Monday, February 28, 2011

The Tunes of Music - HS 007

HS 007
Music Tuner
Era: Mid-Late 20th Century
Details: still works great

Two posts in one day? Sounds unheard of, but I felt February needed an extra post to give it an edge over January as we venture into March. Anyway this is a cool musical piece that was given to me by my grandmother. It's an old music tuner. The edge of the piece has a hole where each letter in the scale is where you would blow through it and the pitch would come out. I'm no expert but it looks like it is an F-to-F Chromatic Pitch Pipe. The writing on it says: "INST.-MASTER-KEY-CHROM.PITCH-" on the obverse and the reverse has some more info but it's old and a little rusty (it's silver-colored on the opposite side). What I attempt to make out is "PAT. USA MAY 1925 - MARCH 17 31" along with "MADE IN GERMANY."

I can't really make out who made this or exactly when it was made (sometime after 1925 but I don't think it was quite that early). They do offer a resemblance to this Kratt Master Key Chromatic Pitch Pipe, however I can see some distinct dissimilarities in the writing on the inner circle (although it is tough to make out in their photograph). This piece is a nice addition, and what's more it is still in great working condition. If I can find a microphone sometime I may end up updating this page so you can all hear it, even though it just goes through the sequential notes.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Krakatau! - CC 010

CC 010
Volcanic Bill
Origin: Indonesia
Unit: 100 Rupiah

So just a quick post for the end of February, there hasn't been a bill posted from the Coin Collection posted in awhile so here is a pretty cool one from Indonesia (Which if you didn't know is comprised of 17,508 islands!). The obverse (shown below) has a picture of a traditional which Indonesian sailing cargo ship while the reverse (shown above) shows the erupting volcano Krakatoa (also spelled Krakatau). This particular bill is worth 100 Rupiah and was minted in 1992; the serial number is DBC077504. Briefly skimming through a few articles online it seems that in 1992 the rupiah was worth 1/5th of what it had been back in the '70's. The rupiah is subdivided into 100 sen.

Just a brief overview of the volcanic island of Krakatoa. This large volcano is most famous, or infamous in this case, for a large eruption back in 1883 that killed about 40,000 people. It is known for being the loudest sound ever heard in recorded history with people hearing the explosion for over 3,000 miles. Over 5 cubic miles of ash and debris was ejected, to help you picture this think of a large square that is a mile wide, mile long, and a mile high and you have 5 of these put together; it was a lot of ejecta material. The island (and surrounding islands) are still volcanically active but nothing as spectacular as the 1883 eruption. What is also interesting is that a year after the explosion scientists were studying the effects that the eruption had on the biology of the island. What they found was the only living thing was a small spider living under a rock, yet after years the island began to come back to life with grasses and eventually the ecology was restored. You can find out more interesting information on Krakatoa here.

Rugosa - FOS 018

FOS 018
Horn Coral
Location: Hamburg, NY
Family: Zaphrentidae

Now I generally don't post up fossils because I want to be fairly certain with the label before I do so and don't have enough time or resources to do some appropriate research. However, while I am not completely positive on the identification I'm hoping I'm correct with the family name. These types of fossils are generally known as Horn Corals due to their horn like appearance (the smaller end was attached to the reef) but they also go as Rugose Corals.

Generally solitary animals (yes corals are animals), these extinct creatures would live in shallow seas and have tentacles that would come out of the top portion to trap and capture prey. While I'm not completely positive on what the family/genus/species is for this particular specimen but it is very similar to the Heliophyllum genus of corals. I'm not going to say that it is because I don't think that it is quite the same but there are some close similarities, for now we can just keep it as a Rugose Coral. It was collected at the Penn Dixie site located in Hamburg, NY back in August of 2009.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Black Widow - NH 068

NH 068
Black Widow
Category: Arachnids
Family: Theridiidae

So after a a bit of a large break in the series Spider Saturday is back. This is a bit temporary at the moment as I still need to identify some of my spiders before I post them up here and have to wait until summer when I can capture some more (with a bit more diversity as well). But this is a pretty exciting addition with a bit of an interesting back-story. Also, you should note that I have come up with a new photographing structure that I will start taking up for smaller specimens. I hope it looks a bit more professional but as you can see it also includes a scale (per complaints). This scale in the bottom left has a white block and a black block each is 1cm long.

Anyway, the specimen if you haven't figured it out by now is a vial that contains quite a few baby black widow spiders. Latrodectus mactans to be exact. It's a interesting story as to its come-abouts. Over the summer my friend was collecting spiders, and without here knowing her sister placed an eggsac into one of the empty vials. Later, my friend showed us the vial which had the hatched eggsac and hundreds of baby spiders, but we didn't know what they were. Afterwards, my friend left the vial outside to let the spiders go, then we all found out that the eggsac was actually from a black widow. Don't worry though as the black widows couldn't survive in the chilly climate so no harm. In the end she thankfully donated the vial with some remaining spiders in it to me, and you should be able to clearly see one largish spider in the middle and the eggsac to the right, along with some fine web structure. The eggsac was collected in Matthews, North Carolina, USA in August of 2010.

I'm sure we all have heard some facts about black widows. In this particular species the females do on occasion eat the males and both sexes are venomous and can be fatal (the males however generally don't bite as their chelicerae (mouthparts) are too small). They do have the distinctive red hourglass pattern on their abdomens. Their diet consists mainly of insects and are occasionally preyed on my wasps, mantids, and centipedes. While their venom is extremely potent it is extracted in such small volumes that it generally doesn't lead to death but can still be quite harmful.

