This Grand Collection contains 29 incredible specimens from across space and time. This page includes everything you need to know about this Edition, including indepth profiles of every specimen. TL;DR this page is huge.
Billions of years of science and history is a lot to take in all at once so be prepared for a journey of several lifetimes! Let's go!
About the Third Edition
Soaring to New Heights!
Beginning with rare gems formed in the heart of an asteroid during the formation of the solar system, the Third Edition of the Mini Museum features 29 incredible and inspiring specimens.
Specimens of the Third Edition
A journey across billions of years of history awaits!
01. Space Gems (Pallasite Peridot, c. 4,557,000,000)
"On the basis of a modest conjecture, I have undertaken a dangerous journey. Yet, already I see the foothills of new lands." ~ Immanuel Kant, 1755 Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens
Created in the heart of an asteroid just after the birth of the solar system, Pallasite Peridot is among the rarest and oldest gems.
METEORITE, GEMSTONE, ESTIMATED AGE: c. 4,557,000,000 years old, RARE: Less than 1% of all meteorites are classified as Pallasites
Pallasites are characterized by a unique matrix of the mineral Olivine embedded in solidified iron and nickel. This combination of two materials of contrasting densities is as surprising to science as it is beautiful to the eye.
The specimens in the Mini Museum are fragments of Peridot from the Jepara meteorite discovered in 2008 on the Indonesian island of Java. The original mass weighed 499.5 kg (1100 lbs) with a diameter of just 85 cm (33 in).
02. Oldest Earth (Jack Hills Zircon, c. 4,374,000,000)
"The only physical evidence from the earliest phases of Earth’s evolution comes from zircons." ~ John Valley, Geoscientist
Zircons are quite common in the crust of Earth. They are shed through the process of erosion once igneous rocks reach the surface, at which point the zircons are incorporated into new sedimentary layers.
ROCK, GEMSTONE, ESTIMATED AGE: c. 4,374,000,000 years old
However, in Australia, the rough, sedimentary layers of the Jack Hills formation contain the oldest zircons ever discovered. In addition to being the oldest known samples of Earth's crust, the zircons of the Jack Hills formation also contain water and the earliest suggestions of life in the form of biogenic carbon.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a small piece of the Jack Hills formation north of Perth in Western Australia. The specimen was purchased from Tom Kapitany of Crystal World and collected in accordance with Australia's cultural heritage and mining laws.
03. The Great Oxygenation Event
"Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again." ~ L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz
The Great Oxygenation Event marks the buildup of oxygen in the Earth's early atmosphere. Reaching a peak 2.3 billion years ago, the evidence of the Great Oxygenation Event is found in banded iron formations found across the planet.
The striking red, black and silver colors of Banded Iron Formations are composed of thousands of iron oxide layers. Each layer is distinctive and the current leading theory suggests that they are the result of oxygen released in the early acidic seas by photosynthetic cyanobacteria.
ROCK, ESTIMATED DURATION: c. 3,800,000,000 to 1,800,000,000, ESTIMATED PEAK: c.2,330,000,000
After more than a billion years, this process resulted in the semi-permanent oxygenation of Earth's oceans.
Even considered on the scale of geological deep time, the Great Oxygenation Event is a very long running process, perhaps spanning more than 2,000,000,000 years. There is also substantial evidence that this process ran in fits and starts in different regions of the world, and was influenced by asteroid impacts and massive volcanic eruptions.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the Mid Archean Pilbara supergroup formation located in Western Australia. The estimated age is of this group is 3,020,000,000 years old.. The specimen was recovered by Tom Kapitany of Crystal World in strict accordance with Australia's cultural resource protection legislation.
04. World's Oldest River (Finke River, c. 400,000,000)
"How the river has worn its way through a basalt range half a mile thick and 1,000 feet high is a mystery." ~ Charles Chewing, Sources of the Finke River (1886)
The sinuous Finke River in Australia has mesmerized human beings for thousands of years. Aboriginal mythology ties the creation of the river's curves to the Rainbow Serpent which shaped the entire landscape of Australia after the Dreamtime when the world was flat and still.
