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Mars orbital synthetic aperture radar: Obtaining geologic information from radar polarimetry

Smithsonian Libraries
Radar penetration of mantling layers, and scattering from buried objects or interfaces, is a topic of current interest in both terrestrial and planetary remote sensing. We examine the behavior of surface and subsurface scattering interfaces and the types of information that may be obtained from observations in different polarizations and wavelengths. These results are applied to the design of a future Mars orbital synthetic aperture radar (SAR), for which we draw the following conclusions. (1) Mapping of buried geologic features is best accomplished using VV polarization, at an optimal wavelength determined by the competing effects of antenna gain, attenuation in the dust, and the reduction in effective surface roughness with wavelength. P band frequencies (?1 GHz or less) offer the best opportunity for detection of moderately rough, buried features. (2) The relative roles of surface and subsurface scattering may be determined using measurements in HH and VV polarization, with a channel gain calibration better than 0.5 dB. (3) The thickness of a mantling layer (or ice mass) cannot be directly inferred from multiwavelength observations. Layer thickness may be inferred from the interferometric correlation of backscatter measurements collected on suitably spaced orbital passes, though the required phase measurement accuracy is challenging. While additional information may be gained by collecting scattering data in more polarizations or wavelengths, we suggest that the primary science goals of a Mars-orbiting radar could be accomplished by a single-wavelength system capable of collecting VV and HH polarizations with the calibration and orbit control needed to permit interferometric analysis.

2000 lire Stylized Portrait of Marco Polo single

National Postal Museum
On March 15, 1996, Vatican City issued a series of stamps and a souvenir sheet commemorating the 700th anniversary of Marco Polo's return from China. It is also intended as a memento of Vatican participation in the International Philatelic Exhibition "CHINA," which took place in Beijing from May 18 to 24, 1996.

Born in Venice ca. 1254, Marco Polo joined his father and uncle on a journey to China in 1271, entering the service of the Mongol ruler Kublai Kahn. Marco Polo went on diplomatic missions throughout the Mongol Empire. In 1292, the Polos left China with a delegation escorting a Mongol princess to Persia. They continued west, eventually returning to Venice. In 1298, Marco Polo was captured in a naval battle between fleets from Venice and Genoa. While in prison, he wrote a detailed account of his travels in Asia.

The souvenir sheet, which measures 138 x 100 mm, features a terrestrial globe whose right hemisphere shows the route Marco Polo followed on his return to Venice. The globe is from a volume preserved in the Pontifical Lateran Library. The Coat of Arms of Vatican City, the logo of the International Philatelic Exhibition "CHINA '96," and the inscription in Italian and Chinese, 700 ANNIVERSARIO DEL RITORNO DI MARCO POLO DALLA CINA appear along the sheet's top.

A 2,000-lire stamp measures 28.56 x 39.23 mm and has a perforation of 11 3/4. The above inscription, the value, and the words CITTA DEL VATICANO are along the border. It features a portrait of Marco Polo from the first printed edition of his account of his travels, II Millione: the Papal Crown and Crossed Keys are visible at the lower left.

Helio Courvoisier S.A. of Switzerland printed 300,000 souvenir sheets on white chalky paper in color rotogravure.

Reference:

Crimando, Thomas I. "New Issues." Vatican Notes 44, no. 6 (May 1996): 4, 6.

Odontotropis punctata Fleming

NMNH - Botany Dept.

Schedler 12-Inch Celestial Globe

National Museum of American History
The cartouche reads “H. SCHEDLER’S / CELESTIAL GLOBE / (12 inch diameter) / Exhibiting all the stars visible to / the naked eye up to the sixth magnitude / H. SCHEDLER. / JERSEY CITY, N.J. / Patented Nov. 1868 / Entered according to Act of Congress.” Broken black lines represent the constellation boundaries, while the constellation figures are in red. The globe has a three-legged wooden stand with metal braces, a metal horizon circle, and a metal meridian circle. Joseph Schedler was a German immigrant who worked in New York and New Jersey, publishing books and globes. His globes won medals at several local and international exhibitions, and were widely used in the public schools of several American cities. His son Herman continued the business from the late 1880s until after the turn of the century. The referenced patent on this globe was #84,398 issued to Edward Weissenborn. It pertained to an “Improvement in the Construction of School Globes.” This example was owned by Samuel Corby, an itinerant science lecturer who succeeded to the business begun by his father-in-law, Charles Came. Ref: Schedler’s Illustrated Manual for the Use of the Terrestrial and Celestial Globes (New York and Jersey City: H. Schedler, 1889). D. J. Warner, “The Geography of Heaven and Earth,” Rittenhouse 2 (1988): 125-127.