I've also included a very cool photograph of what the vial looked like after the eggsac hatched and all the spiders where still inside, rather than just the few that remain. And if you want to look up more information check out this black widow page. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Phillumeny - HS 030

HS 030
Norwegian Matchbox
Era: 1880's-1910's
Details: wooden construction

Well to make up for the lack of posts over the past two weeks, here is a very interesting and relatively new piece to the collection. If you are wondering what the title means, phillumeny is the collecting of matchboxes, so yep you've guessed it this is an antique matchbox. Now, unfortunately there doesn't seem to be too much information on these guys available online. I do know, however, that this is an old wooden matchbox made by the Norwegian Company Nitedals. Back then they were known as Impregnated Safety Matches. They were guaranteeing that they "Will NOT glow after being blown out," and feature that trademark 'running horse' logo.

Now, while the box features the Stockholm trademark date of 1866 and the Paris trademark of 1867, I've had some difficulty determining when this matchbox was made. I was able to find this somewhat useful matchbox label site, while I don't understand all of the words I can tell trough the pictures and the name TAENDSTIKFABRIK located directly on the box to determine the age of this specimen. So while I can't say with perfect certainty I'm fairly sure that the latest that this box was manufactured would be in 1912, but more realistically this was made somewhere in the late 1800's. A very interesting and well preserved piece to be sure. Also, there is a number "193." written in pencil on the cover which I'm fairly sure was used in labeling the box for storage purposes before I obtained it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lead, Iron, Antimony, Sulfide, Oh My! - GEO 003

GEO 003
Class: Mineral
Location: England

Wow, it's been nearly two weeks since the last update, so I apologize for falling behind by schedule of at least one per week - it always seems to be too busy around here. Anyway it was suggested that I post up something from the Geological Collection today so I present to you all: Jamesonite. Now what's odd about this particular specimen is that while I have a label claiming it to be said mineral, a little research has made it seem less and less like actual Jamesonite. As you can see from the above photograph my specimen is a fairly heavy chunk of metallic 'rock.' Whereas if you look at this Jamesonite photograph (the fibrous metal looking stuff in the middle), they are pretty different. This is not to say that my specimen is mislabeled at all, as there is always a vast array of differences between specimens, but I still hold some questions in the back of my mind. Also, I'm not judging solely based on that photograph but also from the description on this Jamesonite mineral data page.

Anyway, this specimen comes from the small fishing village of Port Isaac in Cornwall, England. The label also mentions Treore but I'm limited in what I can find on what exactly that means. The mineral species itself contains lead, iron, antimony, sulfur and is a part of the sulfide group of minerals. While rating fairly low on Moh's Scale (~3) it does have a decent specific gravity of around 6. And as mentioned earlier usually the mineral forms fibrous crystals that almost look like hair or it grows similarly to the mineral Stibnite (One of my favorite minerals). So enjoy this unique piece and check out the up-close view posted down.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tughra Coin - CC 232

CC 232
Pakistan Coin
Origin: Pakistan
Unit: 1 Paisa

Haven't posted anything in awhile, so I randomly grabbed a coin from the large box of cataloged ones. So I present you with this Pakistan 1 paisa coin. The currency of Pakistan is based on the rupee where 100 paisas equals 1 rupee. In 1961 the country switched over their rupees to make them decimalized, i.e. a system where 1 paisa is .01 of a rupee rather than a system. This is a 1971 version, made of aluminum, and they minted this particular type for six years from 1967 to 1973.

The obverse, which is the top picture here, features a crescent moon and star over what appears to be some sort of spire like thing with some intricate details. This turns out to be called a Tughra, which is a little piece of calligraphy similar to the pharaonic cartouches of Ancient Egypt. Each ruler would have their own design. The reverse design (see below) shows the denomination between to sprigs of oak. Any other information about this paisa can be found here and if you're interested in learning more about tughras check out this link.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pb and No J - GEO 046 *C

GEO 046 *C
Lead Sheet
Class: Elemental
Location: Man-Made

A few days back I posted a "What's Going On" entry where I had you guess what this particular specimen is. What you may notice is that the Sholesonian Identification on this piece is a bit different than others in the Geology collection. You see I didn't quite have a place for this piece to go. If you haven't noticed yet this gray sheet is a slice of some malleable lead (Pb, which stands for the Latin name plumblum). And this specimen doesn't really belong anywhere in the Collections I've set up. It's a man-made sheet so it doesn't quite belong in Geology but seeing as it once came from the Earth I'm going to place it there but create a subsection of pieces of a more Chemical nature.

Some brief information on lead is that it's atomic number is 82 and is a heavy metal. I have to be careful with this specimen as lead poisoning is a serious risk for animals which can lead to nervous system and brain damage. There is a lot of more in-depth chemical information on the lead page. However, for those who want a little more excitement when melted, one can dip their hand in some cold water and then immediately in the molten lead for a short time without any damage. This is due to the Leidenfrost Effect, where the heat from the lead is used to evaporate the water on the hand first creating a thin layer of steam which will protect your hand from burning and poisoning for a very short amount of time. I advise people to not try this but rather check out the MythBusters Molten Lead Experiment instead or this CSI Physics site on the science behind dipping your hands in molten lead. Enjoy!