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Life Arts    H4'ed 2/13/10

Crystal Found Harder than Diamonds in Meteorite

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As researchers were cleaning a crystal encased in meteorite with a
diamond based solution, they discovered something incredible. The
carbon based minerals within had formed in a way that was harder than
diamond, the previously thought hardest naturally occurring mineral.
The find may shatter what we think of in terms of carbon minerals as we
know them.

Tristan Ferroir, one of the scientists studying the meteorite, admits
quickly that the discovery was quite accidental, but says that the
study of the meteorite was launched with the intention of learning
about the formation of carbon minerals. It's then quite understandable
how shocked the French scientist was when the crystals within the
meteorite proved harder than any naturally occurring mineral currently
known in the universe.

The mineral harder than diamond, once thought to be something of a
paranormal legend spoken of by those on the fringe of mineralogy, has
now been confirmed, and it's sending shockwaves throughout the field.
Already those involved in researching the mineral, which came from the
Havero meteorite, are attempting to find ways to explain the formation
of such a material. With the absolute melting point of diamond finally
discovered early in 2010, understanding of the "unbreakable" material
is only just now beginning. And as soon as it was beginning to look
like someone would finally put a crack in the shell of this mystery,
another material even harder than diamond appears.

The Mohs scale of hardness rates minerals discovered on a scale of 1 to
10, in which the softest minerals are labeled as a 1 and the hardest
mineral, diamond, is a 10. Until recently the Mohs scale was everything
required to describe naturally occurring minerals. With this new
discovery, the Mohs scale will no doubt have to be modified or replaced
by a new scale that makes room for the incredibly hard new material.
Unfortunately, since the sample of the material is so small, it will be
impossible to test if it is harder than the man-made ultra-hard diamonds
such as Ionsdaleite, and Boron-nitrade.

It's suspected that the thus far unnamed material was made through a
process similar to synthetic diamond creation while in the depths of
space. Of course this is yet another reminder to scientists that
longtime considered constants in the fields of mineralogy may be
completely different in space. If the hard nature of diamond in its
natural environment is suddenly no longer a universal constant, but
rather a mere comparison to other Earthly materials, then it's clear
that other laws may be different as well. With different gravitational
pulls, temperatures, and other factors, there's no telling what other
surprises may be out there. And from the looks of it, we needn't look
further than our own planet to find these mysteries literally falling
from the skies and landing all around us.

So where did this material come from? Is the environment it was formed
in the type of environment that would create other discoveries to turn
the scientific field on its head? As the researchers set out to
discover what this new material tells us about the universe, only time
will tell us how little we truly know about even the physical
observable universe.

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