Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sweet Honey - NH 024

NH 024
Honey Bee
Category: Bees and Kin
Family: Apidae

I again apologize for the lack of updates but it's been busy. Seeing as today is Saturday and I haven't adhered to Spider Saturday in awhile I thought I should dig up a spider, however I'm still a bit wary on the identification of the remaining few specimens and I thus hesitate to post them yet. Hopefully over the summer I will be collecting many more specimens, but since I'm not posting a spider I'm going to just go with something from Natural History.

Now, I'm not positive on the identification of this specimen but judging from information obtained from the InsectIdentification website's page on Honey Bees I'm going to temporarily go with that. Now the picture on the site shows a yellow-colored head, but from the information provided this would be a worker bee with it's nearly all black head. I'm sure it's common knowledge that these guys go around pollinating flowers and have extensive colonies, so I'm not going to go into too much detail on the lives of worker bees.

This guy, which I'm going out on a limb and declaring him Apis mellifera, was collected in Ithaca, New York, USA sometime in early September 2011. I unfortunately am lacking more details on this specimen as the record I keep is incomplete on specimens with ID numbers less than 26. But anyway it's a unique pose he has in the vial, so enjoy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's Going On

Sorry for the lack of updates, it's been busy over here. But that does not mean that things haven't been happening at the Sholesonian. My friend Dan and I have been busy at work photographing over 500 hundred of the artifacts on display and in museum storage. So just to give you a heads up and have a little fun, I chose a random photo from one of the pieces in the collections and you can take a guess as to what it is. Is it a piece from the Historical and Cultural Significance Collection or is it a more mundane piece from Geology? Does it actually belong to Coin Collections, or is it a piece of something that used to be alive? Take a shot and I'll be posting it later in the week.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cu Later - GEO 034

GEO 034
Native Copper
Class: Mineral
Location: Michigan

Oh wow, so apologies again for not posting in awhile but I've basically been gone all week. But last week I went to the King Tutankhamen exhibit down at Times Square then headed over to the American Museum of Natural History for the rest of the day. It was quite awesome and I'd tell you all to check out the exhibit, but it closes tomorrow and then Tut's artifacts are going back to Egypt to stay. But in March, Discovery is having a Pompeii exhibit starting in March so hopefully I'll be going to that as well.

Anyway, I'll post a fairly neat looking mineral for today. I'm sure you could probably guess what this piece really is, it looks almost like gold but with a coppery color. Of course this is copper in its native form. This particular specimen is from closer to home than most of the other geology collections. It was dug up in the Caledonia Mine in Ontonagon County, Michigan. And I just checked out the Caledonia Copper Mining Company's website and have to say it looks like fun. If you sign up ahead of time they will give you four hours to dig through a large pile of excess ore (for free) and you can keep any treasures you find. So I really want to check this out now.

Copper on the other hand occurs in this native form before it's melted down to make pipes and other useful items. Seeing as it's a native element it should come as no surprise that its chemical composition is simply Cu (also if you're wondering why copper is Cu it's because its Latin name is cuprum). It is fairly weak, only registering between a 2.5 and a 3 on Moh's Scale of Hardness (10 being diamond), but it has a fairly decent specific gravity with a density of 8.94 (water being 1). If you want to learn more, such as crystal structure and such check out this copper data page.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It's A Leaf! - NH 098

NH 098
Walking Leaf
Category: Phasmids
Family: Phylliidae

Sorry guys, but I'm not going to be able to post a spider today and there hasn't been any the past few weeks due to the holidays. But to make up for it I'm posting the newest addition to the Sholesonian which I actually just got today. Now it's not a spider, rather it belongs to the order Phasmatodea which also includes the very cool walking sticks. This particular species is Phyllium pulchrifolium (which if I understand my Latin the species name means beautiful foliage) though according to Wikipedia the species is also known as Phyllium bioculatum, but for now I'm sticking with the P. pulchrifolium classification.

This one, like my giant orb weaver, comes from Indonesia - specifically Banten, West Java and was collected last year in January of 2010. Now apparently these guys do have wings, though I guess that shouldn't come as much of a surprise. They can also be different colors depending on their environment, so a community that lives on brown-leaves trees they all might be brownish whereas this particular specimen obviously lived on green-leaved trees; however do not take this as they can change colors. You can tell this is a female specimen because of the short antennae, whereas males have much longer ones.

These guys typically only live for about four to seven months. And as ironic as it may be, they camouflage themselves to protect themselves from predators but they eat leaves themselves. Their reproduction methods are also interesting. The females can lay eggs with or without male fertilization. If laid without a male all the offspring will be female whereas it requires a male to fertilize the eggs for any males to be born. Check out these walking leaves in more detail. And to boot, I've taken a couple of cool highly magnified photos of the head and 'spine.'

Friday, January 7, 2011

With An Iron Fist and A Gold Hairpin - HS 029

HS 029
Korean Bookmark
Era: 2000's
Details: replica royal hairpin

Today's collection piece was donated by my friend Ga Young who's from South Korea, hence the Korean text you find on the information card. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get a hold of her lately so I can't directly translate the words myself, so if you know Korean it would be appreciated if you could email the museum at and we will add it as a correction later on. If you haven't noticed by now, this particular piece is a regular present-day bookmark but it's made in such a design to resemble a traditional Korean hairpin - known as a Dwikkoji.

The informational text on the card reads: "Gold Hairpin: It looks like a bird flying with its full-spread wings. Look closely at the top of the pin and you'll see what looks like a flying bird, engraved with simple images of honeysuckle flowers. There is evidence that it might have been more specifically made for people of royalty, especially because of its gold composition and its inlaid arabesque designs."