SAND, ESTIMATED AGE: c. 400,000,000 to 350,000,000 years old
These wildly meandering curves cut deep into the mountains and hills of Central Australia. This suggests that the river must be even older than those hills which formed roughly 300-400 million years ago during a mountain-forming event known as the Alice Springs Orogeny.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the bed of the Finke River. The river was free flowing when we collected the small sample, which is an unusual occurrence. We are greatly indebted to Hank Ebes for the generosity of his time in introducing us to the natural beauty of Central Australia.
05. Jurassic Tree
"Araucaria was targeted as commonly available nutritious food source by many high-browsing megaherbivores." ~ Jürgen Hummel, Professor for Ruminant Nutrition, Georg-August-University Göttingen)
Over the last 200 million years, the "primitive" look of the Araucaria hasn't changed much. Averaging 30-60 meters in height, these conifers feature straight, columnar trunks and branches covered in overlapping, scale-like leaves.
FOSSIL, TEMPORAL RANGE: TRIASSIC to present
It should come as no surprise that scientists believe this conifer was a favorite food for long-necked sauropods. Recent digestive studies suggest that Araucaria is capable of yielding a surprising amount of energy when fermented for long periods.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment of Araucaria from Queensland, Australia located in strata dating to the Jurassic. The specimen was purchased from Tom Kapitany of Crystal World. It was collected in accordance with Australia's cultural heritage and mining laws.
06. Crinoid Stem
"It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top." ~ Hunter S. Thompson
Sometimes referred to as feather stars or sea lilies, crinoids are members of an extended and very ancient family of sea animals known as echinoderms. An integral part of the explosion of complex life during the Cambrian Period, the symmetry of the crinoid's body plan is fascinating and beautiful.
Before they were identified as fossils, segmented Crinoid stems were sometimes referred to as "fairy money". This is not so different from the way other fossils were viewed, such as "snake stones" (fossil ammonites) or "snake tongues" (fossil shark teeth).
FOSSIL, TEMPORAL RANGE: Ordovician (485,400,000) to present
There are three very basic forms of symmetry in biology: bi-lateral, spherical, and radial. Humans exhibit bilateral symmetry, with our bodies organized along a centerline. Spherical symmetry is generally limited to very small organisms like algae which form spherical colonies. The last form, called radial symmetry, is a bit like a pie where body parts are arranged around a central axis.
There are a number of variants to this radial symmetry wherein body parts are separated into four, five, six, or even eight symmetrical pieces. Echinoderms are the only animals that exhibit the five-part, or pentaradial form of radial symmetry. This body plan also happens to result in interesting fossil shapes.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the center of a crinoid stem, also known as a "columnal". It was recovered near Talsint, Morocco. The fossil beds in this region are from the Bajocian Age of the Middle Jurassic Epoch 170,000,000 years ago.
07. Spinosaurus Spine Sail
"Spinosaurus appears to have been poorly adapted to bipedal terrestrial locomotion. The forward position of the center of mass within the ribcage may have enhanced balance during foot-propelled locomotion in water." ~ Nizar Ibrahim, Paleontologist, University of Chicago
Topping out at just over 59ft long (18m), Spinosaurus is one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs ever discovered. This family of semi-aquatic theropods also happens to be among the most surprising creatures in the fossil record.
Nearly everything about Spinosaurus defies traditional thoughts about carnivorous dinosaurs.
FOSSIL, TEMPORAL RANGE: 112,000,000 to 97,000,000 years ago, MAXIMUM KNOWN LENGTH: 18m (59ft)
Spinosaurids are the only known family of semi-aquatic dinosaurs. They also had long, narrow skulls, almost crocodile-like in appearance, and their jaws were lined with conical teeth instead of the curved, blade-like ziphodont teeth of most theropods.
Of course, Spinosaurus also had elongated neural spines forming a massive dorsal sail. In some species, the spines in the namesake sail measure more than 2 meters in length, providing the framework for an impressive structure that would rise high above the water.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the Kem Kem Beds in Morocco. During the Cretaceous Period, this region was part of a vast river system. In recent years members of the Spinosaurus family have been found in many parts of the world including Europe, South America, and even Australia.
