Samstag, 29. November 2008


Introduction in form of a story by the Seneca-Indians (Toronto, Canada):

"Once, an orphan, living by his aunt, was hunting in the forest. Deep in the forest, after have hunted some birds, he decided to take a rest. Sitting on a large stone, he suddenly heard a voice. “Do you want to hear a story?” The young man looked up, and wondered, because nobody was there. “Do you want to hear a story?” repeated the voice. Then the young man realized that the voice was coming from the stone, where he was sitting on. “What are stories?” questioned the man. “Stories happened long time ago, my stories are like stars, they never fade away.” And then the stone narrated one story after another, until the sun reached the horizon. ”Enough for today, come tomorrow, and take with you the other people of your village.” The next day, they came, and again the stone narrated stories until sunset.” This are all my stories, remember them, and tell them to your children, so they can tell them to their children and so on.”
So all stories of humankind came in being. "

During the european Renaissance (14th to the 17th century) kings and regnants, but also artistocrats, rich merchants and mens of science collected curiosities, comprending fossils, minerals, religious or historical artefacts, antiquities, stuffed animals or at least parts of them, and displayed them in “Cabinets of curiosities/wonders” (from the german term Wunderkammer).
One of the first of these cabinets of curiosities was assembled by Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor (ruled 1576-1612) in Prague, mostly for representative purpose. The earliest picture of a cabinet of this kind is the engraving in Ferrante Imperato's (1550- 1625)“Dell'Historia Naturale - From the natural history*”, published in Naples in 1599, presenting the apothecary´s museum.
The picture shows a room, where every part is filled with stuff of all kind, the ceiling is occupied with preserved fishes, stuffed mammals and curious shells, with – as highlight- a stuffed crocodile suspended in the centre. Examples of corals stand on the bookcases. At the left, shelves filled with mineral specimens. Above them, stuffed birds stand against panels inlaid with square polished stone samples. Below them, a range of cupboards with boxes and covered jars - containing presumably animal or plant specimen.
On the right, shelves with books - lots of books- notable in the upper part herbars, with some plants protruding from the pages. In the front, the proud owner of all this wonders is explaining to a curious visitor.

Cabinets of curiosities, Imperato,Ferrantio (Naples, Italy - 1599). (wikipedia)

Two of the most famously described 17th century cabinets were those of the Danish physician Ole Worm (latinized Olaus Wormius 1588-1654) and the German Jesuit Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680). These cabinets were filled with preserved animals, horns, tusks, skeletons, minerals, as well as man-made objects like sculptures, mechanic automats, ethnographic specimens and even mythical creatures. Worm's collection contained, for example, what he thought was a Scythian Lamb, a woolly fern thought to be a plant/sheep fabulous creature native of Asia.

"Musei Wormiani Historia", the frontispiece from the Museum Wormianum depicting Ole Worm's (Germany)cabinet of curiosities. (wikipedia)

In 1584 Giovanni Battista Olivi described from a more scientific point of view the fish-fossils from Bolca (a small town in the vicinity of Verona)– one of the most important lagerstätten for Eocene marine fossils - displayed in the cabinet of curiosities of the veronese apothecary Francesco Calceolari.

Museum Calceolarianum in Verona (Italy) 1622, incision by G. Viscardi, rappresenting the cabinet of curiosities of the veronese apothecary Francesco Calceolari.

Eoplatax papilio, one of the most remarkable fish fossils discovered in the sediments of Bolca.

In 1796-1808 the priest Giovanni Serafino Volta published a voluminous monograph work about the rich collection of fossils from Bolca by the aristocrat Giovan Battista Gazola.

The cabinet of curiosities of the veronese aristocrat Gian Battista Gazola in the late 18th century, displaying the fossils of Bolca.

The juxtaposition of such disparate objects encouraged comparisons, finding analogies and parallels and favored the cultural change from a world viewed as static to a dynamic view of endlessly transforming natural history and a historical perspective that led in the seventeenth century to the germs of a scientific view of reality. The most “Cabinets of curiosities” can seen as the first steps to modern museums.

Paranguilla tigrina, one of the first known fossil eels.

Justitia desmaresti.

The actual modern Museum of Natural History of South Tyrol, located in Bozen – Bolzano, has also its first beginnings in the rich collection of curiosities by the amateur naturalist Georg Gasser (1857-1931). Artist and painter, he dedicated his life to the collection of minerals (2000 specimens), petrefacts (5000 specimens), shells (2000 specimens), stuffed animals or their skeletons, but also ethnographic artefacts of all kind. In 1905 he moved his private collection to the new founded city-museum of Bozen, where it was displayed, after some troubles, until 1934. Unfortunately, during the year 1931 the upcoming political system closed the museum, and Gasser died literally by “broken heart” (he suffered a heart attack after the announcement). In the following years parts of the collection was sold, or got lost.
Only in 1997, after the acquirements of the rest of Gassers collection, a new museum was founded, to revive the old concept - and even if the modern collection doesn’t display a stuffed crocodile - this small museum is worth to wonder about all this "stories" that man has and will collect…

Gasser´s private collection ca. 1900.

