MM2 - The Second Edition
The Second Edition of the Mini Museum took us to the Asteroid Belt and Medieval Europe. We learned about our Neanderthal ancestors and tracked a Woolly Mammoth, but that's just a taste...
In total, the Second Edition of the Mini Museum featured 26 incredible specimens spanning billions of years of history!
01. The Asteroid Belt
"They resemble small stars so much as hardly to be distinguished from them. From this, their asteroidal appearance, if I take my name, and call them Asteroids." ~ William Herschel after making observations of Ceres and Pallas in 1802
Between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter lies a ring of rocky objects known as the Asteroid Belt.
METEORITE, SOURCE : Asteroid Vesta, ESTIMATED AGE : c. 4,500,000,000 years old
Most objects in the Belt are less than 1km in diameter, but there are a dozen or so larger bodies including the protoplanets Ceres and the asteroids known as Pallas, Hygiea, and Vesta. These larger bodies are all thought to be primordial remnants from the origin of the solar system.
The specimen in the Mini Museum contains a mixture of different classes of meteorites known as HED meteorites (howardite–eucrite–diogenite). Direct observations by NASA's DAWN spacecraft indicate that HED meteorites come from a large impact basin in the southern hemisphere of Vesta.
02. Martian Atmosphere Zagami Meteorite
"Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle." ~ Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
Mars has a thin atmosphere which contains a mixture of elements found nowhere else in the solar system.
METEORITE, BASALTIC ROCK FORMATION : c. 170,000,000 years ago, ATMOSPHERE CAPTURE : c. 2,500,000 years ago
A rare number of meteorites contain traces of the atmosphere in the form of tiny pockets of shock-melt glass. The molecules trapped inside these meteorites reveal clues to the deep past of our closest neighbor in the solar system.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the Zagami meteorite, acquired directly from meteorite hunter Robert Haag. Zagami is one of the most studied of all martian meteorites. In 2013, NASA's Rover Curiosity confirmed earlier atmospheric studies on Zagami shock-melt pockets by direct observation on the planet's surface.
03. Libyan Desert Glass
"The breakdown of zircon to baddeleyite and silica-glass at temperatures in excess of 1676°C demonstrates that the Libyan Desert Glass is of impact origin." ~ Barbara Kleinmann
Opaque and luminous yellow-green, the source of Libyan Desert Glass remains something of a mystery.
IMPACT MELT, ESTIMATED IMPACT AGE : c. 28,500,000 years ago
There are many theories about the source though most evidence points towards a massive impact. Humans have known about this glass since the Pleistocene Epoch, creating tools and working the glass into decorations including a scarab belonging to King Tutankhamen's burial pectoral.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from several large fragments of Libyan glass, including darker glass which is thought to hold extraplanetary material from the source body.
04. Mount Fuji Lava
a day with Mount Fuji unseen:
~ Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694)
At 3,776 meters, Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. Yet, the modern Mount Fuji is actually three volcanoes in one: Komitake, Ko-Fuji, and Shin-Fuji. Over the course of the last several hundred thousand years, each volcano formed out of the remains of the last with Shin-Fuji becoming active roughly 10,000 years ago.
ROCK, CURRENT HEIGHT : 3,776m 12,389ft
In 864AD, lava from a massive eruption of Mount Fuji filled part of ancient Lake Senoumi, creating Lake Sai, Lake Shōji, and Lake Motosu. The fertile land left behind became the Aokigahara Jukai or "Sea of Trees". This tranquil region also has the unfortunate distinction of being known as the Suicide Forest.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a stone cutter near the Aokigahara. For five generations, this stone cutter's family has produced sculptures for shrines around Mount Fuji. It was provided by a friend of Hans who owns a cafe and bed and breakfast just outside the Aokigahara with a spectacular view of the mountain.
