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Author Topic: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time  (Read 66095 times)

Chris Johnson

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2013, 01:54:44 PM »

Jon, abundant evidence simply by Google, plus very many period newspaper ads. It's fact.

Dan Brown, #2408

Links would be nice :)
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2013, 01:56:56 PM »

Co-author and senior archaeologist Tom King weighed in today as well:

http://ameliaearhartarchaeology.blogspot.com/2013/09/analysis-published-of-jar-from-seven.html

Joe Cerniglia ~ TIGHAR #3078ECR
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Greg George

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2013, 03:38:23 PM »

Jennifer -

We felt we could best state the lab's direct results by simply reporting the amount of mercury found in an initially mercury free (i.e. undetectable) acid leachate. We chose not to convert units to a per area basis, as would typically be done in establishing mercury levels on a surface in order to clarify what we actually measured ... the concentration of an acid leachate applied to the surface. 

You are correct that 4 micrograms per liter for 0.050 Liter of leachate represents 4 ug /L x (50 mL/1000 ml/L)  = 0.2 micrograms of mercury from an area of rougly 6.2 square centimeters (although the area was irregular and difficult to establish exactly).  This corresponds therefore to a surface coverage of 0.02 micrograms per square centimeter.   Note that this measurement included a blank which was below the estimated 0.2 ug per Liter limit of detection.

I am remiss in not making clearer the strange use in units, which we will fix.   Thank you for this comment.   Again, our intent was to avoid building layers of assumptions into what we directly measured and what the lab directly reported.

At 4 ug/L, we are about 20x the method detection limit of 0.2 ug per liter.  In fact, this level is about 100X the baseline level measured when wipe-testing drum surfaces at a typical "clean" industrial waste site, where this much mercury was found in  nearly 100 square centimeters of wiping.

 http://www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/wastetypes/universal/drumtop/app-f.pdf

 

- Greg
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Greg George

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2013, 03:42:36 PM »

Dan -

It is important to understand that mercury recovered by a brief acid leach from the surface of a piece of glass cannot be compared with that extracted by total decomposition digestion of the glass in more aggressive acids.  Low level mercury which is internal to the glass, and present in the glass matrix, is not available to the leaching procedure, other than the few atoms which poke through the glass surface. 

We have established elsewhere that the permeation rate of leachate acid into the glass itself is of very low order, and therefore the mercury observed in the leach was not leached out of the glass but from the surface of the glass.

This would consistent with what we know about the form of mercury when baked in to glasses (matrix bound mercury metal sulfides and metal-bound oxides formed at furnace temperatures) as opposed to what is left by a medicinal cream (water insoluble, but acid soluble, refractory ammoniated mercury).  Only surficial mecury is available to the leach procedure.   Furthermore, most glasses of this era contain traces of mercury which is a tramp element in several of the glass additives used.  This mercury can't account for the surface mercury, however.

- Greg
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Daniel R. Brown

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2013, 06:01:07 PM »

Chris, there are numerous articles and hundreds of ads for ammoniated mercury ointments in the period newspapers like the ones attached here. These are a random sample from 1937, I haven't searched for the earliest possible examples. So again, it's fact not assertion.

Greg, I am with you on the difference between surface and interior Hg, that's why I think the rinse of the outer surface is much more meaningful than the chip total.

Dan Brown, #2408
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2013, 08:10:09 AM »

The objectionable sentence stated mercury in ointments had but a single purpose, which was to lighten skin.  I still think in the timeframe of the early 20th Century that was arguably the chief purpose, but a better choice of words might have added mercury in ointments "sold in this style jar appear to have" had but a single purpose, which was to lighten skin.  I readily concede the point should have been further refined.

It's easy to get tunnel vision in a writing project such as this one that occupies more than a year of preparation.  In a number of instances, we curbed our enthusiasm and tried very hard not to oversell our arguments, but this is one case that slipped through.  Good catch, Dan!

Joe Cerniglia ~ TIGHAR #3078ECR
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2013, 08:39:15 AM »

I've been lurking here for a while, but since I'm a scientist and not an aircraft researcher, never dreamed I would be posting.