Lava flow surface roughness and depolarized radar scattering

Smithsonian Libraries
Surface roughness has a strong controlling influence on radar scattering and other types of remote sensing observations. We compare field measurements of surface topography and dielectric constant for a range of lava flow textures to aircraft multipolarization radar observations at 5.7, 24, and 68 cm (C, L, and P band) wavelengths. The roughness is found to vary with scale in a self-affine (fractal) manner for scale lengths between 25 cm (the smallest horizontal step size) and 3-5 m. This result is used to demonstrate that a two-component surface description, consisting of the fractal dimension and rms height or slope at some reference scale, can resolve some of the ambiguities in previous efforts to quantify roughness. At all three radar wavelengths, the HV backscatter cross section is found to vary in an approximately exponential fashion with the rms height or Allan deviation at some reference scale, up to a saturation point, where the surface appears entirely diffusely scattering to the radar. Based on these observations, we use a parameter, gamma, defined as the ratio of rms height to the particular scale of measurement. Backscatter values at 24-cm wavelength and the topographic profile data were used to derive expressions which link the HV radar cross section to gamma or to the analogous wavelength-scale rms slope. These equations provide a reasonable fit to 24- and 68-cm echoes and for rough surfaces at 5.7 cm, but yield poor results for 5.7-cm echoes on smooth terrain. We conclude that the roughness at the two larger scales is well described by a single fractal dimension and rms height, but that texture at very small scales is characterized by different statistics. This inference is supported by analysis of 5-cm horizontal spacing topographic profiles. The relationships defined here allow determination of the surface rms height or slope at the scale of the radar wavelength. Given radar data at additional wavelengths, a more complete view of the statistical properties of the surface can be developed. Such techniques may be useful in analyses of synthetic aperture radar images for terrestrial volcanic areas, Magellan data for Venus, and other planetary radar observations.

Interpretation and analysis of planetary structures

Smithsonian Libraries
Structural geology is an integral part of planetary science. Planetary structures provide the framework for determining the character and sequence of crustal deformation while simultaneously establishing the observational basis required to test geodynamic hypotheses for the deformation of planetary and satellite lithospheres. The availability of datasets that record spatial and topographic information with a resolution that matches or, in many cases, exceeds, what is available for Earth-based studies permits the deformation of several planets and satellites to be investigated down to the local or outcrop scales. The geometry and kinematics of common planetary structures such as joints, igneous dikes, deformation bands, faults, and folds can be determined with confidence from their distinctive morphologic and topographic signatures, enabling the structural histories and deformation magnitudes to be determined. Segmentation, displacement profiles, relay-ramps, footwall anticlines, displacement-controlled depocenters, and other well-known characteristics of terrestrial normal fault and graben systems reveal the sequence and processes of fault growth in numerous planetary examples. Systems of thrust faults having both blind and surface-breaking components are important elements on several bodies including Mercury, the Moon, and Mars. Strike-slip faults have been identified on bodies including Mars and Europa with oblique extension found on Ganymede. Using field-based studies of Earth-based structures as a guide, planetary structures provide a means to explore and evaluate the causative stresses. Despite the wide range in structural styles across the solar system, plate tectonics is recognized only on the Earth, with the other planets and satellites deforming in the absence of large-scale horizontal motions and attendant plate recycling.