08. Ankylosaurus Dermal Armor
"The armor are bones that form within the skin, just like crocodiles." ~ Ken Carpenter, Director USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum
Covered in rows of bony plates and wielding a powerful clubbed tail, the Ankylosaurs are one of the most distinctive and successful of all dinosaur families. Spread across more than 90 million years of the fossil record, various species of this sturdy dinosaur can be found on every continent on earth.
The plates of an Ankylosaurus were not part of the skeleton, but rather formed within the skin. This type of growth is called an osteoderm. Osteoderms usually begin with small nodules of cartilage around which more dense material forms.
DINOSAUR FOSSIL, ORNITHISCHIAN, TEMPORAL RANGE: 68,000,000 to 66,000,000
Osteoderms are found in many different and unrelated species from reptiles and amphibians to mammals, fish, and of course dinosaurs. They sometimes form fantastic structures such as the shells of the armadillo and glyptodon, or the tall, dorsal plates and tail spikes of Stegosaurus.
Recent studies have shown that most of the osteoderms on Ankylosaurus were relatively thin, and bound together by a complex arrangement of collagen fiber bundles. This structure kept the armor light and flexible as the plates grew larger and thickened over time. This finding is true even of the bony "tail clubs" found on some species.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from Ankylosaurus dermal plates recovered by paleontologists working on private land. Large and oval in shape, these scutes are consistent with the armor that protected the neck and shoulders of Ankylosaurus from the sharp teeth of predators.
09. Mosasaur Jaw
"A swift and powerful swimmer over short distances, the Mosasaur used surprise and the thrust of his muscular tail to outrun his prey with a short burst of speed." ~ Michael J. Everhart, Oceans of Kansas (2005)
If we look first to the sea, the Mesozoic Era might not be known as the Age of Dinosaurs, but rather as the Age of Marine Reptiles. Beginning with the appearance of the dolphin-shaped Ichthyosaurs in the Triassic Period, the rising seas of the Jurassic Period led to a wide variety of large predators including the long-necked plesiosaurs and pliosaurs to the powerful Mosasaurs.
FOSSIL, TEMPORAL RANGE: 92,000,000 to 66,000,000 years ago, MAXIMUM KNOWN LENGTH: 17.4m (57ft)
Mosasaurs ranged in size from 1.1m (3.3ft) to 17.4m (57ft). Their skulls were flexible and their jaws were double-hinged. While this arrangement probably allowed a Mosasaur to swallow prey whole, the alignment of a Mosasaur's teeth with "bony crypts" to protect emerging teeth also suggests Mosasaurs likely crushed bones as frequently as they tore into flesh.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the muzzle of a juvenile Tylosaurus proriger. This species typically grew to a length of 15m (50ft). The specimen was collected on private land in Western Kansas.
10. The San Andreas Fault
"Big earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault are inevitable, and by geologic standards extremely common." ~ Lucile M. Jones, USGS ShakeOut Scenario (2008)
On the morning of April 18th, 1906, a powerful earthquake woke the city of San Francisco at precisely 5:12AM. Fires resulting from the quake destroyed 80% of the city, killing more than 3,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. It was as violent an introduction as one could imagine to the presence of the 28 million year-old San Andreas Fault.
ROCK , ESTIMATED AGE OF THE FAULT: c. 28,000,000 years old, LENGTH OF THE FAULT: 1300km (800mi)
Disconcerting as this may be, the 1906 quake is not the largest quake possible along the San Andreas or even the largest that's occurred in the past. All along the fault's 1300km (800mi) spine, we can see the history of two continental plates grinding past each other.
The specimen in the Mini Museum was recovered from the Tejon Pass, where the interface between the North American and Pacific plates are directly exposed and easily accessible. Each specimen is comprised of parts of both plates.
