Shipping Delay, Protecting Mini Museums, Earliest Life, Laniakea: Our Home Supercluster
Thank you all for the kind words after the last update. It really means a lot to me and the whole mini museum team. Unfortunately, as the subject indicates, I have to announce another delay.
A minor issue came up when printing the companion guides. This held us up a few days and we missed our shipping window. The corrected companion guides have arrived, but now Typhoon Kalmaegi is bearing down and we are uncertain about the next window.
Please know that we working through a variety of options to get mini museums to all of the backers as soon (and safely) as possible. I am also staying here in China to personally oversee this part of the process. I will share details as soon as possible, including information about the Touch mini museums.
Protecting Mini Museums
On the subject of safety, I want to share the ways we are protecting your mini museums before their journey. Let's begin by going back to the polishing stage of the assembly process. This is the last stage before we begin packaging:
A row of polished mini museums is a little mesmerizing. This is the first and last time these Large mini museums will be lined up like this, because after polishing, every mini museum receives a complete protective film covering:
After the protective film covering is in place, each mini museum is placed inside a bubble wrap bag, which is slipped into the custom microfiber pouch:
The mini museum then goes into the custom made box. The box itself is reinforced on the inside with die cut foam inserts for further protection:
The box lid is secured (it's a snug fit), and the batch number is noted in a special area on the side of the box. As you can see below, this information will be helpful later when we begin preparing final shipments. :)
Earliest Life: Strelley Pool Stromatolite
Since the last moments of a project are often what one remembers best, I thought I might go back and share some details about the preparation of one of the first specimens I worked on: the Strelley Pool Stromatolite.
Stromatolites form in tidal areas when sediment gets trapped in microbial mats. The process repeats over and over producing successive layers. The resulting accretionary structures eventually harden, and given enough time the life within becomes fossilized.
The Strelley Pool Formation is located in Pilbara Craton, Western Australia. The landscape below may seem like a long way from the ocean, but during the Archean Eon (2.5-4 billion years ago) it was underwater.
[Pilbara Craton, Western Australia source: Nature Geoscience]
Due to the extreme age and pristine nature of this ancient site, the Strelley Pool Formation is protected by Australia's Cultural Heritage Act. I'm happy to note that the Strelley Pool Stromatolites in the mini museum (pictured below) were obtained from a licensed dealer in accordance with this important law.
In the close-up image below, you can see what the accretionary layers look like in detail:
The Strelley Pool Stromatolite was a physically demanding specimen to prepare. The material itself is very dense, and the layers present a unique challenge since they tend to fracture. As a result, one must evaluate each cut carefully:
The larger pieces pictured above go through several stages of careful reductions until an ideal sized specimen is produced, which you can see in the macro image below:
I am particularly excited by the variety of colors and texture in this specimen. Each specimen is truly unique!
Laniakea: Our Home Supercluster
Last weekend, a paper concerning superclusters caught my eye. A supercluster is a collection of hundreds of galaxies that are linked together. They are the largest structures we've discovered so far, and scientists from the University of Hawaii have now identified the Milky Way's own home supercluster. They've named this supercluster Laniakea.
The amount of work that went into the discovery of Laniakea is staggering. You can read about in the latest issue of Nature, but I want to share the accompanying video. The data visualization is just so beautiful:
Maybe it's because I have shipping on my mind, but to me, the movement of galaxies looked like rivers streaming across the universe. I've certainly been thinking a lot about all of the places the mini museums will go. I think about the faces of the people who will receive them and what they will say to their family and friends. It's a very moving experience, and I am so looking forward to the next stage of this journey.
Now it's back to work!