Effects of small-scale disturbance on invasion success in marine communities

Smithsonian Libraries
Introductions of non-indigenous species have resulted in many ecological problems including the reduction of biodiversity, decline of commercially important species and alteration of ecosystems. The link between disturbance and invasion potential has rarely been studied in the marine environment where dominance hierarchies, dynamics of larval supply, and resource acquisition may differ greatly from terrestrial systems. In this study, hard substrate marine communities in Long Island Sound, USA were used to assess the effect of disturbance on resident species and recent invaders, ascidian growth form (i.e. colonial and solitary growth form), and the dominant species-specific responses within the community. Community age was an additional factor considered through manipulation of 5-wk old assemblages and 1-yr old assemblages. Disturbance treatments, exposing primary substrate, were characterized by frequency (single, biweekly, monthly) and magnitude (20%, 48%, 80%) of disturbance. In communities of different ages, disturbance frequency had a significant positive effect on space occupation of recent invaders and a significant negative effect on resident species. In the 5-wk community, magnitude of disturbance also had a significant effect. Disturbance also had a significant effect on ascidian growth form; colonial species occupied more primary space than controls in response to increased disturbance frequency and magnitude. In contrast, solitary species occupied significantly less space than controls. Species-specific responses were similar regardless of community age. The non-native colonial ascidian Diplosoma listerianum responded positively to increased disturbance frequency and magnitude, and occupied more primary space in treatments than in controls. The resident solitary ascidian Molgula manhattensis responded negatively to increased disturbance frequency and magnitude, and occupied less primary space in treatments than in controls. Small-scale biological disturbances, by creating space, may facilitate the success of invasive species and colonial organisms in the development of subtidal hard substrate communities.

Dip Circle

National Museum of American History
The Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington bought this Kew pattern dip circle in 1919. The inscription reads "Dover, Charlton Kent, Circle 240." With four needles, tripod, case, Kew certificate of examination, and importation charges, it cost $184.70. The vertical circle is silvered, graduated to 30 minutes, and read by opposite verniers to single minutes. The horizontal circle is silvered, graduated to 30 minutes, and read by vernier to single minutes.

Differentiating successful and failed molluscan invaders in estuarine ecosystems

Smithsonian Libraries
Despite mounting evidence of invasive species' impacts on the environment and society, our ability to predict invasion establishment, spread, and impact are inadequate. Efforts to explain and predict invasion outcomes have been limited primarily to terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. Invasions are also common in coastal marine ecosystems, yet to date predictive marine invasion models are absent. Here we present a model based on biological attributes associated with invasion success (establishment) of marine molluscs that compares successful and failed invasions from a group of 93 species introduced to San Francisco Bay (SFB) in association with commercial oyster transfers from eastern North America (ca. 1869 to 1940). A multiple logistic regression model correctly classified 83% of successful and 80% of failed invaders according to their source region abundance at the time of oyster transfers, tolerance of low salinity, and developmental mode. We tested the generality of the SFB invasion model by applying it to 3 coastal locations (2 in North America and 1 in Europe) that received oyster transfers from the same source and during the same time as SFB. The model correctly predicted 100, 75, and 86% of successful invaders in these locations, indicating that abundance, environmental tolerance (ability to withstand low salinity), and developmental mode not only explain patterns of invasion success in SFB, but more importantly, predict invasion success in geographically disparate marine ecosystems. Finally, we demonstrate that the proportion of marine molluscs that succeeded in the latter stages of invasion (i.e. that establish self-sustaining populations, spread and become pests) is much greater than has been previously predicted or shown for other animals and plants.

Ecological divergence and medial cuneiform morphology in gorillas

Smithsonian Libraries
Gorillas are more closely related to each other than to any other extant primate and are all terrestrial knuckle-walkers, but taxa differ along a gradient of dietary strategies and the frequency of arboreality in their behavioral repertoire. In this study, we test the hypothesis that medial cuneiform morphology falls on a morphocline in gorillas that tracks function related to hallucial abduction ability and relative frequency of arboreality. This morphocline predicts that western gorillas, being the most arboreal, should display a medial cuneiform anatomy that reflects the greatest hallucial abduction ability, followed by grauer gorillas, and then by mountain gorillas. Using a three-dimensional methodology to measure angles between articular surfaces, relative articular and nonarticular areas, and the curvatures of the hallucial articular surface, the functional predictions are partially confirmed in separating western gorillas from both eastern gorillas. Western gorillas are characterized by a more medially oriented, proportionately larger, and more mediolaterally curved hallucial facet than are eastern gorillas. These characteristics follow the predictions for a more prehensile hallux in western gorillas relative to a more stable, plantigrade hallux in eastern gorillas. The characteristics that distinguish eastern gorilla taxa from one another appear unrelated to hallucial abduction ability or frequency of arboreality. In total, this reexamination of medial cuneiform morphology suggests differentiation between eastern and western gorillas due to a longstanding ecological divergence and more recent and possibly non-adaptive differences between eastern taxa. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Geomorphic Evolution of the Martian Highlands Through Ancient Fluvial Processes