My scientific background is relevant to this report, though, so here goes. This report is fascinating and thorough, and the conclusions are well thought-out.

I do see a couple of minor discrepancies having to do with the units reported on some of the analyses. These do not appear to affect any of the conclusions of the report, however, but I note them for clarity and also because I find it important to have correct units, because later researchers will often refer back to earlier reports and will rely on the units as reported.

The apparent discrepancies are:
Under "What did 2-9-S-1 contain?" this statement:
"The test results showed mercury in the interior at a level of 4 micrograms (µg) per 50 milliliters (ml) of solute."
The analytical reports by EAG show that the concentration in the liquid was 4 micrograms per liter. (The Coke bottle report by EAG shows it as 0.004 mg/L, which is the same as 4 ug/L.)
It appears, therefore, that there were 50 mL of leachate containing 4 ug/L of mercury, rather than 50 mL containing 4 ug of mercury. (4 ug in 50 mL would be 80 ug/L.)

The assumption that there were 50 mL containing 4 ug/L of mercury was used in the spreadsheet where this concentration was converted to a mass per surface area figure for comparison with background surfaces. On that spreadsheet, it appears that the units in cell A1 are ug/L, and in cell H1 should be ug Hg per cm2, not ug per liter per cm2. (The liters canceled out.)

Again, I think the numbers are correct, but if I'm following this then the units just need to be tweaked.

I'm now going to be away from computers for the next week. If I'm wrong here, please excuse me!
Jennifer,

I see now you are exactly correct.  The units should only have been expressed in micrograms per liter.  4 mcg in 50 ml is incorrect.  The concentration of Hg on the interior surface of 2-9-S-1 should be 4 mcg per 1 liter.  The concentration of Hg on the interior surface of the authentic Dr. Berry's Freckle Ointment jar should be 120 mg per 1 liter. As Greg George has explained, we converted mcg per 1 liter back to the original concentration units in mcg per 50 ml (the original leachate volume after dilution) by dividing by 20. We did this to approximate as closely as possible the actual amount of mercury, .2 mcg, leached from the jar surface, and then we divide by surface area in order that we might have a means of comparing our Hg levels to standards of threshold contamination levels set by a state agency in New Jersey. 

Notably, the calculation in the report of how many times our Hg levels exceeded the N.J. standard was correct, as you rightly suspected.  The units, however, were misleading.  Fortunately, we did not repeat the error in our tabular summary of results, which occurred later in the report.  There, all results are expressed in micrograms per liter.

One problem of this error in units is that it could be interpreted as overstating the Hg by a factor of 20.  Notably, you not only caught the error but figured out what we intended to say.  Thanks very much for help in clarifying this point.

Joe Cerniglia ~ TIGHAR #3078ECR
« Last Edit: September 17, 2013, 01:46:42 PM by Joe Cerniglia »
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Jennifer Hubbard

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2013, 03:55:35 PM »

Thank you, Joe Cerniglia. Glad I could contribute!

As I said, I've been away from computers all week and was a bit rushed in my initial post, so I hoped that what I was saying was clear enough.

Initially, I only commented on the units issue, because units are a factual matter that could be resolved definitively. Now that I have a bit more time and I see there has been a bit more discussion of the comparison to standards: I admit to some hesitation about comparing the jar to industrial contamination standards, because such standards can be set for various reasons and purposes, and they can be based on a variety of factors (typical background / cost-benefit / health protection / etc.). It's possible that's not really an apples-to-apples comparison ...

However, in this context I think you have information that's even better: a comparison of the inside of the jar to the outside of the jar, and a comparison of the jar to the Coke bottle. To me, those comparisons are apples-to-apples and really persuasive.

And the research on the history of the jar and the glass company was impressive!

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Dave Potratz

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2013, 09:42:54 AM »

Joe,

Just wanted to offer a simple "thank you" for this engaging report, and the fine efforts of Mr. Lockhart, Dr. King, Mr. George and yourself.

