World of the Rockhound; 22
We figure that we are building a collection rate of about 6000 per year already very Your number is exhibit caliber 0 0. 0. 0. 0. The second largest craft hobby in America today is said to be rock candy. With all of its branches of interest some of which are junk cutting making jewelry and the collection of gemstones rocks minerals and fossils. This universal hobby has grown to astonishing proportions in the last 25 years and shows signs of even more rapid growth as the need develops for more people to pursue more leisure time activities. Due to the fact that they are working fewer hours have more days off and get more vacation time.
Rocks and minerals are specimens of extreme importance to the rocket. Most people do not realize the important role rocks and minerals play in everyday living. For example fluorite used in toothpaste and clothing. The series of programs is designed to give an overall picture of the rockhound. Offer encouragement to the newcomer in this hobby. And present information of general interest to everyone. All of this will be examined as we explore the world of the rock. Today's program is entitled. The Smithsonian our nation's finest exhibit. The narrator is Len felt. The nation's finest collection of rocks minerals and gemstones is housed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. A visitor can find most any item of interest Iraq announced here in the Museum of Natural History building. But
even here there is always the problem of not enough space to exhibit all the materials received in today's conversation with Museum specialist Janice White Jr.. Some of the objects seen by the public and not usually seen are discussed. These are materials from all over the world. Collection is primarily a research going. And we devote a large amount of our time to acquiring significant minerals from our world anything we think which is worth preserving when Prato acquire a museum. How do you find out about these things. Well we have a number of professional contacts and we stay with a journal so on and so forth. We have friends all around the world we trade extensively with professional mineralogist same collectors in other parts of the world. We send out research materials to professional mineralogist for them to use in their work and in return we get
much material in exchange from them. Do you have a lot of amateurs who come here with samples of things that they want identified. Yes we get some of that sort of thing and we don't have sufficient staff to devote a lot of time to an intensive investigation of material that can't be readily identified by sight and normally we tell them that we just can't identify that enough of a sample for them. I magine there are lots of other places closer perhaps their local museum who might be able to do that for them. Yes we try to encourage people to make use of local facilities first and then if they don't. They can't seem to get any satisfaction from the university or the States Geological Survey then very often the end up sending the sample here. And if we
feel that this sample was of sufficient interest to justify a little more than routine investigation was undertaken for them. How do you decide what you're going to display and what you're going to keep. In your laboratory. Wow. We. All of us on the staff here have. We started out everyone as a mineral collector and so we have quite a background in appreciating the aesthetic qualities of minerals best and Crystal specimens and we rarely ever disagree on relevant qualities of similar specimens and so that's not a real problem. The problem is finding space for examining all the new material that we get. We're getting quite a number of outstanding specimens all the
time and some exhibit spaces limit and we have to replace specimens now on exhibit with some of the new arrivals. Do you have a regular time for changing this exhibit. No unfortunately this hasn't been done for quite a few years now. However we plan in the not too distant future to undertake a major upgrading of the collection. It's difficult here because there are so many people involved in the exhibit specialists and production people and scripts must be written label silkscreened and there's an awful lot of work involved. So it does not get not often not often enough I'm afraid. Well tell me where we are right now I went through a maze of ways and stairways and elevators to get here. Is this part of the natural history building. Yes this is the Museum of Natural History and that's part of the Smithsonian
Institution of course. And we're in one of the wings that was added to the old building. This one opened about eight years ago and it was in houses that we study collections and the offices of the professionals. Did you get started in Iraq. When you were. Younger. Yes I am I was a mineral collector. Actually my interest started as a result of an R Sciences Program in Ukraine where we had to watch some all mineral collection and my interest in minerals developed and what did you study further I mean in school to. Get all this background that you have now. Oh it requires normally that one majors in geology an underground school which I do that Franklin and Marshall College in
Lancaster Pennsylvania. And then I went on to do graduate work at the university merit so I'm an entirely different geological environments. Very interesting. There is the Smithsonian have any kind of field trips that they sponsor. With a museum itself does not however they are is an organization called the Smithsonian Associates which is a national organization and they advertise membership and they sponsor field trips for the local members however than off and on and I will scale those time. I think there are plans to promote field trips Countrywide. But this may be some time yet the program is developed. The rock islands seem to be so active even as I understand it this hobby of rock collecting is that the fastest growing hobby in the country.
