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Mmmm...diamonds
January 19, 2010 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Oceans of liquid diamond, filled with solid diamond icebergs, could be floating on Neptune and Uranus, according to a recent article in the journal Nature Physics. The research, based on the first detailed measurements of the melting point of diamond, found diamond behaves like water during freezing and melting, with solid forms floating atop liquid forms.
posted by billysumday (96 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whoa. Let's hope there's nobody there to invade.
posted by brundlefly at 1:19 PM on January 19, 2010


Not to be picky, but since diamond is the crystalline form I think these would be oceans of carbon with diamondbergs floating in them. Once you melt the diamond it's not diamond any more, just as melted ice is no longer ice.
posted by localroger at 1:20 PM on January 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


But what are the polar bears made out of?
posted by fnerg at 1:20 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Has DeBeers called dibs yet?
posted by Daddy-O at 1:22 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


And this sets the stage for decades of back-room deals resulting in the planets being renamed DeBeers I and II.

Or maybe this will be enough head-way for DeBeers to start their "Neptunian and Uranusian diamonds lack the True Sparkle™ of diamonds from Earth."

Not to be picky, but since diamond is the crystalline form I think these would be oceans of carbon with diamondbergs floating in them. Once you melt the diamond it's not diamond any more, just as melted ice is no longer ice.

Enough with the science talk: do they sparkle?
posted by filthy light thief at 1:22 PM on January 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Daddy-O, darn your quick snark!
posted by filthy light thief at 1:23 PM on January 19, 2010


localroger, i love ya, but at 0.60 - 1.something TeraPascals and 50,000K+ things get CRAZY! :-)

http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/v6/n1/full/nphys1438.html
posted by nutate at 1:24 PM on January 19, 2010


fnerg: "But what are the polar bears made out of?"

Or their doomed ocean liners, for that matter.
posted by brundlefly at 1:26 PM on January 19, 2010


Sonic Youth was right. Men are not alone on the diamond sea. Because the diamond sea is on Neptune.
posted by demonic winged headgear at 1:28 PM on January 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Isn't localroger correct? Liquid diamond doesn't make sense unless you redefine what a diamond is. The liquid carbon can't have a lattice structure. I guess under these pressures it solidifies into diamond, but the liquid is just carbon.
posted by bhnyc at 1:29 PM on January 19, 2010


Space champagne.
posted by gatsby died at 1:30 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, we can extend the artificially inflated price of diamonds for millennia now!

...it is kind of cool though.
posted by knapah at 1:30 PM on January 19, 2010


bhnyc... bro, I'm a materials science PhD student. At those high pressures and temperatures you have to throw out what you know about the phase diagram of carbon that we're used to on earth.

"I wonder how he's gonna make her smile
when love is running wild on the diamond sea "
posted by nutate at 1:31 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I bet Neptune's diamond oceans already have sharks with frickin ruby lasers and platinum teeth. Oh the Neptunanity.
posted by Babblesort at 1:33 PM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


All of you dream too big. I'm not going to get excited about this until somebody hands me my slice of moon cheese.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:37 PM on January 19, 2010


Needs more of this (this is also nice).
posted by mullingitover at 1:39 PM on January 19, 2010


nutate you are my favorite kind of motion.
posted by boo_radley at 1:40 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Future generations are gonna buy huge diamond wedding rings for, like, $50. Fuck you, future generations.
posted by naju at 1:40 PM on January 19, 2010


Let me just clarify a bit more, from the last sentence in the paper: "In such warmer conditions [aka those on Neptune], pure carbon would exist in the liquid metallic state, settling out of the mantle to form a fluid outer core that helps sustain the planetary magnetic field."

So it's not a (liquid) diamond, as a diamond require long-range crystal order (as in two interleaved FCC lattices), but it is a liquid metallic carbon that we don't see on earth. It is though what diamond melts into at those temperatures and pressures.

For other cool stuff see studies of Ice X (ten) that may exist on pluto. Supposedly that conducts by ionic hydrogen transport. Woah!
posted by nutate at 1:41 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


More precious than pearl jam.
posted by hermitosis at 1:42 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


bhnyc... bro, I'm a materials science PhD student. At those high pressures and temperatures you have to throw out what you know about the phase diagram of carbon that we're used to on earth.