The salt-water aquarium in the museum.

Fotos taken in a special exhibit of the Natural History Museum of Bozen (South Tyrol, Italy).

*Imperato,Ferrantio (1599) : Dell'historia naturale di Ferrante Imperato napolitano Libri XXVIII. Nella quale ordinatamente si tratta della diversa condition di miniere, e pietre. Con alcune historie di piante et animali; sin hora non date in luce.

Freitag, 21. November 2008

I think...

"The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters."

Seems to my highly illogical.

The website analyzer can be found here, and the initiator here. Don´t take it to seriously...

Montag, 17. November 2008

Ice is the enemy...

Al Gore and Hollywood leading an international conspiracy against our economy, our family, our humanity progress and my cat - no, not (only) by producing bad movies, but telling us fiction (in a movie, how dare they)!!
The worldwide economy crisis has only one reason: I drive only one car, I live only in one house in one city with one family and one cat– and so I don’t pollute and consume enough on one planet, shame on me …

Ice is still evil...

Samstag, 15. November 2008

Volcano-Ice Interactions

A lahar is a general term for a type of rapidly flowing mudflow / landslide composed of an water-satured (at least 40-80 weigth% ) mixture of volcanic deposits. The term 'lahar' originated in the Javanese language of Indonesia, meaning “wave”.

Lahars can have four main causes:

-Snow and glaciers can be melted during an volcanic eruption
-(Crater-)Lakes breakout, triggered by collapse of natural dams (lava flows, ash deposits etc.)
-Heavy rainfall, caused by precipitation from eruption cloud
-General remobilizing of volcanic deposits without implications of eruptions

Considering mainly the first category –two main premises have to be considered. The volcano, if he is not located in the Arctic or Antarctic realm, must be high enough to possess a snow cover or enable glacier formation, and he must be active in historic times.
Several mountains in the world, including Mount Rainier, Mount Shasta and formerly Mount St. Helens in the Cascadian Range, Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand, Popocatepetl in central Mexico, different Volcanoes in the Andes (like Nevado del Ruiz) are considered particularly dangerous due to the risk of lahars.

The lahars from the Nevado del Ruiz (5.321m a.s.l.) eruption in Colombia in 1985 caused the Armero tragedy (13.11.), which killed an estimated 23.000 when the city of Armero was buried under 5 metres of mud and debris. Pyroclastic flows melted ice and snow at the summit, forming four thick lahars that rushed down several river valleys. Historic lahar-events date back to the 16th century.

Popocatepetl volcano (5450m a.s.l.) is probably the most active volcano in central Mexico, and threatens more than 40 million people livingin the Mexico City area. The principal danger is rappresented by laharic events, that following the main river, can reach zones distant up to 15km from the volcano. The Ventorillo Glacier, located on the northern flank of the volcano, is the main source of meltwater during eruptions. Popocatepetl got active after 50 years of quiescence in 1994, and on 31. June 1997 a lahar with an estimated volume of 1x10^7m^3 formed from the tongue of the glacier and deposited 3.3x10^5 m^3 of material in the circumstandig river valleys.

Mount Ruapehu, or just Ruapehu (consisting of three major peaks Tahurangi, 2.797m, Te Heuheu, 2.755 m and Paretetaitonga 2.751 m), is the largest active stratovolcano at the southern end of the Taupo Volcanic Zone in New Zealand. The North Island's major skifields and only glaciers are on its slopes.
In recorded history, major eruptions have been about 50 years apart, in 1895, 1945 and 1995-1996. Minor eruptions are frequent, with at least 60 since 1945. Some of the minor eruptions in the 1970s generated small ash falls and lahars that damaged ski fields.

Between major eruptions, a crater lake, damned by volcanic ash and rocks, forms, fed by melting snow. The collapse of this natural dam, blocking the outlet of Mount Ruapehu´s crater lake, caused in the past (and presumably will cause in the future) catastrophic lahars.

Fresh lahar channels scar Ruapehu's eastern slopes (27.03.2007, wikipedia)

December 24., 1953, a lahar destroyed the Tangiwai rail bridge, causing the derailment of a train, and the dead of 151 of the 285 people aboard the train- the worst train accident in New Zealand. Until then, the danger of lahars was underestimated in the public view, and only after the tragedy a monitoring program was installed on the volcano.
The eruption in 1995 closed the ski season for that year and was followed by some more eruptions in 1996. During March 18., 2007 a lahar, with estimated 1.4 million cubic metres of mud and rocks, was documented by a film crew.

Donnerstag, 13. November 2008

Wild animal meme

Walking with beasts...

we have many
and 0 legs:

Crab spider on orchid, waiting for prey:

(remembers me a movie...)

Ash: You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.

Lambert: You admire it.

Ash: I admire its purity. A survivor... unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.