Can you elaborate on that. Well it would seem to be true. We see elements of it all the time we get where we have it. Our new men don't club springing up all the time. The members of the staff are continually being invited to speak at club meetings around the country. And normally it's impossible to. True to do this because there are a number of expenses involved but occasionally for some of the bigger shows one of the members here will supply a couple of lectures and at times we've even taken exhibits from the mineral collections here to be shown at the show. There's also a lot of traffic through your. Mineral collectors many whom obviously are quite new
to the ask people about the hobby. The biggest indication I think of the growth of the hobby is the number of memberships or subscriptions to the popular journals. Would you have any suggestions or hints. To give to new rock and clubs being formed. Well I think they should do everything that they possibly can to try to educate the membership. To the point where they can learn to apply a simple test for the ready and none for occasional common minerals and mineral clubs. I feel I should try to assemble a good representative collection of perhaps 100 or so of the most common minerals and and stress very strongly in developing the members developing the ability to learn to distinguish between these minerals because too often I see
people who claim to be rock counts for years and they still can't tell courts from calcite and I think that's unfortunate. Well tell me how do you have carts from Castle. But that is tomorrow. Are there simple rather simple tests in this case courts. Is known to not possess the property of cleavage as when it's broken with a hammer it doesn't break along smooth flat plains and breaks irregularly so that the fragments are very uneven in shape and very often sharp edged whereas calcite possesses the cleavage property in three directions and so when a piece of calcite is broken the fragments will assume the shape of a rock. That was that word I didn't understand. How do you spell r h o m b.
While the other test CTS is quite hard. And cannot be scratched with a needle or a penknife calcite on the other and may be readily scratched with a needle calcite effervesce as it is it bubbles rigorously with dilute hydrochloric acid. If you place a drop of the acid on calcite it bubble up. And of course it doesn't react at all to any of us and except hydrofluoric which incidentally I wouldn't recommend anyone handling a lesser experience with using acids. Can you tell me something about some of the other tests you used on other. Rocks. You know. Well there are a number of tests but most frequently when we're in doubt about something the cation of a mineral that we are interested in.
We X-ray the sample in this. A rather simple technique and which a small fragment of the sample was powdered and a sample spindle was prepared from the powder and placed in an X-ray camera and in four hours a picture is taken of the X-ray diffraction pattern of the sample and this pattern is characteristic for the mineral. We have a reference collection of patterns so most of the common minerals and so we simply compare the pattern that we get that was unknown species of minerals and see if we can match them up. Of course this is simplified by the has been simplified through the preparation of an index to the positions of the strongest lines on these films that we get so
we have a numerical index of the positions of certain important lines on each pattern. And so we simply refer to the book that contains this information and in most cases we can very readily tell what the mineral is just by its X-ray pattern. This is sometimes referred to as the fingerprint of a mineral. Do you have a place right here where you're doing that right now. Could you show me. Let's go. Into another room to see the x ray diffraction camera and the x ray generator and the Geiger counter. Maybe you heard in the background. This is a matter of simply producing that phrase. Direct from. Through your. Channel through a camera sample on a piece of film.
On the x rays of. Concentric circles produced on film positions or measure nor. Where would you put the manner. Right there we go underneath. The open. I mean this is a camera. That's more like a car doesn't want your. Flaps on. The right. And. Customarily I know are. Going to hear and see some. Samples. This is represents a mineral that has been powdered. And then mixed with from and rolled out into a very delicate fiber. And this fiber is mounted in the center of the camera. Where it. Falls in the path of the X-ray me. And. A
sample. Because of. A fraction of the cost. Fortunately the beam to go off from the sample in different directions and thereby exposing the film. Which is in the form of strips. Show you one of. Them. In the camera. Going about an inch wide. That's right the diffracted. Beams form little arcs on both sides of the well formed concentric arcs. And the positions of these are characteristic of a member along. The arc. And you can look like a. Cutter. If reacting qualities of the mineral. Positions of the Lions depend
on the. Different spacings between atomic layers and. Within different mineral facing different therefore. X-ray beam of refractive or different angles in the positions of the lines on the film. Are then different. When you go to take the picture what do you do something here. How do you make the x ray. No matter. Which focus the x ray beam on the very. You know very fine. Rate of x rays which strike sample. Diffracted but. As we move closer to the x ray florescence analyzer the noise in the background became louder. An instrument. For. Finding out what elements are present in the sample. It's called qualitative
analytical tool because it only tells you what elements are there doesn't tell you how much of each you have. Do you think this takes a counter-example or placed in the top of the instrument. And the next. Is directed on the sample which sample in turn for x rays. And. Different elements present emit. X rays of different wavelengths. And. The wavelength of the X-rays emitted by the different elements characteristic for each element. So this instrument measures the wavelength of the X-rays being generated by the sample. This information can be translated into. And let go. Information and then tell what the composition of the sample is although we can't tell how much different on the.
Right you produce. A pattern. And. Various. Are. Correlated with position. On this. Detector. And when a. Element of a certain. Element was emitting wavelength. X-rays. Of a certain wave line. Than. The geiger counter. Picks up the. Elements a particular setting for that wave produced on the ground. Once you run through the whole spectrum. Of wavelengths of actuary. The graph taken off the positions are determined. And then from that you can tell what produced.
