Friday, July 25, 2014

Ocean Jasper Close Ups

When I went to the Quartzite show last January, I was able to purchase a few flats of Ocean Jasper specimens.  The couple who was selling them bought more than a ton of rough Ocean Jasper right after it was discovered.  They sat on their supply until recently.  Since they have their own crushers and large tumble bins -- they are set up to process and polish rough like no one else I know.  I believe their tumble bins are 100 gallons each.

So last night I pulled out my USB microscope camera and snapped a few photos.

In the first specimen below, notice some of the iris effect (bright colors).

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hubble's Search for Planets with Water

For today's blog posting I decided to check in with the Hubble Mission to see what is new.  Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have gone looking for water vapor in the atmospheres of three planets orbiting stars similar to the Sun — and have come up nearly dry. The planets spectroscopically surveyed have only one-tenth to one one-thousandth the amount of water predicted by standard planet-formation theories.


The above illustration shows what scientists believe the gas giant planet HD 209458b (unofficially named Osiris) looks like.  The solar system in which this planet is located is 150 light-years away in the constellation Pegasus. This is a "hot Jupiter" class planet. Estimated to be 220 times the mass of Earth. The planet's atmosphere is a seething 2,150 degrees Fahrenheit. It orbits very closely to its bright sun like star, and the orbit is tilted edge-on to Earth. This makes the planet an ideal candidate for the Hubble Space Telescope to be used to make precise measurements of the chemical composition of the giant's atmosphere as starlight filters though it. To the surprise of astronomers, they have found much less water vapor in the atmosphere than standard planet-formation models predict. Since water is a necessary prerequisite for life as we know it,.the search for water-bearing terrestrial worlds may be more challenging than thought. Scientists may have to revisit their theories of planet formation.

This graph compares observations with modeled infrared spectra of three hot-Jupiter-class exoplanets that were spectroscopically observed with the Hubble Space Telescope. The red curve in each case is the best-fit model spectrum for the detection of water vapor absorption in the planetary atmosphere. The blue circles and error bars show the processed and analyzed data from Hubble's spectroscopic observations.

NASA, ESA, N. Madhusudhan (University of Cambridge), and A. Feild and G. Bacon (STScI)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Yooper Wood Pile and Lake Superior Sunset

My friend, Jamey, is helping me out to prepare for next winter in a couple of different ways.  First of all, I am buying a wood stove from him.  My wood stove is inefficient and has done its time.  Secondly, he had logs delivered yesterday which he will cut up and stack.

Last night toward the end of my museum hours, one of the brothers of Ann Arbor friends stopped by to visit.  Tim is on a tour of the Upper Peninsula for the first time after living in working overseas for many years.  Our first stop:  the log slide.

Then we drove over to the Hurricane River for sunset.  It felt much more like an October evening than it did July.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Moose Lake Agate Days

All of you blog followers will be happy to know that I did not fall off the cliff.  I have just not had the time to execute on blog posting this past week and a half.  Prior to the Moose Lake show I was busy with every extra second making product for the show.  It was hard to find enough time since I am in the museum more than 50 hours a week.  But I did get everything done and left for Moose Lake last Thursday.

The last night home we had a great sunset.  I wish I would have had time to get photos from the shoreline.  The low level fog just lit up!

My booth at the Moose Lake, MN agate show is in the corner of the gym.

My booth....

The view from my chair early on Sunday morning.  If I would have taken this same photo on Saturday, there would have been a sea of humanity.  Saturday was nuts.

I briefly walked around to get a few photos.  My first stop:  Ana de la Santos's Argentina agate booth.

A few of the tailgate booths in the parking lot.

Scott Wolter in his booth.  He is the host of the America Unearthed TV show that airs on H2.

My friend, Sharon Smith, in her booth.

Brian Costigan in his booth.  I will post some photos tomorrow of the Jequitinhonha Agates that I purchased from Brian.  Those of you who have been to the Gitche Gumee museum may be familiar with the "plate tectonic" agate that I purchased from Brian.  Over the last four years, I have sold a couple hundred of the specimens that I have bought from him as well.  Brian had 12 small to medium agates for sale, as well as three large ones (33, 33, and 21 pounds).  I bought them all and have them for sale at the museum.  Other than a few specimens that he has for sale in his EBay store -- he has no more left from this amazing collection.  These agates were naturally polished by the African diamond dust deposited in the Jequitinhonha River, proving that South America and Africa were once connected as part of the super continent, Pangea.  

