Monday, January 25, 2010

Lucy in the Sea with Diamonds

If you think the Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky" is trippy, it's nothing compared to reality, well reality on Neptune and Uranus that is.  So again, this story has nothing to do with neuroscience or even biology, but it's just too friggin cool not to post:—with-diamond-icebergs/?utm_campaign=Feed:+DiscoverBlogs+(Discover+Blogs)
So we all know that diamonds are the hardest natural substance on earth, and it's difficult to imagine such a thing as liquid diamonds, but apparently, the pressure on Uranus and Neptune is so great that there may actually be whole oceans of diamonds with diamond icebergs floating around in them.  Diamonds are made from carbon which is one of the most abundant elements around, usually, carbon in the form of coal or otherwise trapped in rock sits under the earth's surface where it gets exposed to heat and pressure that transforms some of the carbon into the appropriate lattice to make diamonds.  Researchers have shown in a lab (here on earth) that it is possible, under the right conditions of pressure and temperature, to liquify diamonds without causing them to lose their characteristic chemical structure (which would cause them to become graphite).  Since these conditions are achieved naturally on Uranus and Neptune, and since carbon is so abundant, it is possible that these planets may have whole seas of liquid diamond with diamond "icebergs".  

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