Sholesonian has its roots in this house. My grandfather had turned the 2nd floor in a three story barn into a small personal museum, displaying all old stuff he had collected over the years being both a businessman and a farmer. This inspired me and has evolved into the current site you're reading. But the top floor of this barn had a half basketball court where my cousins and I would play when we came over. At the peak of the court hung this flag and while no one payed any attention to this dirty ragged old flag I managed to catch a glimpse and noticed it had 48 stars in the closing moments before I would leave the barn for good. So my grandpa took out the ladder, took it down, gave it to my mother to clean (it nearly disintegrated hitting the water), it was repaired a little, framed, and given to me for my birthday years ago. And as it turns out it was my father who placed this up in the barn back when he was a young kid. 

On the back of the frame reads: 
"Barn Ball Flag"
Placed in Peak of Barn at Sholestead,
Sennett, N.Y. by David G. Sholes
around 1965. Retrieved by Steven F.
Sholes upon sale of Sholestead in July 

The 48 star flag was used for 47 years and is the second longest used flag in American history, with the current 50 star flag beating it out. It first came in use in 1912 after the incorporation of Arizona and New Mexico into the Union (There was no 47 star flag but a 49 star flag was used for a year). It's also interesting to note that there are already flag proposals for flags up to 56 stars for any case in which some territories of the United States reach statehood (such as Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., New York City, etc.), and you can learn more about the history of the US flag here. And I also suggest you hop on over to the Smithsonian site to check out THE original Star Spangled Banner - the one Francis Scott Key saw still waving over the fort and wrote the song from. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Spider Ant - NH 221

NH 221
Jumping Spider
Sarinda hentzi
Category: Arachnids
Family: Salticidae

Unfortunately I had a wedding to attend to last week so there was no Spider Saturday, but we are back up today with this very cool, albeit small, addition to the arachnid collection. This particular spider was found crawling on a door in the basement of the PRI in Ithaca, New York back on June 2, 2011. At first I thought it was just another ant, but with good cause. This particular jumping spider is known as an ant-mimicing spider because not only do they look like ants but they behave in ways to get predators to back off thinking they are an ant.

You can see the two front legs in the picture (at the bottom); it will wave these front legs up and down to mimic an ant's antennae. This tactic is used to keep predators away, as many such as wasps will avoid ants due to their aggressiveness and unpredictability. This particular specimen is a female and was collected along with a ground stag beetle, and these jumping spiders will create a small web enclosure to use for protection (from this menacing beetle also in the bag) and she would also use this web for mating, resting, molting, among other things. Below you will find an image of the spider crawling into her newly made web of protection.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mercury and Leeches - HS 033

HS 033
Pill Box?
Era: Late 19th Century
Details: Rochester, NY

Wow, this one took awhile to research. While you can't see the whole thing in too much detail, this is a small what I believe to be a pill box made out of a light cardboard-like material. The box has some red covering over it which has severely deteriorated over time but the label on the lid (pictured) is still in great condition. What you can read on the top is "Lane & Paine; Apothecaries; 18 Buffalo St.; Rochester, N.Y.". I can't make out what the label for the contents of the box is (to me it looks like a decaying wave function), but there is an i in it. You will have to disregard the number '14564' as it was used to describe what was put in it much later. 

After digging deep into the internet, I've come up with an approximate timeline for this guy, though I'm not 100% on the sources. I managed to find a site about Landmarks of Monroe County which says that the Paine Drug Store was moved from its location (not mentioned) to a new street in 1878 where it was renamed from Lane & Paine (both of who took over the store in 1852) to C. F. Paine & Co.. This drug store is the oldest in Rochester, NY having been originally founded in 1820. Now finding a Rochester City Hospital review/newsletter of sorts I found an ad for the apothecary from 1869 which is right when it was called Lane & Paine. If you check page 16 of the Rochester City Hospital  review you will see their advertisement which reads "Lane & Paine, Dealers in Drugs, Medicines, Chemicals, Toilet Articles, Perfumery, &c.; 18 Buffalo St., Rochester, N.Y.; Alfred S. Lane, mch, 1866. 1y, Cyrus F. Paine." 