05. Japanese Star Sand
"Everything in nature which appears insignificant by mere sight not only remains unknown to the mass of the population, but still escapes whole centuries of observation by the precious few who seek to uncover the beauties of creation." ~ Alcide d'Orbigny, 1839
Foraminifera are single-celled creatures which produce a diverse range of beautiful and tiny protective shells.
MICROFOSSIL, TEMPORAL RANGE : 550,000,000 years to Present
These shells appear in the fossil record as far back as 550 million years, and in some locations, entire beaches are made up of these so-called "foram sands".
Several beaches on the islands of Okinawa are made up of foram sands. A folktale from the island of Taketomi says that the shells are really the children of the Polar Star and the Southern Cross devoured and spat out again by a giant serpent which served the Seven Dragon God of the Sea.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a private collection obtained many years ago from Hoshizuna-no-Hama ("Star Sand Beach") on the island of Iriomote in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.
06. Dimetrodon Spine Sail
"The apex of the spine in this species apparently flexible. The utility is difficult to imagine." ~ Edward Drinker Cope, 1886
With its fearsome jaw and reptilian appearance, Dimetrodon is often mistaken for a dinosaur even though the species died out long before the age of dinosaurs.
FOSSIL, ESTIMATED AGE : c. 272-295,000,000 years old
Dating back to the Early Permian Age nearly 300 million years ago, Dimetrodon falls into a clade known as Synapsids which includes Mammals. The purpose of the Dimetrodon's iconic spine sail is unknown, though speculation and study has ranged from thermoregulation, to sexual dimorphism, and perhaps even locomotion.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from several fragmentary spine sails found in West Texas. This region, known as the Texas Red Beds, contains one of the most complete fossil records of the Early Permian.
07. Ammonite Spiral
"Three times during their reign of more than 300 million years, ammonites experimented with the most bizarre and startling shell shapes." ~ Wolfgang Grulke, author of "Heteromorph: The Rarest Fossil Ammonites"
Ammonites are an extinct group of marine cephalopods which entered the fossil record 400 million years ago.
FOSSIL, ESTIMATED AGE : c. 110,000,000 years old
Their iconic shells exhibits a nearly perfect logarithmic spiral. This form is found in many natural phenomenon, from the shape of galaxies and hurricanes to patterns on sunflower heads and the approach flight of many animals.
The specimen in the Mini Museum are Cleoniceras from Madagascar, recovered from the Albian Stage of Lower Cretaceous formations.
08. Stegosaurus Plate
"Stegosaurus must have been a grand performer under attack— a five-ton ballet dancer with an armor-plated tutu of flipping bony triangles and a swinging war club." ~ Robert T. Bakker, The Dinosaur Heresies
The plates and spikes of Stegosaurus are called osteoderms, bony deposits that form in the skin rather than growing as extensions of the skeleton. Lacking an anchor to the skeleton, some scientists believe that Stegosaurus's plates would provide limited mechanical protection. The current scientific thinking leans towards temperature regulation as the primary function.
FOSSIL, ESTIMATED AGE: c. 150-155,000,000 years old
Using volumetric CT scans, researchers have been able to reconstruct 3D models of Stegosaurus plates, highlighting the likely paths of soft tissues and possible vascular pathways. This complex analysis shows promise when compared to similar structures in Alligators. New research also indicates that the thick osteoderms on the backs of Crocodilians store and neutralize the effect of lactic acid during periods of intense anaerobic activity.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a fragmented Stegosaurus plate recovered and reconstructed by paleontologist Gary Olson.
09. Dinosaur Skin
"Most of what is known about the morphology and taphonomy of dinosaur skin comes from several exceptionally preserved hadrosaurid fossils." ~ Matt Davis, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University
When we think of dinosaur fossils we usually imagine bones and teeth, but fossilized skin and scale impressions have also been discovered, as well as the imprints of feathers. In dinosaurs, scales occur in many different sizes with varied arrangements. The function of scales, aside from what we know from scales in other animals, is still under investigation, as is the complex relationship to the development of feathers.
