Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery, Penn State University

Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery, Penn State University The Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery features science,art, and history exhibits telling the story of the Earth-Human-Atom system.

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FOUND IN COLLECTIONName: Stone Ax (EMS collection, uncataloged)Locality: PennsylvaniaNotes:  Stone tools have not always...
06/01/2020

FOUND IN COLLECTION
Name: Stone Ax (EMS collection, uncataloged)
Locality: Pennsylvania

Notes: Stone tools have not always been recognized as human-made products. In his 1546 book on fossils, the German scientist Georgius Agricola (1494-1555) repeated the then common belief that stone axes fell from the sky during thunderstorms. Now we know that stone tools such as projectile points, scrapers, hammers, and axes can tell us much about how people lived long before written records were made. Because stone tools survive in the environment much longer than woven reed baskets, clothing made from animal skins, and bone awls, they are often our best sources of information about our ancestors’ lives.

It is a mistake to think of stone tools as primitive implements—most stone tools were finely crafted and excellently suited for exploiting natural resources. Making tools from stone is a technology that dates back millions of years and enabled humans to migrate out of Africa and adapt to environments throughout the world.

This grooved stone ax was made at least a thousand years ago by an inhabitant of what is now Pennsylvania. The general shape of the ax was formed by flaking off chunks of rock using a tool made of deer antler. The ax was then smoothed into its symmetrical shape by pecking with another stone. The fine cutting edge was ground by rubbing the ax in wet sand, and then it was polished by rubbing it on a charred log. Once attached to a wooden handle the ax could be used for everything from chopping down trees to making canoes and houses. The biggest limitation of stone tools is that they do not retain sharp cutting edges for long and thus have to be sharpened more frequently than cutting edges made of metal.

This ax is just one of many stone tools found and collected by Charles D. Borland (Penn State class of 1937) a Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering student from Monongahela, Pennsylvania. Upon graduation, Borland gave his collection to the museum where it was exhibited as “the beginnings of the mineral industries” in Pennsylvania.

Selected and written by John E. Simmons
SOURCES: Agricola, Georgius. 1546. De natura fossilium (On the Nature of Fossils), https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/books/book/704/De-Natura-Fossilium-Textbook-of-Mineralogy

Carr, Kurt W., and Roger W. Moeller. 2015. First Pennsylvanians. The Archaeology of Native Americans in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

ART & SCIENCE ON-LINE: Art & Science of Glass features a selection of paintings from the EMS Museum’s Steidle Collection...
05/27/2020

ART & SCIENCE ON-LINE: Art & Science of Glass features a selection of paintings from the EMS Museum’s Steidle Collection of American Industrial Art

GLASS IS:
• a non-crystalline solid which softens gradually when heated, and solidifies gradually when cooled;
• mechanically strong, elastic, resistant to corrosion and thermal shock, heat-absorbing, insulating, and can reflect, bend, transmit, and absorb light;
• used in construction materials, telecommunications, transportation, chemistry, biotechnology, solar energy, space optics, packaging, housewares, lighting, architecture, medicine, nuclear waste disposal, and agriculture.

GLASS CAN BE:
• blown, molded, sculpted, pressed, cut, ground, polished, stretched into fibers, and made into microspheres;
• metallic, semiconducting, organic, and plastic;
• decorative, utilitarian, reused, repurposed, and recycled.

Objects made of glass are the products of sophisticated and interdisciplinary collaborations between art, science, and technology. Common glasses are mixtures of silicon dioxide (sand) and other metal oxides—but there are many different classes and families of glass. The compositions and properties of the glasses are widely and continuously variable. New, innovative uses for glass are always being discovered.

FOUND IN COLLECTIONName: Volcanic pumice (EMS 420807)Locality: Mount St. Helens, near Vancouver, Washington Forty years ...
05/18/2020

FOUND IN COLLECTION
Name: Volcanic pumice (EMS 420807)
Locality: Mount St. Helens, near Vancouver, Washington

Forty years ago, on the morning of May 18, 1980, the Pacific Northwest of the United States was shaken by an earthquake. The earthquake triggered a massive eruption of a volcano named Mount St. Helens. Although the eruption had been anticipated for some time, the geoscientists studying the situation expected to detect warning signals before the event. Instead, the volcano exploded suddenly with a massive pyroclastic flow of magma, dust, and sulfur dioxide that killed 61 people, including several geologists who were working in the area.