One guy came by my booth and showed me an agate that his sister found many years ago.  It is a sentimental family agate.

With the product I brought to sell at the show, my car was already full.  Since I purchased six pails of Lake Superior agate (200 pounds) as well as two large totes of the Jequitinhonha agates -- it was a challenge to get it all in my car to get home.  Since I sleep in my car, it was especially difficult.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bear Coat

Thanks to Claudia Wyrick for sending me photos of me wearing the bear coat in the July 4th parade.  As many of you know, the museum founder, Axel Niemi, wore the coat in the parade every year.  The coat was made over 100 years ago and for a time was owned by the U.S. Postal Service.  When the railroad was shut down in 1910 and the tracks were all removed by 1914, the only way the town of Grand Marais was able to get mail was for a postal service employee to dogsled to Seney.  He wore the coat to stay warm on the 25 mile journey.  Last year, Sandy Neely donated the bear mittens back to the museum.  Apparently her late friend, Jim Becker, had acquired them from Axel several decades ago.  I promised Sandy that I would wear the coat and gloves in the parade this year.  Thankfully, it was not too hot.

I passed out dinosaur buttons to the kids during the parade.

The mittens....

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nice Local Agate Find

Yesterday a visitor from Lafayette, Indiana came into the Gitche Gumee agate with a half pound Lake Superior agate.  Since it was scuffed up she asked me to face polish the specimen.

The lucky agate finder is Rachael Fidler.  Nice agate.

First, a photo of the dry rough agate.

Photos of the rough specimen wet....

Photos of the agate after I face polished it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Difference between a rabbit and a hare

When I was driving back from east of town the other night with friends, Jamey and Lois, we saw a snowshoe hare.  Our sighting led to a discussion about the difference between a rabbit and a hare.  We decided that I should research the subject and post the information on this blog.

I must admit that before doing this research, I did not know the difference between these two animals.  I have always thought that they are the same genus:  they are not.  I always figured that their behavior, life cycle, and diet are the same:  they are not. 



The Differences

Rabbit -- Rabbits in the family Leporidae and include eight different genus
Hare -- Hares are also in the family Leporidae belonging to the genus Lepus.

Rabbit -- Kittens are born hairless, blind, and completely helpless.
Hare --   Leverets are are born fully furred and can be independent within an hour of birth.

Rabbit kitten

Hare leveret
Hares are larger than rabbits have longer hind legs as well as longer ears.  The skulls of rabbits and hares are also different.

The fur coat of rabbits stays the same color throughout the year.  The hare's coat, on the other hand, changes color from grayish brown in summer to white in winter.

Rabbits eat soft stems, grass, and vegetables.  Hares eat harder plant components such as bark, rind, buds, and small twigs. 

Rabbits live in burrows or tunnels and stay underground during the day to protect themselves and their kittens.  Hares live in simple nests on the ground's surface among foliage and escape enemies by running.

Social Arrangement
Rabbits are very social animals and live in colonies with males who fight to dominate the colony.  Hares are solitary creatures that pair off to mate.  The males do not fight for dominance.

Rabbits have been domesticated and are also used as a food source for humans.  Hares have not been domesticated and are used less as a food source.

Rabbits live 9-12 years.  Hares live 4-5 years.

Additional Information

  • The Jackrabbit is actually a hare.
  • Rabbit's eyes are positioned on the sides, so they can effectively see larger areas. In fact, rabbits can see behind them without turning their heads.
  • Rabbit's eyes remain black when reflecting a bright light. In comparison human eyes appear red, cats and dogs - green, and deer eyes turn orange. 
  • A male rabbit is called a buck, a female - a doe. 
  • Both rabbits and hares breed prolifically, bearing four to eight litters each year.
  • A litter of rabbits generally has three to eight young. They have a gestation period of about a month, are sexually mature in about six months.
  •  Hares can run up to 64 km/h (40 mph), and can leap up to 3m (ten feet) at a time.