ICHNOFOSSIL, TRACE FOSSIL, ESTIMATED AGE : c. 73,000,000-66,000,000 years old
Preservation of dinosaur skin and other soft tissues requires a combination of many factors including sedimentation and the presence of microbial mats. This delicate arrangement creates certain challenges for paleontologists when recovering skin. Early methods of extraction often bypassed these delicate structures entirely, but new methods are yielding surprising discoveries including the extraction of connective tissue and intact cellular structures.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from an Edmontosaurus, a hadrosaurid common during the Late Cretaceous Period and purchased directly from paleontologists working in the field on private land.
10. Raw Emerald
A casual glance at crystals may lead to the idea that they were pure sports of nature, but this is simply an elegant way of declaring one's ignorance." ~ René-Just Haüy, father of modern crystallography who first classified the emerald as a beryl in 1797.
We often hold up purity as chief virtue of the rare and beautiful, but in the world of crystals it is the impurity which often sets the stone apart and makes it desirable.
GEMSTONE, COUNTRY OF ORIGIN : Colombia
Beryllium aluminum silicate, also known as beryl, is a colorless crystal. Yet, the addition of chromium causes the beryl to turn green, becoming an emerald. Emeralds are rarer than diamonds due to the complicated geological forces required to produce the right combination of minerals.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a rough emerald from Colombia, acquired from a private seller. Colombian emeralds are unique among the rare world of emeralds as due to the near absence of iron which often results in a deeper green color.
11. Hell Pig - Entelodont Jaw
"Over the past 155 years, Entelodontidae have undergone revision at every taxonomic level." ~ Paleontologist Scott E. Foss, The Evolution of the Artiodactlys
During the Eocene Epoch, a new apex predator arose on the plains of Eurasia and North America. Popularly referred to as "Hell Pigs", Entelodonts had enormous jaws which could open nearly 90 degrees.
FOSSIL, ESTIMATED AGE : c. 24-33,000,000 years old
Given that some species stood nearly 2 meters at the shoulder, it's not hard to imagine how Entelodonts came by their nickname.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the lower jaw of an Archaeotherium, a cow-sized species of Entelodont which dominated the plains of North America for six million years.
12. La Brea Tar Pits
"We weren’t looking for stuff living in it." -John Harris, Paleontologist and Chief Curator at The Page Museum.
The La Brea Tar Pits are one of the most well-known petroleum seeps in the world.
TAR / FOSSIL, ESTIMATED AGE : c. 38,000 years old
Over many thousands of years, such seeps can grow into large, lake-like formations, trapping unwary wildlife in its sticky pools. Excavated animal remains at La Brea comprise nearly 700 different species and date back 40,000 years to the Late Pleistocene.
The specimen in the mini museum comes from a selection of mined La Brea Tar Pit material which contained the remains of coyotes, dung beetles, rabbits, and even a bald eagle. Recently, scientists have discovered living microbial communities in these ancient layers, leading to new ways of thinking about life here on Earth and elsewhere.
13. Mammoth Meat
"Various legends exist about frozen mammoths. It has been said that the scientists who excavated the Beresovka mammoth, discovered in the year 1900, enjoyed a banquet on mammoth steak. What really appears to have happened is that one of them made a heroic attempt to take a bite out of the 40,000 year old meat but was unable to keep it down, in spite of a generous use of spices." ~ Björn Kurtén in "How to Deep Freeze a Mammoth"
For thousands of years, the Woolly Mammoth was a dietary staple of many early humans across Europe, Asia, and later in North America.
PRESERVED MEAT, RADIOCARBON DATED: 19,551 years old
Roughly the mass of a modern African elephant, the woolly mammoth evolved some 400,000 years ago in Siberia from the steppe mammoth widespread on that continent, and ultimately spread westward into Europe and eastward into North America via the Beringian land bridge that once connected modern-day Russia and Alaska. This event may have been the second mammoth invasion of the New World, as the steppe mammoth forayed to North America about 1.5 million years ago and evolved there into the endemic (and enormous) Columbian mammoth.
