Specimen Notes

Select Articles and Essays from the Mini Museum Companion Guide

The Currents of Migration: An Essay on Human Migration in History

The Currents of Migration: An Essay on Human Migration in History

As we’ve followed the progression of life across billions of years of history, we’ve come across many examples of the importance of migration and its central role in the diversity of life on Earth. From the Woolly Mammoth’s vast metropolitan population spread across the steppe, to the rise and fall of thousands of species of tiny foraminifera in the ocean, each of these stories plays out on a grand scale that often encompasses hundreds of thousands of years. On this scale, small changes to these patterns of movement can have dramatic effects resulting in the emergence of new species and the extinction of the old. [more]

We are Made of Starstuff: Extraterrestrial Amino Acids

We are Made of Starstuff: Extraterrestrial Amino Acids

Each year nearly 40,000,000 kilograms (88.1 million pounds) of meteoritic material rains down on the Earth from outer space. Less than 1% of these falls holds traces of organic compounds, and within this tiny subset scientists sometimes come across even rarer material: amino acids. [more]

SR-71 Blackbird: The World's Fastest Manned Airplane

SR-71 Blackbird: The World's Fastest Manned Airplane

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 times the speed of sound. The spy plane was also the highest-flying manned aircraft, soaring to over 85K feet (26K meters). Development of this incredible aircraft required rethinking every aspect of aeronautical design. In fact, an entire industry grew up around the program as nearly every component was custom made, from the titanium alloy skin to the fuel the huge engines consumed. [more]

A Slice of Royal History: The Wedding Cake of Prince Charles & Princess Diana

A Slice of Royal History: The Wedding Cake of Prince Charles & 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 on July 29th, 1981, the wedding was the culmination of a fairy-tale in which an assistant kindergarten teacher became a princess overnight. [more]

Blade of the Samurai: The Samuari Sword Specimen

Blade of the Samurai: The Samuari Sword Specimen

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. [more]

The Beautiful, Constant Change of Mount Fuji

The Beautiful, Constant Change of Mount Fuji

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. [more]

Astronaut Mix Tape: Do Space Cowboys Ever Sing the Blues?

Astronaut Mix Tape: Do Space Cowboys Ever Sing the Blues?

The unmanned Skylab Space Station launched on May 14, 1973. The program was designed to be NASA’s follow-up to the Apollo missions to the Moon. Unfortunately just sixty seconds after takeoff, problems were detected with the launch. The Micrometeoroid Shield designed to protect Skylab in space deployed early and crushed two of Skylab’s solar panels. [more]

The Surprising Clarity of 28,500,000 Year Old Libyan Desert Glass

The Surprising Clarity of 28,500,000 Year Old Libyan Desert Glass

In the southeastern spur of North Africa’s Great Sand Sea, there are several fields of luminous, yellow-green glass known as Libyan Desert Glass (LDG). Due to the lack of any visible impact crater, the most likely source is a low-density asteroid or comet airburst explosion leading to the fusion of silica-rich sands roughly 28,500,000 years ago. [more]

About the Companion Guide

The essays above come from the Companion Guide to the Mini Museum. The Companion Guide is the full-color book that accompanies each edition of the Mini Museum. The book is a starting point for learning more about the specimens in the collection, details about our process, and additional references so that you can continue exploring on your own.

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