Smithsonian Libraries
Craters in the Martian highlands are preserved in various stages of degradation. As a result of an erosional process active from the Middle Noachian (4.40?3.92 b.y.) through the Hesperian (3.55?1.8 b.y.), ejecta associated with fresh impact craters became etched, hummocky, and dissected by runoff channels. With time, interior gullies became deeply incised and ejecta deposits were entirely removed. Infilling of the craters followed until, in some instances, the craters were completely buried. Only fluvial processes explain these morphologic variations, the size range of affected craters, and the size-frequency distribution curves associated with these crater populations. Based on the number of superposed fresh impact craters, fluvial processes affecting the highlands ceased entirely by the end of the Hesperian. No correlation between cessation of degradation and latitude exists. However, a strong correlation exists between cessation of degradation and elevation. Degradation ended at higher elevations (e.g., 3?4 km; N [5]=?200, Late Noachian) before lower elevations (e.g., 1?2 km; N[5]=?180, Early Hesperian), suggesting that cessation was coupled to desiccation of the volatile reservoir and degassing of a 5?20 bar primordial atmosphere. Volatiles released to the surface by runoff channel formation and seepage may have been part of a complex hydrologic cycle that included periodic, heavy amounts of precipitation. Rainfall was principally responsible for degrading the highlands, eroding impact craters, and redistributing sediments. Rainfall also recharged the highland aquifers, allowing sapping and seepage to continue for hundreds of millions of years. As the primordial atmosphere was lost, cloud condensation, and thus rainfall and aquifer recharge, occurred at progressively lower elevations. Based on estimates on the amount of material removed and duration of degradation, denudation rates averaged 0.0001?0.005 mm/yr. These rates are equivalent to those in terrestrial periglacial environments.

Numbers Don’t Lie: The CD Really Is Dead

Smithsonian Magazine

As streaming music gains popularity, record companies have insisted it’s not threatening their sales. But newly released statistics suggest that streaming music may be killing a format instead. For the first time ever, streaming revenues have surpassed those made by compact discs.

A new report from the Recording Industry Association of America shows that streaming outlets generated $1.87 billion in 2014—while CD sales fell to $1.85 billion. Streaming music’s edge is slight but significant: it now accounts for 27 percent of the industry’s total revenues. And while permanent downloads still dominate the digital music market (with $2.58 billion in revenues, they bring in about 38 percent more than streaming services), streaming is catching up quickly.

With digital music now capturing 65 percent of the market’s revenues, it’s easy to predict the demise of all physical formats. But there is one dark horse in the game. The RIAA’s report also showed that vinyl sales continue to rise (revenues are up 50 percent since 2013). LPs have staged what the Wall Street Journal calls “the biggest music comeback of 2014,” and the format is making gains with the same under-35 demographic that’s fueling streaming music. 

The humble CD isn’t the only format that’s being edged out by a changing music market, either. Streaming music is threatening another mainstay: the car radio. The New York Post reports that terrestrial radio is being edged out by streaming services like Sirius XM and Pandora—and by 2018, more than 60 percent of new vehicles in the United States will come equipped with the technology it takes to stream on the go.

Gerard Mercator

National Museum of American History
Gerard Mercator (1512-1594) was a cartographer and mathematician from Rumpelmonde who worked in Antwerp, in the Spanish Netherlands, and later in Duisburg, in western Germany. Frans Hogenberg (1535-1590), an engraver of maps and city views, created this half-length portrait in 1574. Mercator here wears a flat hat and long beard, and uses dividers to measure distances on his terrestrial globe of 1541, a globe that depicted America, Peru, and the north magnetic pole. The image was produced at the request of Abraham Ortelius, a Flemish merchant, scholar, and cartographer who compiled what is considered to be the first modern atlas. Ortelius wanted the portrait for inclusion his Album Amicorum. It later appeared in Mercator’s 1584 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography and the 1595 edition of Mercator’s Atlas. This example was used as frontispiece to Mercator's Italiae Sclavoniae, et Graeciae tabulae geographicae (Duisburg: 1589). The text at top reads “ÆTATIS SUÆ LXII.” The text around the image reads “Magna Pelusiacis debetur gratia chartis: Magna tibi priscum tandem superasse laborem. Mercator, tractusque novus, terræque, arosque. Mons trasse, et magnum quod continent Omnia cæsum. I. Vivian. ludeb:” The text below the image reads “GERARDI MERCATORIS RUPELMUNDANI EFFIGIEM ANNOR. / DUORUM ET SEX – AGINTA, SUI ERGA IPSUM STV DII / CAUSA DEPINGI CURABAT FRAC. HOG. M. D. LXXIV.” Ref: Mercator, Gerhard, 1512-1594, Karrow, Robert W., Octavo Corporation, Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection (Library of Congress), Atlas sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura [Octavo CD-ROM edition], Oakland, CA: Octavo digital ed., 2000 [1595]; http://mail.nysoclib.org/Mercator_Atlas/MCRATS.PDF Nicholas Crane, Mercator. The Man Who Mapped the Planet (New York, 2003). Jason Harris, “The Practice of Community: Humanist Friendship during the Dutch Revolt,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 47 (2005): 299-325.