In recent decades, well-preserved mammoth remains have been recovered from northern regions once covered in ice.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a well-preserved wooly mammoth discovered near the Indigkra River in Siberia, Russia.
14. Neanderthal Hand Axe
"One day, we may be able to understand why, of all the primates, modern humans spread to all corners of the world and reshaped, both intentionally and unintentionally, the environment on a global scale. I am convinced that parts of the answers to this question lies hidden in the ancient genomes we have sequenced." ~ Svante Pääbo, Director of Genetics the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine
Our understanding of Neanderthals has changed much over the last century.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, ESTIMATED AGE: c. 140,000 and 70,000 years old
Once thought to be nothing more than hair-covered brutes, stone tools discovered in an ancient cave above the French village of Le Moustier first opened our eyes to the possibility of a Neanderthal tool-making culture. Additional finds extended this culture across Europe and Central Asia, reaching back well over one hundred thousand years.
Recent genetic studies have also uncovered the fact that many of us have Neanderthal DNA embedded in our own modern genetic code. Neanderthals are not just a divergent species; they are part of us.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the collection of a retired French postman. He spent decades traversing rural France, and collecting Mousterian stone tools. The tools have been validated by experts in the field, with estimated ages between 140,000 and 70,000 years old.
15. Oasisamerica (Ancient Ceramics)
"Ancient Native history is a chain of successive scenes and simultaneous happenings." ~ Alfredo López and Leonardo López Luján
The history of the Native American people is a complex web of unique societies and civilizations stretching across two vast continents and many thousands of years. Our modern understanding of this history has changed much in recent decades, moving from ignorance to awe to an awakening of the subtle connections between distinct cultures that still exist today.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, ESTIMATED TEMPORAL RANGE: 100 BCE to 1500 CE
Stretching across the American Southwest and Northern Mexico, Oasisamerica is just one of many cultural "superareas".
For over one thousand years, several complex agricultural societies flourished in this region. In addition to beautiful ceramics, they built large and complex irrigation systems, multi-story dwellings, and conducted extensive trade with other societies thousands of kilometers away.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a range of ceramics associated with three of these ancient societies: Ancestral Puebloans, the Mogollon, and the Hohokam.
16. Bronze Age Dagger
"Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter." - Homer, The Illiad
For 2000 years, the Eastern Mediterranean was home to a series of increasingly sophisticated Bronze Age cultures bound by complex trade routes.
Then, in the late 12th century BC, empires from Greece and Anatolia to Egypt and Babylon collapsed in a rapid wave of famine, political upheaval, and war. Known today as the Late Bronze Age Collapse, the cause of this catastrophic event remains a matter of debate.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, ESTIMATED AGE: 12th Century BCE
By many accounts, these nations suffered from repeated attacks by "Sea Peoples", a loosely affiliated group of outside invaders. Some studies have questioned the violent perception of these sea peoples, suggesting that they were in fact migrants leaving areas effected by famine induced by dramatic climate change and war.
There is also a more nuanced version of events in which a large, interconnected group of nations suffered multiple calamities. While any of these issues might have been managed individually, the simultaneous occurrence of disasters and chaotic change resulted in a complete system collapse, casting the region into a dark age of isolation and rebuilding.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a pair of daggers dated to the late 12th century BC after the style of the Mycenaean culture. They were acquired from a private dealer of ancient armaments.