As you can see this date the pill box to between 1852 and 1878 if all of this is correct. Now you may be wondering what an apothecary exactly is. You probably got from the ad that they are some sort of pharmacist-like professionals. This is because apothecaries where the precursors to modern day pharmacies, though they were a bit different. Unlike pharmacists today, many apothecaries would also act like physicians performing operations, looking and diagnosing patients, preparing and selling drugs and medicines, performing procedures that would be considered medieval in today's standards, and selling things like tobacco and homemade remedies. This includes prescribing leeches to drain blood from patients who had 'too much' and hanging drowning victims by their feet from trees and pulling them up and down. Their main tools of the trade were the famous mortar and pestles used for mixing and grinding herbs to make medicines and would even go so far to prescribe mercury to patients. There is much much more information available at this apothecary website which will give an in-depth look into the lives of these practitioners, I encourage you all to have a look. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fire Wash Fuzz - GEO 029

GEO 029
Class: Mineral
Location: New Mexico

Here's a very interesting new addition to the mineral collection at the Sholesonian. This is known as Pyrolusite, and despite it's small size it is different from all the other specimens. Pyrolusite comes in a variety of forms such as botryoidal, columnar and tabular but this is the common black fibrous form. Coming from New Mexico this mineral consists of Manganese and Oxygen (MnO2) making it an oxide mineral.

Here is some interesting geological information taken from this pyrolusite information page:
"A common Mn mineral, although difficult to distinguish from similar Mn minerals, pyrolusite forms under oxidizing conditions and high pH. Mainly a mineral of lacustrine, shallow marine, and bog deposits, it is also found in the oxidized zones of manganiferous ore deposits and as deposits formed by circulating meteoric water. Both colloidal processes and bacterial action are important in its formation."
It can have a wide range of hardness on Moh's Scale ranging from 2 to 6.5. The name pyrolusite comes from  Greek, meaning fire (pyro) and wash (lusite), which is named such in its use to remove tints from glass. 

This mineral also had a hand in the discovery of chlorine gas. When applied with hydrochloric acid the mineral reacts with the acid and produces chlorine gas as a product. Other uses include making a battery (albeit not a very powerful one) and as a dye. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Phacops - FOS 024

FOS 024
Phacops Trilobite
Phacops rana
Location: Lansing, New York
Family: Phacopidae

So I just got a trilobites of New York book and have been looking to identify some of the many trilobites in the collection in the coming weeks. While I'm not completely positive that this is indeed Phacops rana I have a good feeling that it is. This species is one of the most recognizable trilobites due to their large eyes (in fact the species name P. rana is a reference to the giant eyes of frogs), as well as one of the most common in New York state. This particular specimen was found in Lansing, New York which is part of the Hamilton Group, Moscow Formation which contains fossils from the Middle Devonian Period which started some 416 million years ago. This geologic period is widely noted for the abundant fish, including the armored placoderms such as the fierce dunkleosteus

It's a little hard to accurately identify this guy as 1.) I am not an expert on trilobites, and 2.) this is only the cephalon ('head') and doesn't have the rest of the animal (i.e. thorax and pygidium). However as the trilobite book says this is the most common trilobite found in New York. While not always found this way, these creatures could roll up into a ball like 'pill bugs.' You can get a brief introduction to these guys here at this Trilobite information page. And since these guys are most well known for their eyes I took a close up picture for you to enjoy.

UPDATE: This site is actually part of the Hamilton Group, Moscow Formation which includes fossils from the Middle Devonian. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Zloty Dewizowy - CC 024

CC 024
Polish Bill
Origin: Poland
Unit: 200 zloty

When I started looking up information for this post I thought it was going to be just another currency bill, nothing special. But while searching for who it was on the obverse of this specimen I found out an interesting history behind this bill. I kept searching Google and was seeing that King Sigismund I (the Old) was on the Polish 200 Zloty bill. However it is quite clear that the guy on this bill is NOT Sigismund I. As it turns out this piece was made in 1988 which was part of the Third Zloty series which was from 1950 to 1990 where Poland actually didn't use the zloty. Instead it used a currency unit known as the zloty dewizowy which was a sort of foreign exchange bill. Apparently the zloty was not convertible for exchange and rates differed. But it was finally replaced with the current zloty after the fall of Communist rule. 