11. Megalodon Tooth
"You're gonna to need a bigger boat." ~ Roy Scheider as Police Chief Martin Brody, Jaws (1975)
The Megalodon shark dominated the oceans of the world for over 20 million years. Reaching sizes upwards of 18m (59ft) in length, the largest Megalodon jaw reconstruction measures 3.3m (11ft) across and 2.7m (9ft) tall.
FOSSIL, TEMPORAL RANGE: c. 23,000,000 to 2,600,000 years ago, MAXIMUM KNOWN LENGTH: 18m (59ft)
Computer models suggest that a full-grown Megalodon had the most powerful bite of any known animal in the fossil record, somewhere between 11 and 18 tonnes or 25,000-40,000 pounds. This epic jaw was also lined with enormous teeth - 46 in the front row, to be exact, with 5 more rows waiting behind.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the fossilized tooth enamel of a Megalodon shark. The teeth come from the coastal rivers of South Carolina, one of the most popular regions for hunting Megalodon teeth.
12. Moldavite Impact Glass
"In its oddness, it reminds one of the strange ring mountains of the Moon, and it is easy to think that the origins of these as well as of the Reis Basin are due to the same causes." ~ Ernest Werner, amateur Geologist and the first to suggest Reis basin origin is not volcanic (1904)
For many years, a pastoral region of southern Germany was thought to be the remains of an ancient volcanic crater. Imagine the surprise when it was discovered that the the Nördlingen Ries Basin was in fact an asteroid impact site some 14,400,000 years earlier.
IMPACT MELT, ESTIMATED IMPACT AGE: c. 14,400,000 years ago
In an instant, a 1.5km wide asteroid released 2.4×10^21 joules - enough energy to power the entire modern human world for more than six years. This tremendous blast gouged out hundreds of cubic kilometers of material and created created a complex array of materials, from new metamorphic rocks studded with impact diamonds to stunning, green gems called Moldavite.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from Moldavites found in the Bohemia region of the western Czech Republic. 99% of all Moldavites come from this region.
13. Giant Sloth Claw
"I will venture to refer to him by the name of the Great-Claw..." ~ Thomas Jefferson (1799)
Often known for their great claws and ungainly appearance, ground sloths were a very successful family of mammals.
FOSSIL , TEMPORAL RANGE: c. 4,800,000 to 11,000 years ago
The largest species evolved during the Pliocene epoch in the midst of a period of great migration between North and South America. This "Great American Interchange" lasted millions of years, beginning with island hopping and peaking as animals crossed freely over the newly formed isthmus of Panama.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the tip of an Eremotherium claw, discovered on private land and partially restored by George Heslep. Eremotherium stood roughly 4m tall (20ft) and weighed 3,000 kilograms (6,600lbs).
14. Dire Wolf Bone
"Let me tell you something about wolves, child. When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives." ~ George R.R. Martin, Song of Ice and Fire
The real dire wolf was one of the most successful predators of the late Pleistocene epoch. Ranging from Alaska to Bolivia, this muscular carnivore fed on a wide variety of large prey including bison, camels, horses, mastodons, and mammoths... even giant sloths!
FOSSIL, TEMPORAL RANGE: c. 250,000 to 10,000 years ago
Yet, despite the dire wolf's advantages in size and numbers, it disappeared along with many other large species at the end of the Pleistocene epoch. Most scientists believe that rapid climate change played a major role in this large scale extinction event, but it would be difficult to ignore the introduction of humans to the Americas as the two species often sought the same prey.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the partial remains of a dire wolf found in Florida on private land.
15. Egyptian Papyrus
"Before we leave Egypt we shall also describe the nature of papyrus, since our civilization or at all events our records depend very largely on the employment of paper." ~ Pliny the Elder
In ancient Egyptian cosmology, the world began as dry land emerged from the primeval waters. The darkness of the world was filled with light, and there in the marsh the papyrus grew. From this creation myth, the humble papyrus went on to serve as the symbol of life in Egypt. It rivaled linen as a chief commercial export and evidence suggests this writing material was in use for over 5,000 years.