17. Medieval Chain Mail
"When we made the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, most of us wore imitation chain-mail made out of knitted wool, which was uncomfortable enough, but Graham Chapman, as King Arthur, wore a genuine metal chain mail coif and found the weight of it unbearable for more than short periods." ~ Terry Jones
Valued for flexibility in combat, chainmail was the primary defensive armor in Europe for more than one thousand years. Nearly all chainmail follows a four-in-one ring pattern created by the Celts in the 5th century in which a single riveted ring connects four punched rings.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, ESTIMATED AGE: 15th Century CE
To create a 'chainmail' or 'maille' garment, thousands of rings would be punched out whole or riveted from strands of wire. A blacksmith would weave the rings into sheets using a pattern of interlocking rings. Patterns varied by region, dictated by armaments and fighting styles. Given the labor-intensive process of weaving, chain mail garments were very costly to purchase but relatively simple to repair.
While the design of chain mail provided good protection from edged blades, it did little to ease the force of the blow. For this reason, knights would also wear quilted jackets beneath and over the mail.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a complete ring from a 15th century chain mail hauberk acquired in private auction. This period is considered the zenith of chainmail, as advanced plate armor began to supplant mail.
18. Shipwrecked Pieces of Eight
"The worst dreams that ever I have are when I hear the surf booming about its coasts or start upright in bed with the sharp voice of Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: 'Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!'" ~ Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
The real de a ocho, or Spanish "pieces of eight", was created in 1497 and went on to become the world's first global currency. The coins were accepted across the Spanish Empire and in many other countries.
One of the largest and most powerful financial enterprises in the history of the world, the Spanish Empire's wealth stemmed from early conquests on the Gold Coast of West Africa, but this paled in comparison to the discovery New World.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, DATE OF THE WRECK: November 2nd, 1641
Spanish convoys operated for more than two centuries, carrying raw materials, finished goods, and slaves to all corners of their Empire, transferring over $1.5 trillion in wealth.
In the New World, gold, silver, jewels and other resources would pool in the port of Veracruz then ships would carry them along the coast to Havana in Cuba. From here, fleets of twenty or more ships would make their way across the Atlantic.
One of those ships, the Concepción, left Havana in September of 1641 at the head of a 21-ship fleet and carrying 100 tons of silver and gold. A hurricane struck almost immediately, hobbling the ship, which then drifted into the reefs and shoals along the Florida coast.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the wreck of the Concepción, recovered in 1978 by Burt Webber, Jr. protege of the great treasure hunter Mel Fisher.
19. Petrified Lightning Saharan Fulgurites
"The tube is sometimes thick as a finger or thumb, sometimes as a feather quill... Sometimes if one knows them and is on the lookout they can be seen shining forth out of the earth." ~ Pastor David Hermann, Germany 1711
To most of us, lightning is a "bolt from the blue" - a flash of light breaking out of the clouds. It strikes the ground then fades to black against the crash of thunder. Dramatic as this sounds, the mechanics of lightning are very complicated.
A lightning strike is like two fingers coming together. An ionized column of air known as a leader works its way down from the clouds, meeting up with a similar column rising from the ground. As these two columns connect, a return stroke moves from the ground to the clouds creating the bright light we know as lightning. The amount of current moving through this connection is enormous and superheated air around the bolt explodes; this is what we call thunder.
MINERAL, MINIMUM FORMATION TEMPERATURE: 1,800 °C, 3,270 °F
When ground is composed of dry sand, the intense heat melts and fuses the silica creating tubes of rough glass called fulgurites. The process happens quickly, often trapping molecules from the surrounding atmosphere inside the walls of the impact tube. These complex, branching structures sometimes reach over 40' in length.
Modern scientists use fulgurites as natural time capsules. Scientists extract these fulgurites from fossil dunes which preserve the delicate structure of fulgurites as well as ancient soil deposits known as paleosols.
Microspectroscopic analysis of trapped gasses within the fulgurites provide a view to climates thousands of years old in regions where weather patterns have changed dramatically.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from fulgurites collected in the Sahara Desert. Analysis of saharan fulgurites provides additional evidence that the region was once more hospitable to life.