I finally was able to dig deep enough to find out who this man is, it is in fact Jaroslaw Dabrowski (1836-1871) who was a Polish general and left-wing nationalist. He fought in the Russian Army and until his death in Paris when right after the Franco-Prussian War the city of Paris declared it's independence from the French government (this only lasted for about 3 months). Because of his radicalism he himself became a Communard (those who lived in the Paris Commune called themselves this) and died at the barricades less than a week before the fall of the independent city. Having tied himself so closely with this radical socialism and revolution his family was deeply shamed, which led to both his sons committing suicide. 

Poland still uses the Fourth Zloty series, not the Euro....yet. The 200 zloty bill continues to have Sigismund I on it, and you can see what the other bills have (they come in 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 zloty denominations) at this Polish banknotes page. As for the Euro it seems unlikely that Poland will adopt it before 2019 as it would need to join the Eurozone. 60% of the nation oppose switching from the zloty to the euro so it seems unlikely that the country will adopt it anytime soon. There is still a ton of more interesting history of Poland, Jaroslaw Dabrowski, Polish euro and the Polish zloty that I didn't get a chance to go into, so I suggest going out and exploring the topics, like how zloty is based on the Polish word for gold which is why this currency has been used since the Middle Ages and being officially adopted in the 15th century. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Running Crab - NH 217

NH 217
Running Crab Spider
Philodromus sp.
Category: Arachnids
Family: Philodromidae

Spider Saturday is back! And to start off a summer of spiders, we have this guy who is a running crab spider of the Philodromus genus. It's a fairly large genus with hundreds of species, so we can't be positive of what species this guy is unless we took a look under the microscope. This guy was found on May 29, 2011 in Cass Park, Ithaca, New York. 

I don't have too much information about these guys at the moment, though I'll try and look up some more information next time I go to the library as there is only so much information I can dig up on the internet. These philodromid crab spiders do not have webs though some will use silk as a dragline. This particular genus is generally flattened and you can see some visual aids in the identification process of Philodromus spiders here. And as you can see from the photo these spiders tend to have few, if any, hairs/spines on their bodies (known as setae). 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Boardman No More - PUB 067

PUB 067
Cornell's Boardman Hall Postcard
Media: Letters
Year: 1914
Details: From Ithaca to Trumansburg

And now that the summer season is essentially upon us you all should be seeing many new posts churning out of the Sholesonian. Today we have a postcard that was mailed nearly 100 years ago, 97 years this August to be exact. What makes this so interesting and why it was placed into the collection, aside from its age is that it features Boardman Hall from Cornell University in Ithaca New York. While that may not seem to interesting, the building no longer exists. Built in 1892 it was the home of the Law School until 1932 when the department moved to the new Myron Taylor Hall for law. The History and Government departments then moved in until 1959 when the building was torn down to make room for the new Olin Library (which still stands today). It used to be a prominent building on the Arts Quad, but a few of the stone faces built into the building were preserved in the new library building. 

The postcard itself is stamped August 12th, 1914 at 10:30 AM from the Ithaca Post Office. It has only one one cent postage stamp and is addressed to Miss Carrie S. Allen in Trumansburg, New York, Road #32. The format of the letter is interesting when noting the differences between now and then. The message itself reads:

"Dear folks, 
     Mary got a letter from Ruth stating She is feeling very well + doesnt know whether she'll be here or not. Have you hear from her. Marcia expects to come to Tburg + go to Kingtown (?) to morrow. She is like the paddri's (?) flee. Exams are all right but hard.