The air-fall tephra (the rock fragments and particles ejected by the eruption) that spewed out of the volcano had three main components—pumice, lithic fragments, and ash composed of mineral grains. Volcanic ash can be very destructive because it is abrasive and usually acidic as well. Thirteen hundred feet (400 meters) of the Mount St. Helen’s peak blew out as the mountain partially collapsed. Over the next nine hours, twenty-four square miles of the valley was filled with debris. Most of the air-fall tephra landed in Washington State, Oregon, and Idaho, but some traveled as far east as Minnesota and Oklahoma. Dustings of the volcanic ash were detected as far away as Ohio.

The EMS pumice specimen (EMS 420807) was ejected from the volcano and later collected in Washington state. Pumice consists of vesicular, rough-textured volcanic glass. The specimen was included in a collection of rocks and minerals donated to the EMS Museum by Allen Van Heyl (1918-2008), a 1941 graduate of the School of Mineral Industries (now the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences). Heyl was as an economic geologist at USGS for several decades and published numerous articles and books on economic geology, mineral resources, and structural geology. His extensive geological collections were donated to Penn State, Bryn Mawr College, and others.

We have not been able to identify the collector, “Mr. Lee”.

Mount St. Helens is located in northwestern Skamania County in the Cascade Range of southwestern Washington State, USA (46˚ 12’ 04” North, 122˚ 11” 18” West).

Selected and written by Julianne Snider

Sources: Lipman, P. W. & Mullineaux, D. R. (eds.). 1981. The 1980 Eruptions of Mount St. Helens, Washington. Geological Survey Professional Papers, No. 1250.

http://www.rasloto.com/FM/HEYL.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumice

https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/st_helens/st_helens_gallery_23.html

FOUND IN COLLECTIONName: Bedford Limestone (EMS 413245)Locality: Monroe County, IndianaThe words “2nd piece broken from ...
05/15/2020

FOUND IN COLLECTION
Name: Bedford Limestone (EMS 413245)
Locality: Monroe County, Indiana

The words “2nd piece broken from block of Bedford limestone in carving of ‘Nittany Lion’ shrine 1943. Joe Bedenk, baseball coach, has 1st piece” were written on a paper label and glued to this piece of buff Indiana limestone by C. W. Robinson. Clair W. Robinson was the curator of what was then called the Mineral Industries Museum (1934-1948) and associate professor of geology in the School of Mineral Industries (now the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences).

Bedford limestone, better known as Indiana limestone, is considered a chemically pure stone made up of, on average, 97% calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and 1.2% calcium-magnesium carbonate (CaMg(CO3)2). It is also a freestone—it can be freely cut in any direction without splitting or shattering—a quality ideal for carving the Lion Shrine. Indiana limestone has long been an economically important building material, particularly for monumental public structures including the Empire State building, the National Cathedral, and the Pentagon.

A gift to Penn State from the class of 1940, the Lion Shrine began as a 15-ton block of buff Indiana limestone purchased from the Indiana Limestone Company and transported from a quarry near Bedford, Indiana to the location on Penn State’s University Park campus where the Lion Shrine stands today. Sculptor Heinz Warneke (1895-1983) created a 600 pound, three-times larger than life size, plaster model of a mountain lion. An expert stone carver, Joseph Garatti (1883-1949), was brought in to rough out the sculpture from the limestone block to within a half inch of the size of the plaster model. Garatti began working on the sculpture in June 1942. In mid-August, Warneke then took over for several months of finish carving and polishing. The completed Lion Shrine was dedicated on October 23, 1942.

Garatti and Warneke worked outdoors, in front of an ever-changing audience of Penn State students. Warneke, who was then the head of the sculpture department at the Corcoran School of Art and professor of sculpture at George Washington University, welcomed the students and stressed the importance of observing “the actual carving” of the stone as a path toward the appreciation of art and how art is made.

Selected and written by Julianne Snider

Sources: Indiana Limestone Quarrymen’s Association (1920). Indiana Limestone: The Aristocrat of Building Materials, Volume 1(6), Bedford, Indiana.