The. Film with lines in the graph where every line on the film will be a. Graph. Simply a different way of. Gathering the X-rays. And. Producing. Unable. To. Determine the. Spacing of the atoms in Mineral. Or. After learning how minerals get their pictures taken or had their finger prints made. We went on to look at a case of extremely colorful minerals and discuss them. Now this is really behind the scenes isn't it the Smithsonian. How this is going to roll exhibit formally how the jade collection. They've been you know been replaced with newer ones and the specimens that you see here are recent acquisitions things that we've acquired
in the last couple of years represent some of the finer crystals best and only a small percentage incidentally of the specimen so that it collections we figure that we are building the collection rate of about 6000 minerals per year. Only very few of that number is exhibit caliber. When I see this really is International here with something I can't even pronounce. Friend what is the name of it. No I mean one of the Baptists. Oh it's right next to it and I am going from San Diego California. And here is copper from. The very thing that's from Russia right in front of something from us Mr. Knight from Cali New Mexico there's a new freshman from me put
mine in North Carolina. Fairfield like this is the finest example of Fairfield life in the world. Here's a case where there is a Mineral County not far from Tennessee that produces finest Crystal specimens of a particular minnow and Fairfield light manganese phosphate from the food glory in North Carolina North Carolina. And I explained some of these other things to me they're beautiful they're also. Transparent run it from the back. They're from Canada and it came out of an asbestos mine whose best was given to the museum by some members of the New York mineral. What is this I want it looks like it has a. Brick fields or something if you know what it looks like it looks like the how of an artichoke. Executives and yeah it goes right to your crystals of a mineral score site which is one of the seal lights and that also is from Brazil.
Quite a lot of the extraordinary minerals buttons that we're getting these days come from Brazil for some reason. They grow them big quite wide. But they're also sparkly. What makes you so ugly. Well you're looking at the faces of crystal. These have not been cut and polished and anyway these are the natural faces. The Crystals have a tendency to. Produce flat. Lustrous faces if they grow. Rough irregular crystals are rare. There are a few exceptions incidentally to my remark that they're not cut and polished this opal from Mexico has been abolished because it was both a massive piece of rock and unpolished. You couldn't appreciate the opal. It would look just like you know going with you can you know how it
was good quality Opal but it wouldn't be an attractive specimen there's no it's been blown by someone who didn't know anything about rocks though wouldn't appreciate that and like it were polished. I don't believe I don't think they'd appreciate many things and. When not do they look just like this when you find them in the mines or on the ground where you find the things that look better. That's not uncommon to read about a collector breaking into a cavity or pocket in a mine or quarry where the. Entire wall the cavity is incrusted with crystals and you describe how. Breathtaking it is when you. Put a light in there or something and get the reflection. You know. The Crystals must be a wonderful sight I haven't seen more than two of them in my lifetime such complete pockets that is. It's impossible nearly impossible to mine on a
pocket so that it remains intact in order to recover the specimens we have to be broken or out of the pocket piece by piece. Normally you end up with a large number of small specimens. Course you try to be very careful not to break any of the crystals because it tracks the volume of the attractiveness of this bus. We looked at the beautiful green specimen a badly looking substance Mr White explained that it was Malakai. That's now a kite and the copper carbonate and I grew in a cavern an open. Space under the ground very much like I wanted stones. It's grown cave today. Only in this case limestone is calcium carbonate this the copper carbonate it's a similar. And more mineral and composition just contains copper and calcium calcium was sort of. An emerald green color. A bluish green.
Grass green dark green really isn't blue but. The color can vary from very low pale green to dark and very often slabs cut through such a growth are banded concentric Lee alternating light and dark green. Would that be found on the ground underneath the ground underneath the ground and this came out. Do they have things like that here in copper. Oh yes. Visible Arizona is one of the most famous you know if you were producing very beautiful specimens many of which we haven't examined. Your best and illustrates the ROM shape that I mentioned earlier. This pink mineral back here wrote across itas a manganese carbonate in the crystal. Is a nearly perfect ROM and it looks like a distorted cube. It's been
pushed over to one side. This mineral in the foreground as you write composition were very similar to Molokai and they almost always bitumen I was almost always occur together. They're both copper carbonate. And almost invariably where you find one you find the other. This happens to come from me or. Was it called because of the blue color. Yes. It's always blue then. This is where you are in Yuma no former night. That's from France a very fine specimen. In the back here you can see some large yellow Crystal saw her from Sicily Italy. Extraordinary offers but that was museum specialist Janice White Jr. discussing some of the minerals and some of the cameras used to take fingerprints of these minerals which are found in the U.S. Museum of Natural History
at the Smithsonian Institution. This has been another in the series of programs exploring the world of the rock out. This series is produced by the service of the public library of Davidson County in Nashville Tennessee. Next we will discuss the fascinating aspects of this hobby in a program entitled Looking to the future. This is Charles Mitchell.
- World of the Rockhound
- Episode Number
- Producing Organization
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- World of the Rockhound is a twenty-four part program about rock collecting produced by WPLN, the service of the public library of Nashville and Davidson County, and Nashville, Tennessee. Episodes focus on topics specific to rock hounding, like collecting, cutting, displaying, and creating artwork from rocks, gemstones, and fossils. The program also discusses broader topics related to geology, like earth science, consumer interests, and professional uses of rocks and minerals.
- Media type
Producing Organization: WPLN
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-42-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “World of the Rockhound; 22,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 26, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-gx44vt8h.
- MLA: “World of the Rockhound; 22.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 26, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-gx44vt8h>.
- APA: World of the Rockhound; 22. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-gx44vt8h