No post-Cretaceous ecosystem depression in European forests? Rich insect-feeding damage on diverse middle Palaeocene plants, Menat, France

Smithsonian Libraries
Insect herbivores are considered vulnerable to extinctions of their plant hosts. Previous studies of insect-damaged fossil leaves in the US Western Interior showed major plant and insect herbivore extinction at the Cretaceous–Palaeogene (K–T) boundary. Further, the regional plant–insect system remained depressed or ecologically unbalanced throughout the Palaeocene. Whereas Cretaceous floras had high plant and insect-feeding diversity, all Palaeocene assemblages to date had low richness of plants, insect feeding or both. Here, we use leaf fossils from the middle Palaeocene Menat site, France, which has the oldest well-preserved leaf assemblage from the Palaeocene of Europe, to test the generality of the observed Palaeocene US pattern. Surprisingly, Menat combines high floral diversity with high insect activity, making it the first observation of a ‘healthy’ Palaeocene plant–insect system. Furthermore, rich and abundant leaf mines across plant species indicate well-developed host specialization. The diversity and complexity of plant–insect interactions at Menat suggest that the net effects of the K–T extinction were less at this greater distance from the Chicxulub, Mexico, impact site. Along with the available data from other regions, our results show that the end-Cretaceous event did not cause a uniform, long-lasting depression of global terrestrial ecosystems. Rather, it gave rise to varying regional patterns of ecological collapse and recovery that appear to have been strongly influenced by distance from the Chicxulub structure.

Climate and vegetational regime shifts in the late Paleozoic ice age earth

Smithsonian Libraries
The late Paleozoic earth experienced alternation between glacial and non-glacial climates at multiple temporal scales, accompanied by atmospheric CO2 fluctuations and global warming intervals, often attended by significant vegetational changes in equatorial latitudes of Pangaea. We assess the nature of climate2013vegetation interaction during two time intervals: middle2013late Pennsylvanian transition and Pennsylvanian2013Permian transition, each marked by tropical warming and drying. In case study 1, there is a catastrophic intra-biomic reorganization of dominance and diversity in wetland, evergreen vegetation growing under humid climates. This represents a threshold-type change, possibly a regime shift to an alternative stable state. Case study 2 is an inter-biome dominance change in western and central Pangaea from humid wetland and seasonally dry to semi-arid vegetation. Shifts between these vegetation types had been occurring in Euramerican portions of the equatorial region throughout the late middle and late Pennsylvanian, the drier vegetation reaching persistent dominance by Early Permian. The oscillatory transition between humid and seasonally dry vegetation appears to demonstrate a threshold-like behavior but probably not repeated transitions between alternative stable states. Rather, changes in dominance in lowland equatorial regions were driven by long-term, repetitive climatic oscillations, occurring with increasing intensity, within overall shift to seasonal dryness through time. In neither case study are there clear biotic or abiotic warning signs of looming changes in vegetational composition or geographic distribution, nor is it clear that there are specific, absolute values or rates of environmental change in temperature, rainfall distribution and amount, or atmospheric composition, approach to which might indicate proximity to a terrestrial biotic-change threshold.