The Daily Collegian of the Pennsylvania State College (1941) Volume 38, State College, Pennsylvania
.
The Daily Collegian of the Pennsylvania State College (1942) Volume 39, State College, Pennsylvania.

https://igws.indiana.edu/MineralResources/Limestone

FOUND IN COLLECTIONName: Gneiss (EMS 422561; EMS 411363)Locality: Unknown; Delaware County, PennsylvaniaNotes: Gneiss is...
05/11/2020

FOUND IN COLLECTION
Name: Gneiss (EMS 422561; EMS 411363)
Locality: Unknown; Delaware County, Pennsylvania

Notes: Gneiss is a coarse-grained metamorphic rock that is formed when sedimentary or igneous rocks are exposed to high pressure and temperature (above 320°C). Due to the way gneiss is formed, most specimens have parallel stripes or bands of different colors (called gnessic banding).

Because gneiss doesn’t break along distinct planes it has many industrial applications. Gneiss is crushed for use as a landscaping stone and cut into blocks for building, paving, and curbing. Some types of gneiss are polished and sold as granite for use as tiles and countertops, although gneiss and granite are not the same thing (granite is an igneous rock, not a metamorphic rock, but some types of gneiss contain granite).

Gneiss is largely made up of crystals of feldspar and quartz. While these minerals are quite common, they are nonetheless eye-catching. When a chunk of gneiss is rotated under light the feldspar and quartz produce the glittering effect that gives gneiss its name. The word gneiss (pronounced “neese”) comes from the German “gneist,” meaning spark.

Specimen 52 (EMS 422561) has been used as part of a Science Olympiad tournament. EMS 411363 is cut from a piece of stone collected in 1895 by David Knauer, who acquired stones from across the Commonwealth for the Obelisk, one of Penn State’s oldest landmarks. The Obelisk is located near Old Main on the Penn State campus.

Selected and written by: Haven Diehl
Sources: mindat.org; etymonline.com; geology.com

FOUND IN COLLECTIONName: The Obelisk or The PolylithLocation: Penn State - University ParkThe Obelisk has been a Penn St...
05/05/2020

FOUND IN COLLECTION
Name: The Obelisk or The Polylith
Location: Penn State - University Park

The Obelisk has been a Penn State landmark since its creation in 1890s. It was designed to be: a showcase of the variety and quality of building stones mined in Pennsylvania, a geology teaching tool (as the stones are laid, top-to-bottom, in their proper geological sequence), and be a research experiment to study the relative weathering of building stone – an experiment coming up on its 125th anniversary!

Although the obelisk isn’t formally a part of the EMS Museum & Art Gallery collection, we do have purposefully created hand samples of each of the stones in “The Polylith” – the objects original name.

And it serves an an unofficial “mascot” for the museum, as an able representative of the teaching and research work of all the College’s departments.

Print out and assemble the cut-and-fold version to have a piece of Penn State with you where ever life takes you! (color and b/w versions)

And here is a list of some websites to consult for more about The Obelisk, including its history, geology, experiment, and the prototype of virtual 3D obelisk app:

https://news.psu.edu/story/360525/2015/06/11/campus-life/any-name-obelisk
https://news.psu.edu/gallery/364096/2015/07/29/what-it-its-obelisk
https://sites.psu.edu/obelisk/
https://youtu.be/_FIJRYuMGBs
https://libraries.psu.edu/about/collections/stones-obelisk
https://secureapps.libraries.psu.edu/content/obelisk/

From our colleagues at the HUB-Robeson Galleries!Join together across the world to share something we all experience, sh...
05/04/2020

From our colleagues at the HUB-Robeson Galleries!

Join together across the world to share something we all experience, shadows. This is inspired from ‘Illuminating Illusions’ a virtual exhibition of objects from across the Museum Consortium. Shadows can be created or captured, they often distort or highlight what has created them, some would even call it magic.

We look forward to coming together through this shared experience and will feature posted shadows throughout the week in our stories. Post a photo or video with #PennStateArtChallenge and HUB-Robeson Galleries we will share to our story!

We'll be posting a weekly challenge with different @pennstate partners in the coming weeks! Participate in one or all of our challenges and come together as one Penn State!

#PennStateArtChallenge #artchallengecovid19 #photochallenge #artathome #quarantineart #quarantine #artchallenge #stayhome #contemporaryart #campusartsinitiative #psuarts

FOUND IN COLLECTIONName: Sal ammoniac (EMS 405092)Location: Volcán Paricutín, MexicoNotes: Sal ammoniac is an old name f...
05/02/2020

FOUND IN COLLECTION
Name: Sal ammoniac (EMS 405092)
Location: Volcán Paricutín, Mexico

Notes: Sal ammoniac is an old name for ammonium chloride (NH4Cl), commonly known as rock salt. It forms as colorless, white, or yellow-brown crystals.