Fine, but even if it's some kind of planet-wide morphous crystal, can it be called diamond? Heating sugar doesn't break it down into carbon, but it's not sugar anymore, either. It's caramel or syrup.
posted by cmoj at 1:43 PM on January 19, 2010


So how would you tell the difference between ultra-high pressure "liquid" diamond and, say "liquid" graphite?

Or is that what they're trying to figure out here?
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:44 PM on January 19, 2010


Dammit. Never mind.
posted by cmoj at 1:44 PM on January 19, 2010


Now all we need are some giant blue cat people, and we'd really have something.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:45 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


nutate Will you make an FPP about this stuff?
posted by cmoj at 1:45 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Screw the diamonds... what on earth are they using to contain 1 billion psi in the lab?
posted by crapmatic at 1:48 PM on January 19, 2010


We can call it whatever we want. I nominate oddmanite.
posted by oddman at 1:49 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


He said Uranus. Tee hee!
posted by Skot at 1:49 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, this is so cool -- especially the part about (solid) diamond floating. If I recall correctly, life couldn't have formed in the oceans on earth if ice didn't have the same peculiar quality.
posted by treepour at 1:51 PM on January 19, 2010


For other cool stuff see studies of Ice X (ten) that may exist on pluto. Supposedly that conducts by ionic hydrogen transport. Woah!

That's better than Ice Nine, all that does is freeze the entire planet.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:54 PM on January 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Fine, but even if it's some kind of planet-wide morphous crystal, can it be called diamond? Heating sugar doesn't break it down into carbon, but it's not sugar anymore, either. It's caramel or syrup.

Diamonds are good and all, but we're talking diamond caramel now?? Best Milky Ways ever.
posted by artychoke at 1:54 PM on January 19, 2010


Diamonds are good and all, but we're talking diamond caramel now?? Best Milky Ways ever.

Hard on the teeth, though.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:58 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


And to think of all the time and money I've spent these past few years investing in blood diamonds!
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:00 PM on January 19, 2010



Screw the diamonds... what on earth are they using to contain 1 billion psi in the lab?

First you must accept nature's harmonic simultaneous 4-day time cube.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 2:01 PM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


naju: "Future generations are gonna buy huge diamond wedding rings for, like, $50. Fuck you, future generations."

Forget rings, I just want a really really really sharp kitchen knife. Several of them. Oh, and I'll switch to glass cutting boards and take revenge on them for all the steel knives those evil things have ruined over the years.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:03 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Margaret Cavendish wrote a book about being Empress of this place, I think:

Her Accoustrement after she was made Empress, was as followeth: On her head she wore a Cap of Pearl, and a Half-moon of Diamonds just before it; on the top of her Crown came spreading over a broad Carbuncle, cut in the form of the Sun; her Coat was of Pearl, mixt with blew Diamonds, and frindged with red ones; her Buskins and Sandals were of green Diamonds; In her left hand she held a Buckler, to signifie the Defence of her Dominions; which Buckler was made of that sort of Diamond as has several different Colours; and being cut and made in the form of an Arch, shewed like a Rain-bow; In her right hand she carried a Spear made of white Diamond, cut like the tail of a Blazing Star, which signified that she was ready to assault those that proved her Enemies.
posted by bewilderbeast at 2:04 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I finally know what I want for my birthday: A hollowed-out diamond fortress on the seas of Neptune. It's so simple in retrospect.
posted by The Whelk at 2:08 PM on January 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is nothing, I mean we got those diamond mountains here at earth, as well. I saw this documentary once about a rag-tag bunch made up of a couple of geologists, an astronaut and a scientist/hermit and they built this "spaceship" out of unobtanium and then they went to the center of the Earth, right? (I forget why, but it was important.) And when they were en route to the center they crashed right into this giant... bubble, I think and in that bubble there were mountains made out of diamonds. Unfortunately their "spaceship" crashed on the way back and the scientist guy died otherwise I think we really had a chance to harvest those diamonds. Oh well, maybe sometime in the future.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 2:08 PM on January 19, 2010


cmoj: someday i will make a fpp about materials science on metafilter, but i've been lurking on this site before the dot-com boom and bust... and only recently dropped the dough to participate... but yeah, it would just be confusing and weird if I did do an FPP.

