Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cherries of Clark County, Indiana

My father and I picked a number of containers of cherries from a tree on his property. The tree is a descendant from a cherry tree on my great-grandmother's farm. The cherries are marble size and tart (not sweet like a Bing cherry). Even though tart bordering on sour I tasted a number of the fruit while picking. The taste reminded me of childhood in southern Indiana with our small orchid. Once we picked the cherries my mother would make cherry preserves and pies.

All and all this year was a very good crop.  We did not try to reach the cherries at the top & center of the tree.  A little snack for the birds.  Last year the birds cleared the tree out quickly so nothing was harvested.  The 2008 was not too bad with maybe 75% of what was picked this year collected.

I hope this is a positive sign toward a good Concord grape and watermelon harvest in 2010!

My mother used some of the cherries already picked to make this delicious pie using Splenda as a sweetener. You do not want the pie too sweet to overwhelm the tartness of this cherry. It was yummy with a nice crisp crust with a cinnamon & sugar topping.  As the photos show, it is already half way consumed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pink Lily

Pink lillies blooming in Louisville, Kentucky. The winter was not kind to these plants.  Last season there were maybe 8-12 plants now there are just two.  I am not sure why so few are left but I think either squirrels or chipmunks were eating them.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Electron Microscope Image of Fluorite

Image of a fluorite crystal mined from Rosclaire, Illinois in the fluorspar district.  It is the state mineral of Illinois which was at one time the largest producer of fluorite in the United States.  The mineral is composed of calcium fluoride and its primary industrial use is in steel making (flux to remove impurities).  Fluorite is also found in Kentucky which has the Ben E. Clement mineral museum dedicated to its mining in Marion, Kentucky.

What does the surface of fluorite look like?  We need a microscope to magnify it.  Using an optical microscope at 40x magnification, one can see something like in the picture below.  Definitely there is room for improvement so one can use a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to see a much more precise view of its surface.

Luckily, a company in Delmont, Pennsylvania called ASPEX Corporation has a promotion where they will scan objects for free.  So sending them a small crystal of fluorite and a filled out form, they sent results back in about 10 weeks (it is popular and a lot of people are sending them material to scan!).

The analysis and report was done by Binyam using the PSEM eXplorer (shown in the image below) to analyze the fluorite crystal.  A manual SEM and EDX Analysis was done using Backscatter electron detection (BSED) to collect images under variable pressure conditions (0.15 Torr) and 20 KeV.

The results are shown below with 200 um and 100 um scales on the images.  This crystal surface was formed over 100 million years ago when fluorine rich water from the earth's depths made contact with calcium rich limestone closer to the surface. 

In the images shown, I assume most of the coarse surface detail is grit from mud and sand the crystal was found in.  An interesting experiment would be to clean the crystal in an ultrasonic bath in different time increments to see if this material disappeared or not.

ASPEX also scanned a fossil of 400 million year worm tube for me, see that report at this web link. See more samples of every day items at ASPEX Corporation's website.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Small peaches growing on fruit trees in the back yard.  I am guessing the trees were about 5 years old when I planted them so they are now about 7.  What I did not realize was I should be thinning the fruit on each tree so it does not get overtaxed by the fruit.  Each tree appears to have at least 15 peaches on them.

The peaches are about the sizes of plums but appear to be ripening so it might be too late to thin their ranks.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Good-bye Scotty

Scotty the elephant at the Louisville Zoo (Kentucky) on April 26, 2009 during Earth Day Celebration.  Unfortunately, the zoo had to euthanize Scotty on May 12, 2010 due to colic.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Red Amaryllis

Red amaryllis flower blooming in Louisville, Kentucky. I have four plants and hope one will bloom each year.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Car Fire in Louisville, Kentucky

Car fire that occurred today on South Hurstbourne Lane near Wal-Mart.  The police and fire departments acted quickly and contained the fire before anything really bad happened.