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Commentary: Mineralogical Museum holds stunning minerals, however the science is quite a bit to digest

Aidan Fraser/THE REVIEW
Sharon Fitzgerald leads her speak within the Mineralogical Museum at Penny Corridor on March 16.

Senior Reporter

Do you discover magnificence in pure crystalline formations? Do you channel your vitality into colourful crystals? Are you a geological sciences main? In that case, you might wish to take a look at the college’s Mineralogical Museum positioned in Penny Corridor. The museum shows over 3,000 crystalline specimens that have been donated to the college and, fortunate for you, is open for the general public to go to all through the semester.  

The curator for the Mineralogical Museum is Sharon Fitzgerald. On March 16, Fitzgerald led a curator’s speak concerning the show of gem stones entitled “Faces and Aspects — Crystals to Gems” the place she touched on many misconceptions in gemology, which is a department of mineralogy.  

One of many misconceptions Fitzgerald made clear all through her speak is that the colour of a gemstone doesn’t decide its title. The explanation why this can be a frequent delusion is as a result of gemology was not all the time thought of a scientific discipline. As late because the 1800s, there have been 5 acknowledged classes of gem stones: ruby, sapphire, diamond, emerald and pearl. 

“The issue was that something inexperienced was known as an emerald and something purple was known as a ruby, something blue was sapphire, something clear was diamond,” Fitzgerald stated. 

George Kunz is taken into account one of many first gemologists who would journey the world to gather minerals, determine them and promote them to a donor. The donor would then donate Kunz’s assortment to museums or universities. Primarily based on Fitzgerald’s analysis, the college holds the final out of Kunz’s 12 mineral collections. 

“He was actually the one to place science to gem stones and to separate a few of this mess that was all simply color-related,” Fitzgerald stated. 

Aidan Fraser/THE REVIEW
Topaz on Quartz, Wulfenit and Elbaite and Quartz.

For the reason that occasion was open to the general public, there was a small crowd of individuals with totally different ranges of background data in gemology. Due to my restricted expertise with gemology, I discovered the content material of the speak to be particularly complicated, and I needed to conduct extra analysis after the occasion to decode phrases and phrases Fitzgerald used. 

For instance, Fitzgerald began her speak with the which means of “Faces and Aspects.” She used the phrases “minerals,” “crystals” and “gem stones” nearly interchangeably, however in mineralogy there are clear variations between these three phrases. From my understanding of the analysis I performed after the occasion, a mineral is an inorganic and naturally-occurring substance that has crystalline buildings. Synthetic crystals, although, are usually not minerals as a result of they aren’t naturally occurring. When minerals are minimize and polished, then it’s thought of a gemstone. 

I personally consider that if she had began with a succinct rationalization of the essential info about mineralogy, the speak would have been simpler to observe for somebody with restricted earlier data within the discipline. 

Aidan Fraser/THE REVIEW
Vesuvianite, which is the gemstone Sharon Fitzgerald accomplished her dissertation on and is a favourite gemstone of the collections

Along with highlighting these info, I additionally assume that if Fitzgerald confirmed the gang which gemstone was being mentioned it could have been a extra interactive expertise. A lot of the speak was stationary, with most individuals staying in the identical place whereas they listened to Fitzgerald communicate. Some visitors who had the benefit of already being accustomed to the gemstone Fitzgerald was speaking about would casually stroll to the described stone. As a substitute for mentioning the gemstone’s title, mentioning the gemstone on show would have made the speak extra clear.

As a reporter with minimal background in gemology, the curator’s speak didn’t resonate with me. The way in which that the crystals are displayed within the museum are stunning. I might inform by the considerate method Fitzgerald spoke concerning the exhibit, in addition to how properly cared for the exhibit was, that she takes nice satisfaction within the Mineralogical Museum.

Though the science of gemology is intricate, the historical past of the sphere is sort of intriguing. If the Mineralogical Museum provided extra details about its collections as if their viewers had no pre-existing data of what a mineral was, I believe there could be a greater general understanding of the historical past of the sphere, the anatomy of a mineral and the way this science is definitely misunderstood.