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.