Given the enormous importance of papyrus paper, it should come as no surprise that the manufacturing process was a closely guarded state secret. The royal monarchy maintained such strict control of the industry that the first surviving record of the manufacturing method doesn’t appear until the first century CE, during the height of the Roman Empire.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, ESTIMATED USE IN HUMAN HISTORY: 5,000 years
In his Naturalis Historia, Pliny the Elder (23-79CE) describes a very labor-intensive process in which pith was removed from the center of the stalk and cut into thin strips. The strips were placed side by side and then a second layer was added perpendicular to the first. Muddy water from the Nile was applied as a binding agent and the layers were hammered together. After drying under pressure, these sheets were bound or pasted to form long scrolls.
Modern, chemical investigations of the binding properties of the papyrus plant indicate that no glues were actually needed. While papyrus contains very little starch or raw sugars, research suggests that long chains of fructose molecules known as fructans are indeed present. Boiling the papyrus stalks would likely allow these fructans to serve as the binding agent. Laboratory tests show that this type of natural papyrus paper is both more supple and durable than any made with glue or other natural binding agents.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a selection of fragmented papyri collected over many years by a German dealer of antiquities.
16. Viking Axe (10th Century CE)
"Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race ... The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets." ~ Alcuin of York, on the first Viking raids of 793
More than 1200 years ago the Vikings left the fjords of modern Scandinavia and set out sea. Today, nearly every country in Europe has a story to tell of the Viking expansion and a complex history of their many societies is slowly being rediscovered.
They scouted and raided the entire coast of Europe and all of the major rivers of the continent. During their time in southern and eastern Europe, Norsemen served as mercenaries for the Byzantine Empire and enforcers of the peace in slavic lands.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, ESTIMATED AGE: c. Early 10th Century CE
They expanded far to the East, establishing colonies in today's Russia. The Kievan Rus as they were known also traded with the Islamic world. Rare evidence of this extensive trade network was discovered in the 19th century when a ring bearing Arabic script was uncovered in the 9th century grave of a woman on the Swedish island of Björkö.
In the north Atlantic, Norsemen discovered the island of Iceland, the archipelago of Svalbard, and the micro-continent Greenland. They also made several attempts to colonize a land further west which they called Vinland and which we call North America.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a Viking bearded axe. By the style, the axes are dated to 900 CE. The axes were restored in the 1960s using the techniques of the time, which tended to focus on the beauty of the finished object as opposed to stabilizing and preserving the material. We worked closely with blacksmith Kerry Stagmer and the smiths of Baltimore Knife & Sword to prepare the material for inclusion.
17. Samurai Sword (14th Century CE)
"夏草や 兵どもが 夢の跡 - Summer grass... all that remains of warrior dreams." ~ Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694)
The Japanese sword is a symbol of unparalleled beauty and quality. Bound closely to the image of the samurai class, the blades are highly prized and honored by collectors all over the world. The history of these incredible weapons and the warriors who wielded them are intimately connected to the development of the Japanese nation and the culture of modern Japan.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, ESTIMATED AGE: c. Early 14th Century CE
The specimen in the Mini Museum is comprised of two parts. The first is from a Ko-tō period katana circa the mid-1300s. It is a single-forged blade attributed to the Yamato Senjuin School. The second piece is a late-Edo period Kamishimo, including a sleeveless jacket known as the Kataginu and the trousers known as the Hakama.
The blade was selected with the generous support of Pablo Kuntz. Pablo is the owner of Unique Japan, a respected dealer of Japanese swords worldwide. While lovely, the blade has a number of micro-fractures that made it unsuitable, and potentially dangerous, as a collectible. The Kamishimo was selected to compliment the sword and was acquired at auction.
18. Venice Street Brick (14th Century CE)
"I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs; A palace and a prison on each hand..." ~ Lord Byron, 1812
The City of Canals, the City of Bridges, the City of Masks... The city of Venice has been known by many names and ruled by many hands. Yet despite its legendary history at the center of a long-lived republic, it is the ever-present Adriatic Sea which has defined the fortunes of Venice, and it is to those waters that the city may eventually return.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, ESTIMATED AGE: c. Early 14th Century CE
As the seat of power in the Republic, the city of Venice held great sway over commerce and maritime transport in the region. Many Venetians traveled even further, including the Polo family who went all the way to the court of Kublai Khan in China.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from an early 14th century paving brick uncovered in the Cannaregio sestiere during a recent renovation. The brick was acquired directly from the architectural firm performing the renovation. We are extremely grateful for the assistance of Mini Museum Backer N. Lugato in identifying and securing this specimen.