I work in a simulations group, so this sort of stuff is interesting. These experiments are amazing since most high-pressure work uses diamonds to literally be the anvils, etc.

But yeah... I dunno, science journalism is responsible for getting me interested in science, but it can also lead to some confusion.
posted by nutate at 2:10 PM on January 19, 2010


Diamonds in Urectum, you say?
posted by Mister_A at 2:11 PM on January 19, 2010


DIAMOND OCEANS ARE CARBON! DIAMOND OCEANS ARE MADE OF CARBON!

/silly Chuck Heston run.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:12 PM on January 19, 2010


I can't be the only one imagining you speaking with Arnolds' accent here, and thinking this is all just the viral marketing for his next movie sequel job when he is done governating..

pure (Pewah) carbon (Cahbon) would (woUd) exist (etc.) in the liquid metallic state, settling out of the mantle to form a fluid outer core that helps sustain the planetary magnetic field."

So it's not a (liquid) diamond, as a diamond require long-range crystal order (as in two interleaved FCC lattices), but it is a liquid metallic carbon that we don't see on earth. It is, though what diamond melts into at those temperatures and pressures.

Ok, Maybe I am the only one... awesome stuff here though, thank you for sharing!
posted by infinite intimation at 2:13 PM on January 19, 2010


Sonic Youth was right. Men are not alone on the diamond sea. Because the diamond sea is on Neptune.

And Neptune is so full of ... who again? Anyway, if it's men (in the plural of man) on the diamond sea, of course they're not alone. Unless there are a lot of men scattered around a vast sea of diamond. Even if there is low visibility due to the hazy atmosphere of diamond particulates (which would really do a number on the longevity of whatever ocean-going crafty those men are on, not to mention the soft bits of those men), they still would have company, however distant and unseen.

In short: Sonic Youth make no sense.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:13 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would diamond ice-cubes ruin the taste of scotch?
posted by oddman at 2:16 PM on January 19, 2010


"An ocean of diamond could help explain the orientation of Uranus."

I reiterate, if scientists ever want to be taken seriously, we've got to rename that planet.
posted by etc. at 2:17 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was totally waiting for someone to bring up phase diagrams....MetaFilter, you rarely disappoint!
posted by Go Banana at 2:17 PM on January 19, 2010


When Jupiter explodes this year huge chunks of diamonds are gonna land on Europa.

This might present a problem.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:21 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT URANUS. THAT'S WHERE WE KEEP OUR BLING.
posted by brundlefly at 2:25 PM on January 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


Let's just hope huge chunks of diamonds don't explode out of Uranus.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:25 PM on January 19, 2010


Sal and Ethel Diamondberg of Boca Raton would like these scientists to stop pestering them, for crying out loud, haven't they got better things to do?
posted by 7-7 at 2:27 PM on January 19, 2010


Somebody asked me one time: "What is chewing water?"

I'm like, "it, uh, it's ice, as we used to call it, but same difference." (man, it's better than cold coffee, I'll tell you that).
posted by finite at 2:28 PM on January 19, 2010


Whalers on the moons of Saturn, miners on Neptune... what's next?
posted by blue_beetle at 2:32 PM on January 19, 2010


Shirley Bassey was telling me just the other day that carbon is forever.
posted by GuyZero at 2:32 PM on January 19, 2010


I'm curious how they managed to accurately measure the temperature at those pressures, ordinary thermocouples turn into semiconductors.

And, no, the answer is not Johnson Noise Thermometry
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:38 PM on January 19, 2010


Screw the diamonds... what on earth are they using to contain 1 billion psi in the lab?

"Think force-fields."
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on January 19, 2010


I hope we discover that life's just everywhere, and Neptune is plied by creatures that swim through liquid diamond.
posted by lucidium at 2:45 PM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Where else would you hide diamonds?
posted by electroboy at 2:47 PM on January 19, 2010


Screw the diamonds... what on earth are they using to contain 1 billion psi in the lab?

