In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

droppingthephysics:

Both diamonds and pencil lead (or more accurately, pencil graphite) are composed entirely of carbon. They are chemically identical! The differences are in their physical structures. Carbon atoms in diamonds have strong bonds with each other, whereas carbon atoms in pencil graphite form weakly bonded layers which makes graphite brittle.

Although diamonds are the hardest natural material, they are thermodynamically unstable and will, over a very long duration, decay into pencil graphite. Diamonds are not forever!

sciencesoup:

A Diamond in the Flame
The candle was invented over 2,000 years ago in China, but for a long time no one quite understood what secrets the flames held—scientists knew that hydrocarbon molecules exist at the base of the flame, and are converted into carbon dioxide by the time they reach the top, but they didn’t understand the exact process. ‘You have the glittering beauty of gold and silver, and the still higher lustre of jewels, like the ruby and diamond,’ Michael Faraday wrote in 1860, addressing light, ‘but none of these rival the brilliancy and beauty of flame. What diamond can shine like flame?’ Well, according to research at the University of St Andrews, a flame actually shines like a diamond. Professor of Chemistry Wuzong Zhou recently discovered that a burning candle flame creates diamond nanoparticles at a rate of 1.5 million per second. Dr Zhou used a sampling technique he invented himself to remove particles from the centre of the flame, and upon analysis, he found the flame contained all four known forms of carbons. This was strange, since each of them are usually created under different conditions, but he realised this meant something amazing: the hydrocarbon molecules were being turned into tiny diamonds. The diamonds burn up in the process and are released as carbon dioxide, and there are currently no ways to extract them, but Zhou’s research could prove useful for future research into green, economic diamond production. It’s a tantalising discovery—light a candle, and you can watch millions and millions of tiny, glittering diamonds wink in and out of existence.

sciencesoup:

A Diamond in the Flame

The candle was invented over 2,000 years ago in China, but for a long time no one quite understood what secrets the flames held—scientists knew that hydrocarbon molecules exist at the base of the flame, and are converted into carbon dioxide by the time they reach the top, but they didn’t understand the exact process. ‘You have the glittering beauty of gold and silver, and the still higher lustre of jewels, like the ruby and diamond,’ Michael Faraday wrote in 1860, addressing light, ‘but none of these rival the brilliancy and beauty of flame. What diamond can shine like flame?’ Well, according to research at the University of St Andrews, a flame actually shines like a diamond. Professor of Chemistry Wuzong Zhou recently discovered that a burning candle flame creates diamond nanoparticles at a rate of 1.5 million per second. Dr Zhou used a sampling technique he invented himself to remove particles from the centre of the flame, and upon analysis, he found the flame contained all four known forms of carbons. This was strange, since each of them are usually created under different conditions, but he realised this meant something amazing: the hydrocarbon molecules were being turned into tiny diamonds. The diamonds burn up in the process and are released as carbon dioxide, and there are currently no ways to extract them, but Zhou’s research could prove useful for future research into green, economic diamond production. It’s a tantalising discovery—light a candle, and you can watch millions and millions of tiny, glittering diamonds wink in and out of existence.

Dirty Diamonds

stfuhypocrisy:

smirkingbenevolence:

widdershinsgirl:

organismal:

Ten Reasons Why You Should Never Accept a Diamond Ring from Anyone, Under Any Circumstances, Even If They Really Want to Give You One

lostgrrrls:

mohandasgandhi:

frombaghdadwithlove:

machistado:

1. You’ve Been Psychologically Conditioned To Want a Diamond
The diamond engagement ring is a 63-year-old invention of N.W.Ayer advertising agency. The De Beers diamond cartel contracted N.W.Ayer to create a demand for what are, essentially, useless hunks of rock.

2. Diamonds are Priced Well Above Their Value
The De Beers cartel has systematically held diamond prices at levels far greater than their abundance would generate under anything even remotely resembling perfect competition. All diamonds not already under its control are bought by the cartel, and then the De Beers cartel carefully managed world diamond supply in order to keep prices steadily high.

3. Diamonds Have No Resale or Investment Value
Any diamond that you buy or receive will indeed be yours forever: De Beers™ advertising deliberately brain-washed women not to sell; the steady price is a tool to prevent speculation in diamonds; and no dealer will buy a diamond from you. You can only sell it at a diamond purchasing center or a pawn shop where you will receive a tiny fraction of its original “value.”

4. Diamond Miners are Disproportionately Exposed to HIV/AIDS
Many diamond mining camps enforce all-male, no-family rules. Men contract HIV/AIDS from camp sex-workers, while women married to miners have no access to employment, no income outside of their husbands and no bargaining power for negotiating safe sex, and thus are at extremely high risk of contracting HIV.

5. Open-Pit Diamond Mines Pose Environmental Threats
Diamond mines are open pits where salts, heavy minerals, organisms, oil, and chemicals from mining equipment freely leach into ground-water, endangering people in nearby mining camps and villages, as well as downstream plants and animals.

6. Diamond Mine-Owners Violate Indigenous People’s Rights
Diamond mines in Australia, Canada, India and many countries in Africa are situated on lands traditionally associated with indigenous peoples. Many of these communities have been displaced, while others remain, often at great cost to their health, livelihoods and traditional cultures.

7. Slave Laborers Cut and Polish Diamonds
More than one-half of the world’s diamonds are processed in India where many of the cutters and polishers are bonded child laborers. Bonded children work to pay off the debts of their relatives, often unsuccessfully. When they reach adulthood their debt is passed on to their younger siblings or to their own children.

8. Conflict Diamonds Fund Civil Wars in Africa
There is no reliable way to insure that your diamond was not mined or stolen by government or rebel military forces in order to finance civil conflict. Conflict diamonds are traded either for guns or for cash to pay and feed soldiers.