Juvet Time Globe

National Museum of American History
In 1880, Scientific American enthusiastically recommended Louis P. Juvet's time globe to its readers. It was, the magazine found, "a fit ornament for any library, a valuable adjunct in every business office, and a necessity in every institution of learning." The clockwork-driven globe was undeniably useful for studying geography, determining world time, and illustrating the rotation of the earth. The basis of its appeal, however, was even broader. Prominently displayed in the parlors and drawing rooms of Gilded Age America, the elegant time globe clearly demonstrated the wealth and culture of its owner. Available in a range of sizes and versions simple and ornate, the time globe consisted of three basic elements: a globe, a mechanism for rotating it, and a base. The globe most often featured a terrestrial map, but celestial globes were also offered. An equatorial ring indicated worldwide time and zones of daylight and darkness. A meridian ring supported a clock dial over the north pole. Concealed within the globe was a four-day, spring-driven brass movement that drove the clock dial and rotated the globe once every twenty-four hours. Manufactured for Juvet by Rood and Horton of Bristol, Connecticut, the movements featured a lever escapement and a balance wheel. Turning the feather end of the arrow-shaped axis wound the movement. Precisely when production of the globes began is uncertain. Juvet, a Swiss immigrant and a resident of Glens Falls, New York, first patented a mechanical globe in January 1867, and exhibited one at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. Probably sometime in 1879, Juvet formed a partnership with James Arkell. By the early 1880s, Juvet and Company of Canajoharie, New York, was making more than sixty varieties of globes. In October 1886, fire consumed the factory where the globes were assembled, ending their manufacture there forever. Pictured on the left. Overall measurements are 55 1/2 x 17 x 17 inches.

Magnetometer

National Museum of American History
This theodolite magnetometer is based on the design that the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey developed in 1892-1893. It is similar in many ways to the instrument that the Survey had been using since the early 1880s, but with several new features. One is the octagonal shape of the collimating magnets. Another is the black velvet screen that connects the telescope with the suspension box: this cuts off stray light and eliminates the problems that had been caused by the glass window in the earlier form. It is marked "FAUTH & CO. WASHN D.C. 941" and "T.M.C.I. 1." The serial number suggests that it was made around 1895. This instrument belonged to the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Internal records indicate that D.T.M. purchased it from Kolesch & Co. in New York in 1906 (for $175), sent it to Bausch, Lomb, Saegmuller Co. for repairs (another $120), and kept it in service until 1919. Ref: Edwin Smith, "Notes on Some Instruments Recently Made in the Instrument Division of the Coast and Geodetic Survey Office," Annual Report of the Superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey for 1894, Appendix No. 8.

The Major-Element Composition of Mercury’s Surface from MESSENGER X-ray Spectrometry

Smithsonian Libraries
X-ray fluorescence spectra obtained by the MESSENGER spacecraft orbiting Mercury indicate that the planet’s surface differs in composition from those of other terrestrial planets. Relatively high Mg/Si and low Al/Si and Ca/Si ratios rule out a lunarlike feldspar-rich crust. The sulfur abundance is at least 10 times higher than that of the silicate portion of Earth or the Moon, and this observation, together with a low surface Fe abundance, supports the view that Mercury formed from highly reduced precursor materials, perhaps akin to enstatite chondrite meteorites or anhydrous cometary dust particles. Low Fe and Ti abundances do not support the proposal that opaque oxides of these elements contribute substantially to Mercury’s low and variable surface reflectance.

Atari Games That No One Wanted Now Selling for $500 a Pop

Smithsonian Magazine

Earlier this year a team working on a documentary excavated a landfill and unearthed a stash of discarded Atari video games, including a stash of copies of the 1982 flop E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, a game that is, arguably, the worst video game of all time.

Now, some of those finds are going up for auction. The city of Alamogordo, New Mexico, could pull as much as $500 for a broken copy of a game that no one even wanted when it was new.

E.T. isn't the only game on the block, says Gamespot, but it is the highlight.

Should you win an auction for E.T., or any of the other excavated games, you'll receive a certificate of authenticity and a property tag. You'll also get a pamphlet with photos from 1983 and the dig earlier this year.

Some things are more valuable in posterity than they were at their peak. Sometimes, as with the Apple I computer from 1976 that just sold for nearly a million dollars or the first edition Superman comic from 1938 that went for $2.1 million, these objects are valuable for what they represent—early iterations of concepts that went on to change the world.

In others, objects appreciate in value because, as the idiom goes, they just don't make 'em like they used to.

But sometimes these object were never wanted, not even in their prime. It's only a sense of ironic nostalgia and kitschy cachet that's bolstered them in their afterlife.

Aside from these copies at auction, the Tularosa Basin Historical Society is also looking to donate some copies of the unearthed games to the Smithsonian and other museums, says Engadget.

