Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Quadrillion Tons of Diamonds Lie Unreachable 100 Miles Below the Earth's Surface, Study Suggests

A quadrillion tons of diamonds lie 100 miles below the earth's surface, spread across vast rock formations called "cratons," according to a study published by a team of researchers from MIT, Harvard, the University of California at Berkeley and other top-tier institutions.

The scientists made their discovery while studying the deepest parts of the Earth using sound waves. Apparently these waves move at differing speeds, depending on the temperature, density and composition of the material they travel through.

The researchers found that the sound waves moved much faster than expected when passing through the bottom of cratons, which the scientists described as underground rock formations that resemble inverted mountains.

After conducting a series of experiments to try to simulate the results in a lab, the researchers concluded that rocks containing 1-2% diamond were the only ones that could duplicate the sound wave velocities achieved in the cratons.

“It’s circumstantial evidence, but we’ve pieced it all together,” said study co-author Ulrich Faul, a research scientist in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “We went through all the different possibilities, from every angle, and this is the only one that’s left as a reasonable explanation.”

In the study, which was published in the June edition of the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, the researchers suggested that cratonic roots are 1-2% diamond. When they did the math, that translated into a quadrillion tons of the precious gems. The number quadrillion looks like this... 1,000,000,000,000,000.

While the researchers now believe that there are 1,000 times more diamonds hidden below the Earth's surface than they previously assumed, they were quick to point out that none of the gem crystals are accessible by conventional mining methods.

Diamonds can blast to the surface during volcanic eruptions. The vertical superhighways that take the diamonds on their 100-plus mile journey are called kimberlite pipes.

Credit: Rough diamond exhibited at the Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt, Germany. Photo by User:KS_aus_F (User:KS_aus_F) [GFDL 1.2 or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, July 16, 2018

3.14-Carat Vivid Purplish-Pink Diamond to Headline Argyle's Annual Tender

A 3.14-carat purplish pink diamond known as "The Argyle Alpha" headlines the 2018 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender – an annual showcase of the rarest pink, red and violet diamonds produced by Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine in Western Australia.

The emerald-cut Argyle Alpha has the distinction of being the largest vivid pink diamond ever offered in the Argyle Tender's 34-year history.

The 2018 Tender, which is being billed as “Magnificent Argyle,” comprises 63 diamonds weighing a total of 51.48 carats.

Another notable diamond in this year's collection is "The Argyle Muse," a 2.28-carat oval diamond that displays a vibrant purplish-red hue. Rio Tinto described the diamond as having an "unrivaled potency of color." The Argyle Muse was cut from a 7.39-carat rough diamond that yielded a second, smaller purplish-red diamond, which is also included in this year's Tender.

From 2018's curated collection of 63 diamonds, Rio Tinto selected six “hero” diamonds based on their unique beauty. Each was named and trademarked to ensure there is a permanent record of their contribution to the history of the world’s most important diamonds:

Argyle Alpha™ — 3.14-carat emerald-shaped Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond;
Argyle Muse™ — 2.28-carat oval-shaped Fancy Purplish Red diamond;

Argyle Odyssey™ — 2.08-carat round brilliant-shaped Fancy Intense Pink diamond;

Argyle Alchemy™ — 1.57-carat princess-shaped Fancy Dark Gray-Violet diamond;

Argyle Maestro™ — 1.29-carat square radiant-shaped Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond;

Argyle Mira™ — 1.12-carat radiant-shaped Fancy Red diamond.

"Rio Tinto's Argyle mine is the world's only source of these highly coveted pink, red and violet diamonds, and we expect considerable interest in this year’s collection," noted Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques in a statement. "The combination of strong demand and extremely limited world supply continues to support significant value appreciation for Argyle pink diamonds."

Of all diamonds submitted to the Gemological Institute of America each year, less than 0.02% are predominantly pink.

It is believed that pink and red diamonds get their rich color from a molecular structure distortion that occurs as the diamond crystal forms in the earth’s crust. By contrast, other colored diamonds get their color from trace elements, such as boron (yielding a blue diamond) or nitrogen (yielding yellow), in their chemical composition.

The 2018 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender will be showcased in Sydney, Hong Kong and New York with bids closing on October 10, 2018.

Credits: Images courtesy of Rio Tinto.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Music Friday: Exactly 50 Years Ago, Desmond of 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' Bought a 20-Carat Golden Ring

Exactly 50 years ago this week, Paul McCartney and the Beatles were in a London recording studio bickering about "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," a song from the Beatles' White Album that features Desmond Jones taking a trolley to a jewelry store to buy a "20-carat golden ring." But more on that later.