Sal ammonia was known to alchemists by least the 13th century and has a long use in alchemical recipes and medical elixers. There is a reference to it (as sal ammoniak) in Chaucer’s “The Chanones Yemannes Tale,” written between 1387 and 1400. The modern word ammonium is a contraction of the Latin sal ammoniac, which in turn was derived from the name of the Egyptian deity Ammon because rock salt was mined near the Temple of Ammon in ancient times.

As alchemy developed into modern chemistry, many more uses were found for sal ammoniac. For example, in 1688 it was recommended as an additive in ethyl alcohol to preserve plant and animal specimens. Ammonium chloride is now used in a wide variety of applications, including dry cell batteries, metal finishes, as a flux for soldering (particularly for making stained glass windows), and in dyeing cotton and tanning leather.

The location for this specimen is incorrectly spelled “Paracutin” on the label, but should be written as Volcán Paricutín. The volcano is near the city of Uruapan in the Mexican state of Michoacán, and is a famous site for volcanologists and tourists alike. The birth of the volcano is very recent—it suddenly erupted out of a cornfield owned by a farmer named Dionisio Pulido in 1943. The volcano’s eruption continued until 1952, when it became dormant. The eruption was the first time that scientists had been able to document the formation of a cinder cone volcano as it occurred. By the time the eruption stopped, the volcano had grown to a height of 424 meters (1,391 feet) and covered 233 square kilometers (90 square miles) with stone, ash, and lava. The photograph shows the volcano in full eruption in 1943.

Selected and written by John E. Simmons
SOURCES:
Photo credit: K. Segerstrom, U.S. Geological Survey, by permission PD-USGov-NOAA, http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/seg/hazard/slideset/30/30_612_slide.shtml

“A Concise Dictionary of Chemistry.” 1990. Oxford University Press

Edwards, J.J. and M. J. Edwards. 1959. “Medical Museum Technology.” Oxford University Press

Pauling, Linus. 1970. General Chemistry. Dover Publications.

Roob, Alexander. 2001.” The Hermetic Museum: Alchemy and Mysticism.” Taschen.

Skeat, Walter W. 1910. “An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language.” Dover Publications

Wikipedia, Parícutin, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Par%C3%ADcutin

ART & SCIENCE ON-LINE: Bee-Hives & By-Products features a selection of paintings depicting coke ovens from the Steidle C...
04/27/2020

ART & SCIENCE ON-LINE: Bee-Hives & By-Products features a selection of paintings depicting coke ovens from the Steidle Collection of American Industrial Art
Coke ovens carbonize coal to produce coke—a clean-burning, high-quality fuel with a high carbon content and few impurities. Volatile hydrocarbons are driven out of the coal during the coking process.

Bee-hive coke ovens are domed chambers made of fire-brick and arranged in rows called batteries. Thousands of these batteries were built across western Pennsylvania’s bituminous coal region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some volatile hydrocarbons from the coal are burned to supply more heat to the coking process, but unburned hydrocarbons are allowed to escape into the atmosphere. The only product of the bee-hive process is the coke.

By-product coke ovens, or retort ovens, are built from fire-brick in long, narrow combustion chambers surrounded by air chambers and flues. The by-product ovens are more expensive to build than bee-hive ovens, but the coking process takes less time and volatile hydrocarbons are converted into industrial by-products including coal tar, ammonia, and phenol.

ART & SCIENCE ON-LINE: Bee-Hives & By-Products features a selection of paintings depicting coke ovens from the Steidle Collection of American Industrial Art
Coke ovens carbonize coal to produce coke—a clean-burning, high-quality fuel with a high carbon content and few impurities. Volatile hydrocarbons are driven out of the coal during the coking process.

Bee-hive coke ovens are domed chambers made of fire-brick and arranged in rows called batteries. Thousands of these batteries were built across western Pennsylvania’s bituminous coal region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some volatile hydrocarbons from the coal are burned to supply more heat to the coking process, but unburned hydrocarbons are allowed to escape into the atmosphere. The only product of the bee-hive process is the coke.

By-product coke ovens, or retort ovens, are built from fire-brick in long, narrow combustion chambers surrounded by air chambers and flues. The by-product ovens are more expensive to build than bee-hive ovens, but the coking process takes less time and volatile hydrocarbons are converted into industrial by-products including coal tar, ammonia, and phenol.

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16802

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