Your anus?
posted by fuq at 2:50 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


What time is the next ship to Neptune? Should I pack a sponge or a pick?
posted by Cranberry at 2:51 PM on January 19, 2010


Just goes to show how solidist our society has been. Shame on us.
posted by Danf at 2:52 PM on January 19, 2010


Wow. Diamonds even bigger than the Ritz.
posted by bz at 2:54 PM on January 19, 2010


Not to be picky, but since diamond is the crystalline form I think these would be oceans of carbon with diamondbergs floating in them. Once you melt the diamond it's not diamond any more, just as melted ice is no longer ice.

Er, there are plenty of Liquid Crystals. Water itself has an internal structure due to the polarity of molecule.

Anyway we're never going to actually get those diamonds and bring them back to earth, of course, because of the huge gravity well.
posted by delmoi at 2:57 PM on January 19, 2010


I reiterate, if scientists ever want to be taken seriously, we've got to rename that planet.

To Urectum?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:10 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK, the phrase "metalic carbon" and "liquid diamond" made me remember why I have a general loathing for Discover magazine.

Here's a bit more about metalic carbon (metalic in terms of its conductivity).
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:21 PM on January 19, 2010


Future generations are gonna buy huge diamond wedding rings for, like, $50. Fuck you, future generations.
posted by naju at 3:40 PM on January 19


Yet somehow people with engagement ring questions on Ask Metafilter would still get hassled about being brainwashed by the DeBeers-NASA cartel.
posted by nanojath at 3:26 PM on January 19, 2010


And another thing ... the picture with the article shows a faceted stone. Diamonds don't look like that naturally. Check out what diamondbergs are more likely to look like here. Diamond crystals tend to be octahedral if their shape is determined by cleavage, or cubic if by crystal growth. At least under the conditions where they form on Earth they don't like to grow optically flat polished surfaces (like, say, quartz crystals do). Of course the oceans of Neptune might be infested with mad gem polishers...

And if it doesn't have a tetrahedral crystal lattice, which pretty much forces it to be solid, it's not a diamond. That is the definition of the word diamond. It's why graphite and amorphous carbon aren't diamond and it's why any other wonky forms of carbon that don't have a macroscopic tetrahedral crystal lattice structure aren't diamonds too.
posted by localroger at 3:28 PM on January 19, 2010


Are they implying that these diamonds could be mined in the future? Assuming space travel becomes more accessible and less costly, I would think that mining two planets worth of diamonds would be a terrible idea for the diamond market here.
posted by emilyd22222 at 3:33 PM on January 19, 2010


Future generations are gonna buy huge diamond wedding rings for, like, $50. Fuck you, future generations.
posted by naju at 3:40 PM on January 19


So that's $50 for the diamond, plus $200 million for the 7 day FedEx interplanetary shipping rate.
posted by Electric Dragon at 3:34 PM on January 19, 2010


Did I write tetrahedral instead of cubic up there? Crap.
posted by localroger at 3:37 PM on January 19, 2010


emilyd22222, don't worry. If you think the environmentalists are making a stink about mountaintop removal today, just wait until they realize the only way to get the diamonds is to blow up Neptune.
posted by localroger at 3:39 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Future generations are gonna buy huge diamond wedding rings for, like, $50.

in 2061:Odyssey Three, a planet made of diamonds was discovered and it became a common building material and for construction of space elevators.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:58 PM on January 19, 2010


Looking over the linked Wikipedia entry, I find that the idea of Uranus, Neptune and Jupiter containing large quantities of diamonds was proposed back in 1981.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:02 PM on January 19, 2010


To Urectum?

No. Urethra.
posted by flabdablet at 4:07 PM on January 19, 2010


Mining them makes for cool science fiction, but we'll likely just be able to grow them to any size we want long before we figure out how to get them out of that gravity well.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:27 PM on January 19, 2010


Put on your 3-D glasses and you have Pandora, filled with blue people and blue diamonds and a rain forest to scoot about, riding a creature from the San Diego Zoo.
posted by Postroad at 4:32 PM on January 19, 2010


So former Blue Collar Comedy Tour comedy Ron White will have to change his line (ragging on the De Beers cartel marketing scam) to, "Diamonds from Neptune. That'll really shut her up."
posted by fuse theorem at 4:41 PM on January 19, 2010


Oh great and with no warnings I bet a lot of you have already attempted landings there.
posted by DU at 5:01 PM on January 19, 2010


I want a diamond, I really do
posted by The Whelk at 5:06 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was hoping that bumper sticker wouldn't come true:

EARTH FIRST. We'll mine the other planets later.
posted by yoga at 5:10 PM on January 19, 2010


Uranus, a girl's best friend.
posted by Evilspork at 5:37 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Has DeBeers called dibs yet?