19. Rough Opal
"Opals combine brilliant qualities of the most valuable gems and, above all, defy description." ~ Pliny the Elder
A gemstone almost alive with an intense inner fire, opals have held the attention of humans for many thousands of years. From Egypt and Classical Greece to China and the Americas, ancient civilizations valued the beauty of opal, but it is only in recent history that we've come to understand the complex nature of this unique gemstone.
GEMSTONE, ESTIMATED AGE: 110,000,000 years old
Opal forms in areas where water comes in contact with sandstone and filters deep into the Earth, picking up more silica along the way. This silica-rich solution settles into cracks, natural fractures in the rock, or even into fossilized organic material. Under intense heat and pressure, most of the water evaporates leaving the silica behind.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is opalized fossil plant material from Lightning Ridge in NSW, Australia. Australia is the largest producer of opals in the world. The opal fields here date to the Cretaceous when Central Australia was home to an enormous inland sea, known to science as the Eromanga Basin.
20. The First Transatlantic Cable
"What hath God wrought?" ~ Samuel F.B. Morse, 1844
Ten years after Samuel F.B. Morse sent the first telegraph message in 1844, the world was hooked on the new form of rapid communication. Yet even with this breathtaking progress, overcoming the Atlantic Ocean seemed an impossible task. Nearly two thousand miles of open ocean separated the closest two points between Europe and North America, and the depth along the route often exceeded two miles. Spanning this enormous gap would require the will of a person of immense vision and grit, and perhaps even a touch of madness.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, LENGTH: 2,500 Nautical Miles, WEIGHT: 5,200 Tons, DATE CONNECTED: August 4th, 1858
On August 4th, 1858, after already suffering one failed attempt to connect the line, entrepreneur Cyrus West Field and the USS Niagara reached Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, connecting the first Transatlantic Telegraph Cable. Within days, messages began flowing between the two continents at a rate never before imagined. The world had become smaller in what seemed like an instant.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a section of the original Transatlantic cable carried aboard the USS Niagara. After the completion of the first line, the remaining cable was purchased by Charles Tiffany with the intent of selling souvenirs commemorating the linking of both continents. Stored for over 100 years, several cases of finished cable sections were located and later sold by the the Smithsonian Institution in the 1970s.
21. Alcatraz Penitentiary
"It looks like Alcatraz has got me licked." ~ Gangster Al Capone
Inhospitable and inescapable, the legendary Federal Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island played host to some of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, TOTAL PRISONERS OVER 29 YEARS OF OPERATION: 1,545
Originally conceived as a concentration program to manage the most difficult prisoners in the federal penal system, the isolated and harsh environment of "The Rock" became a symbol of cold, impersonal justice, earning the prison it's infamous nickname. Today, Alcatraz Island is a National Park visited by over 1 million people each year.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from concrete salvaged by the National Park Service during restoration of the site.
22. WWII Enigma Rotor
"The German U-boats were sinking our food ships and our ships bringing in armaments left right and centre, and there was nothing to stop this until Alan Turing managed to break naval Enigma, as used by the U-boats. We then knew where the U-boats were positioned in the Atlantic and our convoys could avoid them. If that hadn’t happened, it is entirely possible, even probable, that Britain would have been starved and would have lost the war." ~ Captain Raymond C. "Jerry" Roberts, Bletchley Park Codebreaker
HUMAN ARTIFACT, MAXIMUM PERMUTATIONS: 1.56 x 10^25 or 84 bits
In times of war, the struggle for information often means the difference between winning and losing.
