Dr. Gladys B. West: The woman who reshaped the modern world

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Dr. Gladys West is inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame during a ceremony in her honor at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2018. West was among the so-called “Hidden Figures” part of the team who did computing for the U.S. military in the era before electronic systems. The Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame is one of Air Force’s Space Commands Highest Honors.(Photo by Adrian Cadiz)

Celebrating International Day of Women, Girls in Science, and Black History Month!

Today, February 11, 2021, is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The day is meant to honor and celebrate the contributions to the sciences made by women and girls globally, and take a stance of commitment to continually expand the sciences to be more accessible and inclusive to women and girls. The 2021 theme is focusing on COVID-19. A technology that is essential to accurately tracking data associated with COVID-19 is the Global Positioning System (GPS).    Read more

Be My Mariner? Share a Secret with Your Mariner Valentine

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This year we are going to explore the making and use of, drumroll please, Invisible Ink to send secrets to your Valentine!

This year we are going to explore the making and use of, drumroll please, Invisible Ink to send secrets to your Valentine!

Rust never sleeps

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Treatment solution wicking through the wiring and drying out on the electrical contacts.

“Rust never sleeps” was the title of an ICOM-CC conference dedicated to metals conservation in 2011; and it summarizes quite well why the conservation department cannot just leave the lab completely unattended during the current pandemic.

Not only are there a lot of electrochemical treatment set-ups that need constant attention in the “wet lab” and outdoor tanks, but environmental conditions in dry object storage also require our steadfast attention.   Read more

Science in the Field – Measuring Your Soil Acidity

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Forester of The Mariners’ Museum and Park employed 1930-1935

One of the coolest things about working at The Mariners’ Museum and Park is seeing how science has been, well, a thing, since the very beginning.  The fact that we were doing soil pH measurement as early as the 1930’s is something that deserves a little more discussion.

A Little History

Early in the creation of the Park, our forester George Mason (shown below) and consultant Ralph Hayes, a professor at North Carolina State University, conducted a pH (acidity) soil survey of the grounds at the direction of the Museum’s Garden Committee. Mason and Hayes performed tests to ensure the success of 3,920 azaleas and rhododendrons on Lake promontories. Over time, the plantings disappeared through natural forest succession. However, that early soil testing was vital in the planting of the entire Park.   Read more

Plastics in Our Collections: Chapter 1

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Collecting latex from a tree
© User:Iamshibukc / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Plastics Age

History is filled with ages that are tied to the innovation of materials:  The Stone Age, The Bronze Age, and The Iron Age. We are currently in The Plastics Age. Plastics have changed so much in our daily lives. Plastics are around us all the time.  They are in every electrical thing in our houses, in the clothes that we wear, in our furniture and the packaging of our food.

This means that as caretakers of historic objects, museums have to consider how long plastic materials will last in our collections. We focus on what we have to do and learn in order to care for plastic objects. We also study plastics in order to store them in ways that better ensure their survival. This is a complicated thing.  Plastics are not simple materials, and what works for one may damage another.  Some plastics have been around longer than others, so we know more about them. We can see how they’ve aged. For other plastics, we can guess at how they will survive (or not) based on their behaviors and chemistries, while still others are a gigantic question mark.   Read more