"To think of these stars that you see overhead at night, these vast worlds which we can never reach. I would annex the planets if I could; I often think of that. It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far." -Cecil Rhodes
posted by stammer at 5:48 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not to be picky, but since diamond is the crystalline form I think these would be oceans of carbon with diamondbergs floating in them. Once you melt the diamond it's not diamond any more, just as melted ice is no longer ice.

THey address that in the article: "Diamond is an incredibly hard material. That alone makes it difficult to melt. But diamond has another quality that makes it even harder to measure its melting point. Diamond doesn't like to stay diamond when it gets hot. When diamond is heated to extreme temperatures it physically changes, from diamond to graphite.

The graphite, and not the diamond, then melts into a liquid. The trick for the scientists was to heat the diamond up while simultaneously stopping it from transforming into graphite."

So, it isn't just generic carbon, at least... there's a difference at extreme pressures that maintains something akin to diamonds.

Future generations are gonna buy huge diamond wedding rings for, like, $50. Fuck you, future generations.

Perhaps, but cultural shifts would have to take place, not just economic ones. Part of the very point of a wedding ring, while perhaps not explicit, is that it is expensive. In late 19th century, aluminum was a rare metal, and expensive rings were made of it, like platinum today. Once it became easy to mine and was used for ordinary kitchen foil, no one bought those rings anymore. So if diamonds became cheap, either some other stone / metal would take over, or we'd turn to fancy designers who charge ridiculous prices even while working with easy to obtain materials, or - well, we'd figure something out.
posted by mdn at 6:51 PM on January 19, 2010


localroger, regarding cubic or tetrahedral, etc... the sp3 hibridized orbitals of Carbon in diamond make tetragonal bonds. But the crystal lattice is Diamond Cubic (DC), based off of the Face Centered Cubic (FCC) Bravais lattice. Most people become pedants regarding Cubic (meaning Simple Cubic (SC)) after spending a fair amount of time wrapping their head around crystallography.

But like you said, any diamond sea would be by nature non-crystalline. Perhaps more interesting would be to ask if it would be transparent. I feel like no, but I have no immediate smart thing to say to back that up.
posted by nutate at 7:04 PM on January 19, 2010


mdn, they do not "address" that in the article. It would be more accurate to say that they "fail to get it" in the article. When you melt it it isn't diamond any more. Melting it is a way cool trick but the fact that you managed to do it doesn't make the melt diamond. It makes it something newer, cooler in every way, and wonderful, but NOT DIAMOND.

And as for wedding rings, diamond would be common as dirt if not for the deBeers monopoly. They have so far managed to sew up all the new alternative sources that have ever appeared, but they appear to be quaking in their boots (and perhaps with murderous intent) at the possibility of fine diamonds being grown the way we grow huge silicon crystals for semiconductor manufacture.

You did know diamond is a semiconductor, right? Same aisle of the Periodic Table as silicon. And much tougher. But to use it you have to be able to grow large pure crystals.

I don't think the deBeers people would like that much.
posted by localroger at 7:04 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, nutate, it's been awhile since I was swimming in the gemstone sea. I tend to keep the important facts like "don't buy diamonds" while forgetting exactly how it is that plagioclase feldspars create the wonderful colors they do.
posted by localroger at 7:07 PM on January 19, 2010


nutate: they said the sea would be metallic carbon. That means it would be opaque, like a sea of mercury. I'm not sure whether that reduces or enhances the coolness of diamondbergs floating in it.
posted by localroger at 7:10 PM on January 19, 2010


localroger, the point I was trying to make was that there is a distinction between diamond and graphite, so to claim it "would just be a sea of carbon" is misleading. Whether liquid diamond is still diamond in common parlance may be arguable, but on a chemical level it is a question of the structure of atomic bonds, and since inorganic carbon is usually either graphite or diamond (though I think there have been artificially created alternative bonding structures produced), then presumably the bonds here are equivalent to the atomic structure of diamonds, but at this temperature and pressure it is liquified (or partly liquified, since there are 'glaciers' floating throughout...). As pointed out above, liquid crystal is a state of matter.
posted by mdn at 8:22 PM on January 19, 2010