9. Diamond Wars are Fought Using Child Warriors
Many diamond producing governments and rebel forces use children as soldiers, laborers in military camps, and sex slaves. Child soldiers are given drugs to overcome their fear and reluctance to participate in atrocities.

10. Small Arms Trade is Intimately Related to Diamond Smuggling
Illicit diamonds inflame the clandestine trade of small arms. There are 500 billion small arms in the world today which are used to kill 500,000 people annually, the vast majority of whom are non-combatants.

Diamonds are the worst.

My mother is actually disappointed in me for not wanting a diamond ring. 

All of my relatives think there’s something wrong with me and that I’m being “selfish.” Selfish.

I’ve posted this before, but posting again as a reminder.

And gold? Also pretty terrible.

My engagement ring is a moonstone. As a witch, moonstone is something that means a great deal to me, so it’s WAY better than a diamond.

The only diamond ring we have is a family heirloom my mom gave me.

I am an amateur geologist and mineralogist as is my father, and we are both what are colloquially known as ‘rockhounds’. Basically we’re overgrown kids who putter around in old quarries and road cuts for rock, fossil and mineral samples.

In addition to spending my formative years surrounded by rocks, minerals, and fossils I spent several years working in the jewelry industry for two local jewelers.

DeBeers is an illegal monopoly that has inflated the value of a geologically fascinating and industrially useful mineral to untold heights. DeBeers, who factor literally 80% of the jewelry grade diamond, has on hand at any point enough product to GIVE every person and child on the planet a one carat of larger VSI diamond with good color.

DeBeers has spent an awful lot of time and money on their campaign to distance themselves from Conflict Diamonds, but the truth of the matter is that they cannot account for the provenance of most of their stones. Even the one’s that are produced from their own mines are produced under some truly awful working conditions.

There is no such thing as an ‘ethical’ diamond (except maybe for the world’s only open to the public diamond mine in Murfreesboro, Arkansas which is low producing and kinda a fun tourist trap) Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to assuage your guilt in order to sell you something.

So glad I’ve never been a big jewelry girl and stuck to costume stuff. This is awful. 

(Source: rubyvroom)

jtotheizzoe:

Cosmic Bling: Astronomers Find Planet Made of Diamond

“The planet is relatively small at around 60,000 km in diameter (still, it’s five times the size of Earth). But despite its diminutive stature, this crystal space rock has more mass than the solar system’s gas giant Jupiter.
 Radio telescope data shows that it orbits its star at a distance of 600,000 km, making years on planet diamond just two hours long. Any closer and it would be ripped to shreds by the star’s gravitational tug.”

(via Wired Science)

jtotheizzoe:

Cosmic Bling: Astronomers Find Planet Made of Diamond

“The planet is relatively small at around 60,000 km in diameter (still, it’s five times the size of Earth). But despite its diminutive stature, this crystal space rock has more mass than the solar system’s gas giant Jupiter.

Radio telescope data shows that it orbits its star at a distance of 600,000 km, making years on planet diamond just two hours long. Any closer and it would be ripped to shreds by the star’s gravitational tug.”

(via Wired Science)

cwnl:

Flawed Diamonds Could Store Quantum Data

Scientists have developed a new way to manipulate atoms inside diamond crystals so that they store information long enough to function as quantum memory, which encodes information not as the 0s and 1s crunched by conventional computers but in states that are both 0 and 1 at the same time. Physicists use such quantum data to send information securely, and hope to eventually build quantum computers capable of solving problems beyond the reach of today’s technology.

For those developing this quantum memory, the perfect diamonds don’t come from Tiffany & Co. — or Harry Winston, for that matter. Impurities are the key to the technology.

“Oddly enough, perfection may not be the way to go,” said David Awschalom of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “We want to build in defects.”

One of the most common defects in diamond is nitrogen, which turns the stone yellow. When a nitrogen atom sits next to a vacant spot in the carbon crystal, the intruding element provides an extra electron that moves into the hole. Several years ago, scientists learned how to change the spin of such electrons using microwave energy and put them to work as quantum bits, or qubits.

In search of a more stable way to store quantum information, Awschalom has now figured out how to link the spin of a electron to the spin of the nearby nitrogen’s nucleus. This transfer, triggered by magnetic fields, is fast — about 100 nanoseconds, comparable to how long it takes to store information on a stick of RAM.

Come to me, quantum diamond computer!

cwnl:

Flawed Diamonds Could Store Quantum Data

Scientists have developed a new way to manipulate atoms inside diamond crystals so that they store information long enough to function as quantum memory, which encodes information not as the 0s and 1s crunched by conventional computers but in states that are both 0 and 1 at the same time. Physicists use such quantum data to send information securely, and hope to eventually build quantum computers capable of solving problems beyond the reach of today’s technology.

For those developing this quantum memory, the perfect diamonds don’t come from Tiffany & Co. — or Harry Winston, for that matter. Impurities are the key to the technology.

“Oddly enough, perfection may not be the way to go,” said David Awschalom of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “We want to build in defects.”

One of the most common defects in diamond is nitrogen, which turns the stone yellow. When a nitrogen atom sits next to a vacant spot in the carbon crystal, the intruding element provides an extra electron that moves into the hole. Several years ago, scientists learned how to change the spin of such electrons using microwave energy and put them to work as quantum bits, or qubits.

In search of a more stable way to store quantum information, Awschalom has now figured out how to link the spin of a electron to the spin of the nearby nitrogen’s nucleus. This transfer, triggered by magnetic fields, is fast — about 100 nanoseconds, comparable to how long it takes to store information on a stick of RAM.

Come to me, quantum diamond computer!