My good college friend Dan has taken it upon himself to do a little research on the history associated with this collection piece. The real life historical artifact that this bookmark is based off of is Korean National Treasure No. 159. This hairpin was found in the tomb of the Korean King Muryeong of Baekje who ruled from 462-523 A.D. He wore this 18.4 cm hairpin, which was made of gold. And just because it's so interesting it turns out that King Muryeong not only increased trade and contact with China but he crushed an rising rebellion in his second year rule. It also turns out that in 2001, Japanese Emperor Akihito acknowledged that he was of this Korean King's bloodline - a first for any Japanese emperor. Check it out and more at the Korean National Heritage Site.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hoyer Euro - CC 318

CC 318
German Euro
Origin: Germany
Unit: 1 Euro
Details: 1st map issue

So after the long post yesterday I'll give you a break and post a shorter one up today - though if you haven't already check out yesterday's post on the Titanic. This particular coin comes from Germany and was minted back in 2002 at Hamburg (you can see the J next to the date indicating that it was minted here). And if you're wondering what the title of this post comes from it's because the Hoyer's were the ones who designed the coin.

The obverse features the normal Euro map and the statement that it's worth 1 Euro (this is a first map coin which were made between 2002 and 2006 whereas the second map coins are made from 2007-present). The reverse features the German eagle - a symbol of German sovereignty. The eagle is surrounded by the 12 stars of Europe and the map features the gathering of the 15 states in the European Union.

That's it for now. You can check out this German Euro page for more specific details including metal content et cetera.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

History of Titanic Proportions - HS 028

HS 028
Titanic Coal
Era: 1912/1994
Category: Rock

Wow, it's been awhile since the last post but I have not forgotten you all so I present the first post of 2011 and it happens to be one of my favorite artifacts of the Sholesonian. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the story, the RMS Titanic sets sail from Southampton, England en-route to New York City. The largest passenger steamship of its time it was known as The Unsinkable and a feat of the engineering at the time. The marvel ship set sail on the 10th of April, 1912 but as fate would have it the Titanic struck an iceberg and sunk to the deep and icy depths of the North Atlantic taking with it over 1,500 poor souls that fateful day five days later.

This little piece of black rock just happens to be an authentic piece of this tragic tale raised up 2.5 miles up from the ocean floor. In fact this particular piece is Object Number 94/0036, now I'm not too familiar with numbering system of the RMS Titanic, Inc. but my guess is that this object number belongs to the larger chunk of coal. You see, something I learned when I got this piece back in 2009 is that the pieces of coal on the Titanic were huge - much larger than the little bricks that you would see on old trains. These things were larger than watermelons and remember that coal is still a rock (On this note I wasn't able to determine whether this was bituminous (sedimentary rock) or anthracite (metamorphic rock) coal).

The Certificate of Authenticity states that this piece of coal was recovered from the wreck of White Star's pride the RMS Titanic during the 1994 Titanic Research and Recovery Expedition. It also includes the following little tidbit:

"Of the nearly nine hundred crew members who kept Titanic functioning, none worked harder than those assigned to the Ship's boilers. Deep in the recesses of the Ship, twenty-nine boilers, measuring over fifteen feet in diameter, produced the high-pressure steam needed to propel Titanic's engines and machinery. The fuel for these boilers was coal - and each day over six hundred and fifty tons of that coal had to be moved from the bunkers by the trimmers and shoveled by hand into the furnaces by the firemen. These men, known collectively as the 'black gang' for their coal-dust covered bodies, were the true engine that drove Titanic from Southampton towards New York."

It turns out that these small pieces of coal are the only authentic artifacts that are able to be sold from the wreck. Unfortunately, however the rest of the artifacts and the ship itself are slowly deteriorating in the hostile environment at the bottom of the sea. Despite the hard pressure, cold temperatures, and constantly being surrounded by water the largest threat are small bacteria that eat the rusting metal. When you view photographs of the wreck you see an abundance of oddly shaped stalactite like formations. These 'rusticles' as they are known, are formed from the bacteria eating, and eventually the whole ship will collapse in upon itself. A sad fate for a site with so much history.

Now we all know that the Titanic hit an iceberg, started to sink, and eventually split into two parts. What you may not know is that the Titanic actually received a warning of ice and changed its course miles South to hopefully avoid any large icebergs that were making their way down from Greenland. And as it turns out the moon was not out that night and the sea was calm making it harder to spot icebergs by observing the wave activity at their bases. There are also theories that the iceberg not only hit the side of the ship but grazed the bottom of it as well and researchers are still trying to determine whether this holds any water (no pun intended).

Sorry that I've rambled on with this, and congrats if you made it this far you're helping keep history alive, but this particular piece has so much more history tied with it and personal stories of tragedy and thankfulness. The double-bottom, considered to be infallible, proved no match for the wrath of nature. Mistakes were made, not only were there not enough seats available on the lifeboats but they weren't filled to capacity. The icy waters, were terribly cold and hypothermia wouldn't take long to set in for those who met their end in the freezing sea. There is a lot to learn from this terrible disaster, but unfortunately the last surviving passenger of the Titanic passed away a few years back so it is up to others to keep the history alive.

Despite such a long post there is still plenty to learn about the Titanic. Things like 'Did you know that many paper currencies have been retrieved from the wreckage?' So check out the RMS Titanic, Inc website and the Titanic Wikipedia page and turn on the Discovery or History channel sometime.