"And as for wedding rings, diamond would be common as dirt if not for the deBeers monopoly. They have so far managed to sew up all the new alternative sources that have ever appeared, but they appear to be quaking in their boots (and perhaps with murderous intent) at the possibility of fine diamonds being grown the way we grow huge silicon crystals for semiconductor manufacture."

Ditto
posted by eltopo at 9:22 PM on January 19, 2010


Can we all just agree that these are diamondbergs floating in an ocean of awesome?
posted by brundlefly at 9:40 PM on January 19, 2010


In case you wanted to try burning a diamond at home....

or watch a Nova special on the making of diamonds in a factory.

It is really a shame that the diamond jewelry industry monopolies have kept prices artificially high because diamonds have such unique and wonderful properties.

We could be using diamonds everywhere, all over our house. Maybe that day is coming, without having to go flying off to Neptune.
posted by eye of newt at 9:51 PM on January 19, 2010


Hmmm - I see we are back to 1987 all over again - man, do I feel old:

On 13 February 2004 astronomers at Harvard announced the discovery of BPM 37093, a celestial object which appears to be a carbon star. Carbon being the element diamonds are composed of, they whimsically named it Lucy, likely in reference to Arthur C. Clarke's 2061: Odyssey Three (1987), which speculates that the core of Jupiter may be an Earth-sized diamond, formed by carbon sedimenting from the outer layers (and when a mountain-sized chunk of diamond appears on Jupiter's moon Europa, Clarke's characters use the codeword "Lucy" to communicate the discovery).
posted by jkaczor at 11:08 PM on January 19, 2010


I've always thought diamonds and the diamond industry was twisted. Humans are so ridiculous...wanting to wear something that is rare...and now entire planets may be riddled with diamonds and people keep purchasing diamonds even though lives are lost for their procurement.

Oh...and scientifically speaking...pretty cool.
posted by gypseefire at 11:09 PM on January 19, 2010


What good does a ton of diamonds on Uranus do us? Pluto could be made of gold and it wouldn't help us. 2.5 billion miles away is a lot of ground to cover and without a millennium falcon to get us there I'm sorry but we are stuck here with our boring earth diamonds.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:23 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suspect the the two gravity wells are more of a problem than the intervening space, with the later one being the biggest problem.
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on January 20, 2010


The thing that made aluminium so expensive wasn't mining it. The expensive part was refining it, and Edison and Tesla made those problems go away.

But I don't think that DeBeers really has much to worry about. Their bread-and-butter is the wedding-industrial complex, which is an entire industry built on selling mostly-useless crap for the purpose of conspicuous consumption. People would buy $10,000 rings made of aluminum foil if some creative genius sold it as the next marker of economic sacrifice in the name of true love.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:13 PM on January 21, 2010


Re "molten diamond": This news bit made me spend a while the other day looking for papers, both theoretical and experimental, on the phase diagram of carbon at these pressures. They all only show one liquid phase — certainly only one liquid phase near the pressures that Neptune might have. I think "molten diamond" is pretty much a pop-science misnomer. Molten carbon, yes (which can't exist under reasonable conditions, so it's still neat).

Diamond as a semiconductor is interesting, because it's also an excellent conductor of heat. You can already buy silicon-on-diamond wafers commercially. I gather doped-diamond semiconductors are still a ways off though.

Back to extraterrestrial diamonds, there's a theory that some terrestrial diamonds (carbonado diamonds) may actually have been formed extraterestrially, in supernovas, and reached Earth much more recently. For some reason I am very fond of this notion.
posted by hattifattener at 10:47 PM on January 22, 2010


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