Yet few efforts to conceal and reveal information reached the scale or importance of the puzzle which surrounded the German Enigma during World War II.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the remains of several ruined, military-grade Enigma rotors. Each individual specimen contains fragments from the key components of the rotor, including: the notched "thumbwheel", the alphabet ring, and the core of the rotor which contained the wiring and contacts that enabled the system to function.
23. Fordite Motor Agate
"Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants as long as it is black." ~ Henry Ford, 1909
The bright, jewel-like layers of Fordite are comprised of thousands of layers of automobile paint.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, ALSO KNOWN AS: Motor Agate, Detroit Agate
Drop by drop, each layer represents a different vehicle as it passed through the paint booth in the factory. Heated to hundreds of degrees, the layers fused together to form one of the most beautiful and completely accidental man-made composites.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the Ford Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri. The plant opened in 1951 and since 1957 the 4,700,000-square-foot facility has been home to ten generations of F-Series Pickup Truck production as well as many other vehicles.
24. The Beatles (Cavern Club Brick)
"The Cavern... Do I have memories of the Cavern? Do I? Oh yeah." ~ Paul McCartney
Before The Beatles played for millions of viewers on The Ed Sullivan Show, the Lads from Liverpool put in thousands hours in clubs and lounges across the UK, Germany, Sweden, and France. Yet few venues can be so closely associated with earliest days of the Beatles as the original Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.
From 1961 to 1963, the Fab Four played 292 shows in the Cavern Club.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, TOTAL BEATLES PERFORMANCES AT THE CAVERN CLUB: 292
This is where they first met manager Brian Epstein, who came to nearly all of their shows for three weeks straight. It was also the location of their famous 1962 Welcome Home concert when the band returned from their final residency in Hamburg, and the frenzy that would become Beatlemania was first put on display. Ringo Starr also made his public debut here with the band just two months later, and before the year was out the group shared the stage with the legendary Little Richard.
The club was demolished in 1973, but the bricks were saved. In 1983, a selection were auctioned for charity and the remaining bricks were used in the rebuilding of the Cavern Club on the original site. The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from one of those original bricks, purchased at auction.
25. SR-71 Blackbird
"Nothing had prepared me to fly that fast… My God, even now, I get goose bumps remembering." ~ Air Force Colonel Jim Wadkins
The SR-71 was built for speed and stealth. Setting records as the world's fastest manned aircraft, the SR-71 easily cruised at more than three time the speed of sound. For those lucky few who were able to fly the SR-71, the experience turned out to be something also quasi-religious.
Viktor Belenko, a Soviet MiG pilot who defected in 1976 wrote, "They taunted and toyed with the MiG-25s sent up to intercept them, scooting up to altitudes we could not reach, and circling leisurely above them or dashing off at speeds we could not match."
HUMAN ARTIFACT, TOP PUBLISHED SPEED: 1,905.81 knots (2,193.2 mph; 3,529.6 km/h), approximately Mach 3.3, TOP ACKNOWLEDGED ALTITUDE: 85,069 ft (25,929 m)
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment of a "turkey feather" from SR-71 61-7972. It was purchased from Daniel Freeman, Supervisor and Chief of Metals Technology for the 9th Reconnaissance Wing I.
The turkey feathers are overlapping flaps which surrounded the exhaust of the SR-71. Opening and closing according to the pressure output of the afterburner, they are considered one of the hardest working parts of the aircraft.
SR-71 61-7972 was retired in 1990 and is currently on display in the Smithsonian's Air & Space collection at the Udvar-Hazy Center just outside Washington, D.C. During the delivery flight from Los Angeles, the aircraft flew coast to coast in just 67 minutes.
26. Pelé's Soccer Ball
"I close my eyes, and I can still see my first soccer ball." ~ Pelé
Like many Brazilians, Edson Arantes do Nascimento has been known by many names. He was called "Dico" by his family and "Gasolina" because he was so fast, but the one name that really stuck was Pelé. The name Pelé has no actual meaning in Portuguese, but the life of the greatest soccer player of all time has been anything but meaningless.
Following the incredible early success of winning the 1958 World Cup, Pelé went on to score 1283 career goals and played on two more winning World Cup teams (1962, 1970).