Evidence for a recent increase in forest growth

Smithsonian Libraries
Forests and their soils contain the majority of the earth's terrestrial carbon stocks. Changes in patterns of tree growth can have a huge impact on atmospheric cycles, biogeochemical cycles, climate change, and biodiversity. Recent studies have shown increases in biomass across many forest types. This increase has been attributed to climate change. However, without knowing the disturbance history of a forest, growth could also be caused by normal recovery from unknown disturbances. Using a unique dataset of tree biomass collected over the past 22 years from 55 temperate forest plots with known land-use histories and stand ages ranging from 5 to 250 years, we found that recent biomass accumulation greatly exceeded the expected growth caused by natural recovery. We have also collected over 100 years of local weather measurements and 17 years of on-site atmospheric CO measurements that show consistent increases in line with globally observed climate-change patterns. Combined, these observations show that changes in temperature and CO that have been observed worldwide can fundamentally alter the rate of critical natural processes, which is predicted by biogeochemical models. Identifying this rate change is important to research on the current state of carbon stocks and the fluxes that influence how carbon moves between storage and the atmosphere. These results signal a pressing need to better understand the changes in growth rates in forest systems, which influence current and future states of the atmosphere and biosphere.

Reading the Complex Skipper Butterfly Fauna of One Tropical Place

Smithsonian Libraries
Background: An intense, 30-year, ongoing biodiversity inventory of Lepidoptera, together with their food plants and parasitoids, is centered on the rearing of wild-caught caterpillars in the 120,000 terrestrial hectares of dry, rain, and cloud forest of Area de Conservacion Guanacaste (ACG) in northwestern Costa Rica. Since 2003, DNA barcoding of all species has aided their identification and discovery. We summarize the process and results for a large set of the species of two speciose subfamilies of ACG skipper butterflies (Hesperiidae) and emphasize the effectiveness of barcoding these species (which are often difficult and time-consuming to identify). Methodology/Principal Findings: Adults are DNA barcoded by the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, Guelph, Canada; and they are identified by correlating the resulting COI barcode information with more traditional information such as food plant, facies, genitalia, microlocation within ACG, caterpillar traits, etc. This process has found about 303 morphologically defined species of eudamine and pyrgine Hesperiidae breeding in ACG (about 25% of the ACG butterfly fauna) and another 44 units indicated by distinct barcodes (n = 9,094), which may be additional species and therefore may represent as much as a 13% increase. All but the members of one complex can be identified by their DNA barcodes. Conclusions/Significance: Addition of DNA barcoding to the methodology greatly improved the inventory, both through faster (hence cheaper) accurate identification of the species that are distinguishable without barcoding, as well as those that require it, and through the revelation of species "hidden" within what have long been viewed as single species. Barcoding increased the recognition of species-level specialization. It would be no more appropriate to ignore barcode data in a species inventory than it would be to ignore adult genitalia variation or caterpillar ecology.

Conservatism of Late Pennsylvanian vegetational patterns during short-term cyclic and long-term directional environmental change, western equatorial Pangea

Smithsonian Libraries
Patterns of plant distribution by palaeoenvironment were examined across the Pennsylvanian–Permian transition in North–Central Texas. Stratigraphically recurrent packages of distinct lithofacies, representing different habitats, contain qualitatively and quantitatively different macrofloras and microfloras. The species pools demonstrate niche conservatism, remaining closely tied to specific habitats, during both short-term cyclic environmental change and a long-term trend of increasing aridity. The deposits examined principally comprise the terrestrial Markley and its approximate marine equivalent, the Harpersville Formation and parts of lower Archer City Formation. Fossiliferous deposits are lens-like, likely representing fill sequences of channels formed during abandonment phases. Palaeosols, represented by blocky mudstones, comprise a large fraction of the deposits. They suggest progressive climate change from minimally seasonal humid to seasonal subhumid to seasonal dry subhumid. Five lithofacies yielded plants: kaolinite-dominated siltstone, organic shale, mudstone beds within organic shale, coarsening upward mudstone–sandstone interbeds and channel sandstone. Both macro- and microflora were examined. Lithofacies proved compositionally distinct, with different patterns of dominance diversity. Organic shales (swamp deposits), mudstone partings (swamp drainages) and coarsening upward mudstone–sandstone interbeds (floodplains) typically contain Pennsylvanian wetland vegetation. Kaolinite-dominated siltstones and (to the extent known) sandstones contain taxa indicative of seasonally dry substrates. Some kaolinite-dominated siltstones and organic shales/coals yielded palynomorphs. Microfloras are more diverse, with greater wetland–dryland overlap than macrofloras. It appears that these two floras were coexistent at times on the regional landscape.
39193-39216 of 39,406 Resources