Samstag, 8. November 2008

Ice, cows and the creation of the world

A geologist – so the preconception- normally doesn’t deal with “things that are still alive”. But the actual (geosphere-) animals in the field meme shows that geologist, like Bryan, Life-long Scholar, Dinochick and Silver Fox appreciate the company and spotting of animals during fieldwork.
And even if some claims that cows want to take over the world (Geotripper), we have to accept that cows are in fact responsible (in part) for it’s beginning and live on earth (so the ancient vikings tell):

“In the beginning there was Ginnungagap – the nothing with no bottom. In the south it was confined by Muspelheim, the land of eternal burning fire, in the north laid Nebelheim, an eternally frozen, desolate land. Located in the center of Nebelheim there was a poisoned spring, feeding eleven poisoned rivers. In the eternal darkness and coldness of Nebelheim, the water immediately froze to ice, so that the ice could reach far up to the border of Ginnungagap. Even the poisoned vapour, emanating from the dead rivers, froze to icicles. No live could exist here.

In the heat from Muspelheim, no live could exist ether, it would burn immediately. But between these two hells, warm winds transported some sparks on the frozen water, and melted some ice.
The water flowed between the two lands, and was garnered in Ginnungagap.

From the ice emerged Audhumla (the "milk rich"), the cosmic cow. Finding nothing to grazing, because still grass wasn’t´ created, she began licking the salty ice. Licking the ice there emerged Ymir, the first giant – even if some tell that Ymir was there before Audhumla, but in this case he had to suffer famine, because only with the appearance of Audhumla he could finally drink some fresh milk.

But in every case, licking and licking for three days, from the ice emerged Buri – the first god. His son Bör wedded Bestla, the daughter of a giant, and from this relationship three sons were born: Odin, Vili and Ve. They finally killed the giant Ymir, and from his corpse they created the world, mountains, the sea, humankind, and grass, so that Audhumla and her descendants could finally graze."

Mittwoch, 5. November 2008

Hyperdisease extinction

The extinction (and extinction of species in general) of the mammoths, and a large amount of different species of the Pleistocene megafauna, is one of the most puzzling paleomysteries. Climate change, human overkill and last, but not least, a meteor were blamed to have wiped out the large mammals at the end of the ice age.
New studies now propose (or sustain) an ulterior hypothesis, a hyperdisease to explain the extinction of two endemic rat species.
In 1899 the cargo vessel "S.S. Hindustan" landed on the small Christmas island (island between Australia and Indonesia), and with the ship the black rat (Rattus rattus), and his fleas, came on land. The fleas infected the endemic species of rats (the Bulldog Rat Rattus nativitatis and Maclari`s Rat -Rattus macleari) with a new parasite, Trypanosoma lewisi. In 1908 the two species were declared extinct.
Researchers of the Norfolk University (Virginia) now have provided the evidence that a high infection (at least one third) rate between the native population caused a high mortality, and in the end the extinction of the two species. It’s the first time that research connects an extinction event between mammals with a particular disease or pathogen. In general it was assumed that a infection can not cause complete extinction, because normally a growing resistivety to the pathogen develops in the population, or the diminishing number of individuals prevents further spread of the disease.
The study maybe give new support to a controversial hypothesis to explain the Pleistocene extinction event.
A disease (in this case tuberculosis, spread by the first humans) was argued by some researchers to have caused the extinction of the Mammoth.

Dienstag, 4. November 2008

Clonig mice and mammoths..

How you get from this...

to this?
By cool science...

Cloning animals by nuclear transfer provides an opportunity to preserve endangered mammalian species. However, it has been suggested that the “resurrection” of frozen extinct species (such as the woolly mammoth) is impracticable, as no live cells are available, and the genomic material that remains is inevitably degraded. Here we report production of cloned mice from bodies kept frozen at −20 °C for up to 16 years without any cryoprotection. As all of the cells were ruptured after thawing, we used a modified cloning method and examined nuclei from several organs for use in nuclear transfer attempts. Using brain nuclei as nuclear donors, we established embryonic stem cell lines from the cloned embryos. Healthy cloned mice were then produced from these nuclear transferred embryonic stem cells by serial nuclear transfer. Thus, nuclear transfer techniques could be used to “resurrect” animals or maintain valuable genomic stocks from tissues frozen for prolonged periods without any cryopreservation.

Montag, 3. November 2008

45th Munich Mineral Show

Some impressions from 45th Munich Mineral Show

Megaloceros giganteus - the irish or giant elk, facsimile and ...

original skull, river Rhine, Germany.

Mammoths, Bison, Deer, Bear and Horse, mainly Russia

Smoky Quartz, Alps. The romans know that this mineral could be found in the mountains, and believed that this was ice so deeply frozen, that no fire could ever melt it.

Many where the treasure that man searched and extracted in the mountains (like in the Hohe Tauern regions, Austrian Alps), crystals, gems and the the most elusive of all…

GOLD !!! , here a specimen of a new discovered gold vein (August 2008), from the Aosta valley (Border Swiss-Italy). A difficult, and dangerous search...

The time has run down.