Another interesting piece for the Sholesonian that only confirms that Cornell University tests have always been hard. And you can read more about Boardman Hall and the history of the Cornell Law Department buildings here or check out the book Cornell: Then and Now by Ronald E. Ostman and Harrty Littell. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pepsi Cola Logo - HS 012

HS 012
Pepsi Cap
Era: 1990's
Details: red coloring gone

And a final post for today from the last collection: Historical and Cultural Significance. Now I learned a bit doing just a tad research about the history of the Pepsi logo. This particular specimen was found on the shore of Sampson State Park, New York back in the mid 2000's. When I first found it, it looked a bit older however upon further inspection it looks relatively newish. As it turns out this particular logo design was created in 1991 and Pepsi wouldn't change it until 1998, thus this cap came from a bottle somewhere in this time frame. 

You can see in the photo that the weathering from Seneca Lake and the sun over the years has taken its toll and erased the red from the logo. However you can clearly see what the design would have looked like in brand new condition. Check out this chart from FlowingData where they analyzed the changing logos of both Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola products. Pepsi's logo has changed quite a bit since 1898 but Coca-Cola has stayed relatively stagnant since 1885. Also, on the side of the twist-top bottle top, it says that the soda was manufactured in Cicero, New York. 

Be sure to like our Facebook page and stayed tuned for a summer of updates! 

Leafy Imprints - FOS 017

FOS 017
Fossilized Leaves
Location: Idaho
Family: Unknown

Fossils are a bit tricky for me to identify families/genera/species so I'm going to have to leave this identification for a later date (did you get the pun in there?). Anyway this is a small but well preserved leaf fossil from Early Eocene Epoch some 50 million years ago. It was dug up as part of the Salmon River Flora in Lemhi County, Idaho. During this time period the Earth was actually warming up and keep in mind that despite being 50 million years old this is relatively recent period as the continents were very close to their present location. You can check out an Eocene Map here. And to give you a reference point the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction event (that's what killed off the dinosaurs) was 65. 5 million years ago. 

Now I just did a little research about fossil leaves found in Idaho and I've narrowed it down to two probable genera. I am going to go with Betula which are the birches, however since I'm not a botanist I'm not positive that it can't be Alnus or the alder trees. But this leaf looks more like a birch than an alder in my opinion. If you want to learn more about fossils in general or even more specifically the fossils of Idaho check out this site which gives a very good overview of the fossilization processes and what kinds of fossils can be found from the different geological periods. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Colorado in New York - NH 222

NH 222
Colorado Potato Beetle
Category: Beetles
Family: Chrysomelidae

The newest insect in the Natural History Collection is this interesting beetle. Found on the rocky shore of Lake Ontario up by Sterling, New York on June 3, 2011. While you can't see it so well in the picture the beetle is an orange-yellowish color with ten black stripes running down the back. Its scientific name is Leptinotarsa decemlineata and despite its common name as the Colorado Potato Bug it is found throughout the United States and has even spread to Europe and mid-Asia. 

These little guys are a real pest. As their name implies they eat potatoes and can quickly skeletonize a plant. The real problem is controlling the population. These beetles are able to rapidly develop immunities to whatever we throw at it. Up until the 1950's they were relatively under control until they developed a resistance to DDT. Over time they have developed resistances to many of the pesticides attempted to control them and have learned to cope with other insects and predators used as sort of a live pesticide. They do have a weakness: a specific species of fungus is the scourge of the potato beetle and is the most widely used form of population control. 

These guys have an interesting history encompassing the history of the beetle and the potato. You can read up a little on it here at this Colorado Potato Beetle page. 

American Philippines - CC 347

CC 347
United States Coin
Origin: The Philippines
Unit: 1 centavo

This is an interesting coin coming from the Philippines. What makes it so interesting is that this was made while it was still under U.S. control. The Philippines went under United States control after the Philippine-American War which ended on July 4, 1902 and went under United States control. It wasn't until after World War II on July 4, 1946 that Filipinos gained their independence. This coin shows a crest of the United States with the bald eagle striking a majestic pose. The reverse features a Filipino looking outward towards a lightly billowing volcano in the distance. 

I can't be absolutely positive of the date on this piece. It appears to be 1929 when looked closely under my high power camera but it has been severely worn down through exhaustive use. However it was definitely made between 1903 and 1936 which were the years that this particular coin were minted. It is made completely of bronze and is worth 1 centavo; one cent in the Filipino Peso currency. You can check out a nicer and clearer picture of the coin at this Philippines 1 centavo information page. 