HUMAN ARTIFACT, WORLD CUP MATCHES: 91, WORLD CUP GOALS: 77 , WORLD CUP VICTORIES : 1958, 1962, 1970
Those who met him on the field used words like "flawless" and "magical", sowing seeds for the legend that would lead to yet another nickname - "The King".
Since retiring from play, Pelé has travelled the world promoting soccer and serving as an inspiration for million of people. His lasting legacy is one of peace and sportsmanship. To give some sense of his impact it seems fitting to share the words of Nelson Mandela who presented Pelé with the very first Laureus World Sports lifetime achievement award in 2000.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a vintage leather football owned by Pelé and acquired by auction in London, England in 2016. This personal auction was the most lucrative sale of football memorabilia in history.
27. Charles & Diana's Wedding Cake
"Only do what your heart tells you." ~ Princess Diana
The marriage of HRH Charles Windsor, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer was an international sensation. Watched by an estimated 750,000,000 people around the world.
Yet what seemed to the world like a beautiful story would become much more complicated as the years passed. Despite the birth of their two sons, Princes William and Henry ("Harry"), intense media pressure and infidelity drove the couple apart.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, MARRIED: July 29th, 1981, DIVORCED: August 28th, 1996
Charles and Diana divorced on August 28th, 1996. Just one year later, on August 31st, 1997, Lady Diana died in a car crash while fleeing the paparazzi in Paris. On September 6th, 1997, more than 2,500,000,000 people watched the funeral held at Westminster Abbey. Diana was just 36 years-old.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a piece of the royal wedding cake, a traditional fruit cake with cream cheese frosting. The layers of the official cake took 14 weeks to prepare including an identical twin held in emergency reserve. For display, each cake was sliced and placed into individual monogrammed boxes. These prepared slices were then placed into larger, hand-painted boxes and finished with sugar paste icing to form the decorated layers of the cake.
28. Steve Jobs Turtleneck
"I want to put a ding in the universe." ~ Steve Jobs
Beginning life as the adopted son of working-class parents, Steven Paul Jobs rose to the height of global business. His companies revolutionized several different industries and his countercultural vision reshaped much of the modern technological world.
But Steve himself said he was very fortunate to come of age at a time when the computer industry was very young...
HUMAN ARTIFACT, BORN: February 24th, 1955, DIED: October 5th, 2011
"There weren't many degrees offered in computer science, so people in computers were brilliant people from mathematics, physics, music, zoology, whatever. They loved it, and no one was really in it for the money..."
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a swatch of fabric from a black mock turtleneck owned by Steve Jobs. One of the earliest examples of what would eventually become Steve's trademark style, this turtleneck was worn by Steve at the 1991 PC Forum gathering. The turtleneck was sold by his personal assistant and purchased at a public auction.
29. Space Station Mir (Cosmonaut Food)
"Looking into the station I could see a lone ray of light shining through the port widow and outlining the dining table. We had left some food out for dinner. It was the only time during my stay in space that Mir looked warm, inviting, and spacious. It reminded me of opening the door to a summer cottage that been boarded up for the winter, looking inside, and seeing familiar surroundings." ~ Jerry Linenger, NASA Astronaut on his arrival at Mir
Often considered the world's first successful community in space, the space station Mir (Мир) operated in low earth orbit from February 20th, 1986 until final reentry on March 23rd, 2001.
HUMAN ARTIFACT, Launch: February 20th, 1986, REENTRY: March 23rd, 2001
Mir represented the next evolution in a long line of Soviet space stations. Like those previous space stations, Mir provided a platform for a wide range of experimentation focused on the permanent human habitation of space. The long-term success of Mir speaks to the reliability of the technology developed during the Salyut program, which is still at work today, serving as the life-support core of the current International Space Station (ISS).
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a selection of mission flown food prepared for the space station Mir. The menu includes items from both Roscosmos and NASA, including pork goulash, sausage, bread rolls, rice, tinned salmon, and hot cocoa. Each Mini Museum contains a "complete meal", with two dishes (carbohydrate and protein) along with a serving of hot cocoa.