Story last updated at 5/9/2012 - 1:16 pm
JUNEAU - Imagine a handheld device that can tell you what an object is made of - including tiny objects that may be on its surface - without disturbing it in any way.
The device is called an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, affectionately referred to as the "science gun" by museum staff, who now have their own XRF courtesy of a Rasmuson Foundation Tier 1 Grant of $25,000.
The XRF works especially well at identifying heavier elements with more electrons including metals, minerals and glass. It can also identify certain pesticide residues. In the past, many museums applied harmful pesticides such as arsenic, mercury and bromine which may still be present on artifacts, presenting a possible danger.
"Our mission, is to identify, collect, preserve, and exhibit Alaska's material," said ASM Curator of Museum Services Scott Carrlee, of the XRF's analytical value. "Thanks to the Rasmuson Foundation, we will be able to provide this technology to more than 80 museums and cultural centers all over the state."
Winter hours at the museum run through May 12 and are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Discounted winter admission is $3. Summer hours begin May 13 and are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Summer admission is $7 with a $1 discount for seniors. Visitors 18 and under are admitted free.