I feel it's important to express that it's access to THIS kind of expert & thoughtful analysis (not to mention your reasoned and insightful responses to the forum discourse here) that is precisely why I am a TIGHAR member (Researcher level!  :) ).  I'm confident that I'm merely one of many, many, many who feel this way.

Not just trying to blow sunshine at you here, but yours, et. al. expert efforts toward this historic endeavor are inspiring as they are most impressive (and WAY cool  8) ).

I look forward to your next.

LTM, who always new a good thing when she saw it.

dp
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Jon Romig

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2013, 08:01:42 PM »

The objectionable sentence stated mercury in ointments had but a single purpose, which was to lighten skin.  I still think in the timeframe of the early 20th Century that was arguably the chief purpose, but a better choice of words might have added mercury in ointments "sold in this style jar appear to have" had but a single purpose, which was to lighten skin.  I readily concede the point should have been further refined.

It is clear from the material that Dan Brown posted (thanks Dan!) that mercury was used medicinally in the 30's for more than lightening skin. We also have indications that this style jar may have been sold empty to pharmacists for dispensing locally compounded medicines, ointments, etc. Thus I question our ability to say there was a "single purpose" for the jar's contents, i.e. lightening skin. The ointment jar clearly contained mercury, but IMO the contents could have been compounded for a variety of purposes.

I very much admire the work and dedication that has gone into analyzing and researching the jar. I only wish that the results had taken us closer to Amelia, rather than (what appears to me to be) further away.

Jon

Jon Romig 3562R
 
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2013, 09:32:44 PM »

Your interpretation that 2-9-S-1 leads us away from Earhart is your interpretation.  I respect that.  Many could-haves are possible.  The artifacts themselves could have been planted by someone intent on mimicking Earhart's presence.  That is another interpretation.  What we did was to try to take the specific available context - historical, other artifacts at the site, other jars in that style - and lay it out in the broadest way possible to let the reader decide what is probable, not what is known.  The fact is we know very little, and very little here is knowable in the absolute sense.  But what is knowable does not interest me half as much as what is probable.  This is the basis for a hypothesis - a guess, and it's the way our scientific method works.  It only takes a single generality to argue against a certainty - but then, we never claimed certainty. 

Joe Cerniglia ~ TIGHAR #3078ECR
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Jennifer Hubbard

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #26 on: October 08, 2013, 06:33:23 PM »

I don't think the analysis takes you farther from AE/FN, either. (If that type of jar were only sold or produced after 1937, for example, then that would take us farther from AE/FN.) Rather, all that we can tell about the jar and contents so far are consistent with AE's time period. Therefore, while she is not the only possible source of the jar, she is not excluded as a possible source.
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #27 on: October 16, 2013, 04:59:40 AM »

Although we did try to be comprehensive in our paper, there were a few loose ends that we did not tie up or mention, simply because there was no consensus on them, and no way of creating consensus.

One of these was the subject of scratch marks inside one of the base fragments of the shard. This was the same fragment that we had analyzed by a lab for surface remnants.  You should be able to see the scratches in the attached photo.  Our group debated 4 possible causes.  My question to the group for its discussion is: what (or who) caused these marks and why?  There are no wrong answers, other than the frivolous.  Feel free to be as specific as you wish.  When the discussion peters, or even if it never begins, in a few days I'll go into more depth about the group's discussion and further questions it posed for possible follow-up.

Joe Cerniglia ~ TIGHAR #3078ECR

« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 05:09:53 AM by Joe Cerniglia »
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Chris Johnson

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #28 on: October 16, 2013, 05:14:19 AM »

Question! Do the scratches appear to be made before or after the object was broken?
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: New Artifact Report: A Freckle in Time
« Reply #29 on: October 16, 2013, 05:20:35 AM »

Question! Do the scratches appear to be made before or after the object was broken?

That's a million-dollar question.  I don't think it's answerable, but I may not be seeing the whole picture.  Our 4 hypotheses on the causes were split 50-50 before and after - two ideas of how and why it could be done before, and two ideas of after.

Joe Cerniglia ~ TIGHAR #3078ECR
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