20. Hindenburg Airship Outer Skin
"Oh the humanity!" ~ Herbert Morrison, radio reporter recording live at the scene
At precisely 7:25 PM on May 6th, 1937, the Hindenburg burst into flames above the skies of Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. The Hindenburg was the largest airship ever flown. Its fiery destruction and the deaths of 36 people ended the age of lighter-than-air flight.
Though the Zeppelin Company originally planned to use Helium as the lifting agent, a ban on Helium exports by the United States forced the Hindenburg to fly as a Hydrogen-filled craft.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, GAS CAPACITY: 200,000 cubic meters, 7,062,000 cubic feet
Certainly there were concerns, but the Hindenburg line's rigid-frame design was based on engineering principles which had governed over a long, unbroken passenger safety record. Covering nearly 1,000,000 miles and the circumnavigation of the globe, Graf Zeppelins had experienced every possible combination of bad weather, including being struck by lightning.
Official reports blamed the explosion on the combination of St. Elmo's Fire and an undetected hydrogen leak. The surviving crew strongly disputed this claim and many felt that sabotage was to blame. To this day, most evidence to support such claims have proven circumstantial at best.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is from a piece of cloth retrieved at the scene by journalist Harry Kroh. Kroh was a local reporter dispatched to cover what was expected to be a routine landing, but turned into one the most well-covered disasters in history.
21. Golden Gate Bridge Suspension Cable
"At last, the mighty task is done." ~ Joseph B. Strauss, Chief Engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge
On May 27th, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public. The bridge was a marvel of engineering and daring. It represents the will and brilliance of people who achieved what others said could not be done. To this day it remains the world's most photographed bridge.
Developing the political support necessary to build such a monumental structure, fell to Chief Engineer Joseph B. Strauss. For nearly a decade, Strauss worked to promote the bridge. He wrangled financing, fought lawsuits, and oversaw the execution of the project.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, TOTAL WEIGHT OF WIRE USED IN CABLES: 23,185 tons
When it came time to build, Strauss put just as much hard work into the construction, delivering just five months beyond the promise date and $1.3M under budget. Less than a year after the Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public, Strauss passed away, suffering a massive stroke while recuperating in Arizona.
While Strauss is rightly credited with giving so much to the Golden Gate Bridge, this structure is also the work of many thousands of men, including designer Charles Alton Ellis. Ellis and Strauss had a difficult falling out during the early stages of construction, which led to Ellis' expulsion from the project. The State of California recognized his contribution in 2007.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the original 250 pairs of vertical suspender ropes attached to the main cables. The ropes were replaced in the mid-70s, and the State of California sold some of the material to help pay for the work. The process took four years and was itself considered a major engineering feat.
22. Olympic Torch Athens 2004
"We shall not have peace until the prejudices which now separate the different races shall have been outlived. To attain this end, what better means than to bring the youth of all countries periodically together for amicable trials of muscular strength and agility?" ~ Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games
The modern Olympic Games are the manifestation of the ideals of Pierre de Coubertin, who in 1894 revived the 3,000 year old concept of the Greek Olympiad as a practical, hands-on extension to the peace education movement of his day.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, DISTANCE COVERED IN 2004 OLYMPIC RELAY: ~ 78,000km/48,467mi
Coubertin's goal was nothing less than peace among all nations, which he hoped to bring about through a program of sport, emphasizing the unique value of each human body.
Over the last century, the sheer scale of the modern Olympic Games has come to mirror the complexity inherent in global human relations. Yet, Coubertin's Olympic motto, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (Faster, Higher, Stronger), has served well as a reminder of the indomitable human spirit at the heart of the Games.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a torch used in the Athens 2004 Olympic Torch Relay. This relay was the first global relay, with thousands of runners spanning every continent except Antartica.