Impact! Rock - GEO 007

GEO 007
Class: Meteorites and Kin
Location: Vietnam

To celebrate finally getting back up and running after this month hiatus I'm going to present a very interesting piece that has to do with my forte: astronomy. This specimen is called a tektite or as a mineral Indochinite (named after where it is found: Indochina). You see when a meteorite falls from the sky it is moving at such a large speed that the impact can be explosive. Some impacts can be hundreds of times the energy of a nuclear bomb. This impact creates intense heat and the rock that isn't instantly 'vaporized' or blasted from the scene melts from the heat and can fly through the air cooling down and re-solidifying. This is a type of metamorphic rock called impactite. As the rock flies through the air and cools down it forms this typical tear drop shape. 

This particular specimen comes from Vietnam and this is the small helpful data found on the label it came with:
"Tektites are formed when a huge meteor collides with the Earth with such force that melted rock and meteorite are thrown at high speeds into the upper atmosphere. Here they cool and harden, preserving their splashed, melted shape. Tektites are found in areas that are sometimes thousands of miles across. These particular specimens are jet black and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some show aerodynamic ablation indicating high velocity flights through the Earth's atmosphere."
A very interesting and cosmic piece to add to the growing collection at the Sholesonian for sure. And be sure to check out this Tektite informative page. 

50's Style Algebra - PUB 065

PUB 065
College Algebra: Alternate Edition
By: Paul R. Rider, Ph. D.
Media: Textbook
Year: 1947
Details: The Macmillan Company

It's been awhile but we are back to regular posts from the collections. To start off we have this interesting old college mathematics textbook. I obtained this for the Publications Collection as I felt it demonstrated quite clearly the 1950's style, despite it being created a few years before that decade (1947 to be exact). This is "College Algebra: Alternate Edition" by Paul R. Rider, Ph. D. a professor of mathematics at Washington University and was published by the Macmillan Company in New York. While it was copyrighted in 1947 it was actually printed in 1951 during their fourth printing. 

The first part of the book is a review of elementary algebra: addition, division, signs, exponents, polynomials and functions. Chapter II focuses on linear equations (think equations with multiple variables that are of degree 0 or 1 and don't have multiple variables being multiplied together, i.e. 12 = 4x + 3y - 2z). Chapter III is some elementary factoring with Chapter IV going into fractions. It then goes into more detail with exponents and radicals before switching over to quadratic equations (i.e. y = x^2) and then solving equations involving quadratics such as when the lines y=x and y=x^2 intersect. Chapters VIII and IX focus on inequalities, proportions, and variations. The next few chapters go into binomials, progressions, complex and imaginary numbers, general equation theories and logarithms. Chapter XV takes a side step over into economics, teaching about compound interest and annuities but then switches over to permutations, combinations, probability, determinants, partial fractions, series, and finite differences, with answers to odd number problems in the back. 

You need to keep in mind that this is way before calculators and computers so everything needs to be done by hand. This isn't much different than today where students still need to learn how to do the math without the aid of calculators but some of the material is unnecessary today, such as the powers and roots table in the back. Below is a section of the book that covers infinite series. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Olive Shell - NH 095

NH 095
Olive Snails
Category: Gastropods
Family: Olividae

Well after a two week hiatus, the Sholesonian is back up with a blog post. Not to worry though, as during those past two weeks I have been busy with curating the specimens in the Natural History collection as well as capturing new species to add. Today's post is brought through a small donation of nice shells from Myrtle Beach,  South Carolina. Collected in April of 2011, these two shells belong to the Olividae family and are of the Genus Oliva (species is most likely Oliva sayana). These are snail shells that are commonly referred to as 'olive shells' or just 'olives.' 

They are a predatory species of marine snail, feasting on primarily small bivalves (like clams). Known for their elongated shape, these snail shells have been used for centuries in making jewelry and have become so popular, especially among collectors, that it is now the state shell of South Carolina. Also known for burrowing, these guys can be found mainly across the coasts of the Western Atlantic. You can read up a little on the Olive Shells here but there isn't too much to go on and you may have to do some jumping around.