austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Come and love me, be my apeman girl

So the reason we went to the museum is, we got the date wrong for the local mall's Chinese New Year pageant. We were disappointed for that but the Michigan State University Museum was having a Darwin's Birthday event, and offered cake, so that was at least as worth going to. We got in a little late because the worst driver in the world was on the campus roads ahead of us, and took the last of nearly four parking spaces in front of the museum, so we had to find somewhere else on campus to park and for some reason everybody in the world was a the MSU campus on Sunday.

As a special attraction the museum lead tour groups into the working areas, where on weekdays at least researchers actually take examples of animals and do measurements and experiments and all that. For Sunday, there was not so much of that going on and instead finding that they'd agreed to take tour groups of about three times too many people for the spaces around. Granted, many of these pieces aren't the most captivating images; the ones that are, after all, would usually be on display. But they did have a startlingly complete tortoise fossil, as well as the mould used to make a duplicate of it, nice and early on, along with a Galapagos turtle. They also have a lot of fish in ethanol jars for preservation, including what looks like enough to restock the Red Cedar River in case it ever needs to be restocked from ethanol-preserved examples.

There's furthermore many, many, many Library Overstock-styled cases filled with specimens, mostly skeletons and skins based on what they had open. This was more cramped than even usual might be, the guides reported, because they're getting new storage cabinets in and so have to move the exhibits from the old to the new, without losing or breaking more than they can help, without being able to really take cabinets out until the new ones are in and vice-versa, and oh, here's a pack of thirty members of the public Wandering through too. Makes for exciting trips.

The museum is about 150 years old and so has some amazing-looking antiques. One that I doubt anyone else noticed was a ragged (it's by a staircase) French-language dissection portrait of a rat, covered in that dusty film that posters get when they're left up for decades past the point anyone's looked at them.

An imperfectly explained mystery --- bunny_hugger thinks it might be something used for small class groups --- was a blackboard which had written on it various wild mammals of Michigan, in their common and their taxonomic names. At least, most of them had their common names listed. The lone exception was ``the worst animal'', listed beside procyon lotor. There's a story in that line, somewhere.

Trivia: Late 1955 estimates of the communications limitations on a satellite for the International Geophysical Year were that a satellite using the Minitrack system with a 200-mile perigee should have a minimum of eight seconds of telemetering reception per orbit, but that it was possible to increase this to as much as a minute. Source: Project Vanguard: The Nasa History, Constance McLaughlin Green, Milton Lomask. NASA SP-4202.

Currently Reading: Mathematics: From The Birth Of Numbers, Jan Gullberg.

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