23. Astronaut Mixtape (Skylab, 1973)
"And Houston, Skylab Two with you. We fix anything." ~ Pete Conrad, Mission Commander
An unmanned SkyLab launched on May 14, 1973. During the first minute of the flight, the micrometeoroid shield designed to protect SkyLab deployed early and crushed two of the space station's solar panels.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, MISSION DURATION: 28 days, 49 minutes, 49 seconds
Just days later, the astronauts scheduled to activate SkyLab found themselves in the position of rescuing the space station. Between risky EVAs and interior working conditions exceeding 130F, the three-man crew of Pete Conrad, Joe Kerwin, and Paul Weitz not only managed to stabilize SkyLab but also completed the scientific objectives of the mission.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a mission-flown mix tape prepared for pilot, Paul Weitz. The cassette was acquired at auction and has been digitally preserved. The complete playlist is available on Spotify.
24. First Super Computer (Cray-1)
"There's something about the speed of light; It's just hard to get around." ~ Seymour Cray
The Cray-1 was the first commercially successful supercomputer. Earlier attempts to create a viable supercomputer involved the use of incredibly complex integrated circuits. Seymour Cray, turned this convention on it's head using just three different types of integrated circuits across the entire machine. This approach yielded a machine that was so advanced a bidding war ensued for the first machine off the line and launched the legend that became Cray Research.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, ORIGINAL PRICE (1978): $8,800,000 USD, INFLATION ADJUSTED (2015): $32,208,809 USD
Earlier attempts to create a viable supercomputer involved the use of incredibly complex integrated circuits. The Cray-1 used just three different types of integrated circuits across the entire machine, vastly simplifying the architecture. For cooling, freon circulated through stainless steel tubing bonded between vertical wedges of aluminum fitted between the stacks of circuit boards.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment of a module board originally part of the Cray-1 installed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Introduced in 1975, the complete Cray-1 weighed 5.5 tons and was capable of 80 million floating-point operations per second.
25. Krayt Dragon Vertebra (Star Wars IV Prop)
"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
On May 25th 1977, George Lucas' Star Wars premiered in theaters. The film was an instant, but unanticipated success. It quickly became a global phenomenon.
HUMAN ARTIFACT , WHO SHOT FIRST: HAN SOLO
After the original filming in Tunisia, the production team left the Krayt Dragon as well as several sets to rot in the desert. Over the decades, the area has become something of an attraction with locals excavating material and selling it to film location tourists. However, while some sets have remained, the dragon was eventually lost to the shifting dunes.
This specimen is a fragment of film prop skeleton used in Star Wars: A New Hope. The "Krayt Dragon," a long serpentine skeleton seen in the desert of Tatooine, is encounted by C-3PO soon after separating from R2-D2 at the beginning of the film.
26. Apollo 14 Moon Tree
"We sure picked a clear day to arrive - you can see all the way to the horizon." ~ Stuart Roosa, Apollo 14 Command Module Pilot, upon entering lunar orbit.
In 1971, Apollo 14 carried astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, and Stuart Roosa to the moon along with hundreds of tree seeds. It was thought that the seeds would no longer be viable, but surprisingly, most of the seeds survived and were germinated and dispersed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the nation's bicentennial celebration in 1975 and 1976.
PLANT, DISTANCE TRAVELED: 1,851,262km, 1,150,321mi
Before becoming a test pilot and astronaut, Stuart Roosa worked for the Forest Service in the 1950s as a smoke jumper. After going to the moon, Roosa continued on with the space program. He was a backup pilot for Apollo 16 and 17, then worked on the Space Shuttle program until his retirement from the Air Force. Roosa passed away in 1994, and a second-generation moon sycamore was planted at Arlington National Cemetery to honor his service.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the downed limb of a first-generation moon sycamore living between the Kuiper Space Sciences Building and the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, Arizona. The limb was damaged in a storm and recovered by Senior Research Specialist and White House Champion for Change, Dolores Hill. We are incredibly grateful for her kind donation of this rare and unusual specimen.