As the Beatles experimented with their first reggae-inspired song, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" became a production nightmare. The band couldn't agree on the tempo or style that would work best. They spent a great deal of time recording and overdubbing, but after 60 takes, the band members were exhausted and the song still wasn't right. McCartney continued to make adjustments on his own, while the rest of the Beatles — George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon — took a break and continued to listen to McCartney's tweaks that seemed to be going nowhere.

Finally, a frustrated Lennon stormed back into the studio, pushed McCartney aside at the piano and banged out the opening chords of a louder, faster version. That rendition became the fourth track of Side 1 of The Beatles (also known as The White Album), a classic work that would spend 155 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart and sell more than 9.5 million copies in the U.S. alone.

In the part of the song directly associated with our Music Friday theme, McCartney writes about a pushcart vendor named Desmond Jones, who visits a jewelry store to buy a "20-carat golden ring" for Molly, a singer in a band.

Here we wonder out loud if McCartney might have intended to write karat with a "k" instead of carat with a "c." With a "c," McCartney was referring to a 20-carat gem in a gold setting. With a "k," he would be describing a simpler ring — perhaps without a precious stone — made of 20-karat gold.

McCartney became familiar with the phrase "Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on" through an acquaintance, Jimmy Scott-Emuakpor, a Nigerian conga player. Scott filed suit against McCartney claiming he deserved a writer’s credit for the lyric, but Scott and McCartney came to terms out of court and the case was dropped.

Beatles Trivia: In the second verse, McCartney mistakenly sang, "Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face." Clearly, it was intended to be "Molly," but McCartney and the Beatles decided to leave it in.

The Beatles went on to become what many agree is the greatest and most influential act of the rock era. The Beatles are the best-selling band in history, with 178 million certified records in the U.S. and 800 million physical and digital albums worldwide.

We invite you to enjoy the audio track of the Beatles performing “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Performed by The Beatles.

Desmond has a barrow in the market place,
Molly is the singer in a band.
Desmond says to Molly, "Girl, I like your face,"
And Molly says this as she takes him by the hand:

Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.
Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.

Desmond takes a trolley to the jeweler's store,
Buys a twenty carat golden ring.
Takes it back to Molly waiting at the door,
And as he gives it to her she begins to sing:

Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.
Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.

In a couple of years,
They have built a home sweet home.
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones.

Happy ever after in the market place,
Desmond lets the children lend a hand.
Molly stays at home and does her pretty face,
and in the evening she still sings it with the band.

Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.
Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.

In a couple of years,
They have built a home sweet home.
With a couple of kids running in the yard
of Desmond and Molly Jones.

Happy ever after in the market place,
Molly lets the children lend a hand.
Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face,
And in the evening she's a singer with the band.

Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.
Obladi, Oblada, life goes on, bra,
Lala how their life goes on.

And if you want some fun, take obladiblada.

Credit: Image by Parlophone Music Sweden [CC BY 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Here's Compelling Evidence That Mother Nature May Be a World Cup Soccer Fan

We've all witnessed how Mother Nature works in mysterious ways, but who knew she was a World Cup soccer fan?

Just three days prior to the Russian national soccer team's exciting quarterfinal match against Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, Russian mining giant Alrosa discovered a diamond that looks amazingly like a soccer ball.

"Nature creates a variety of bizarre forms, but for the first time we've found a diamond in the shape of a soccer ball," Alrosa general director Sergey Ivanov said in a press release. "We hope that this is a good sign on the eve of the performance of the Russian national team in the quarterfinals.”

Igor Orlov, the governor of the Arkhangelsk region where the diamond was mined, recommended that the diamond be named "Igor Akinfeev" to honor Russia's star goalkeeper, who saved two penalty kicks in Russia's overtime win against Spain.

"It is noteworthy that the diamond was discovered on the eve of the quarterfinals, where our team made its way thanks in part to the brilliant game of Igor Akinfeev," Orlov said.

The host Russian team nearly pulled off a stunning upset in the quarterfinals, but lost to Croatia in a penalty shootout.

The half-carat diamond — which displays a similar shape and black-and-white coloration of a standard soccer ball — was plucked from Alrosa's Karpinskaya-1 pipe in Russia's Arkhangelsk region on Wednesday, July 4.

With more than $5 billion in sales annually, Alrosa has maximized its exposure as one of the main sponsors of the FIFA World Cup 2018™. Prior to the tournament, which will crown a victor this Sunday, the mining company introduced its "football" collection of 32 round polished diamonds. Each diamond weighs 0.3 carats and represents one of the teams of the international tournament. The collection will be sold at an auction in Moscow with the results being announced on July 30.

Headlining the football collection is a special unpolished stone weighing 76.53 carats. Alrosa encouraged fans to name the super-sized diamond via an online contest.

The French national team will challenge the winner of today's match between England and Croatia for the championship on Sunday.

Credits: Diamond photos courtesy of Alrosa. Soccer ball image by By Pumbaa80 (Self-published work by Pumbaa80) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Adventurer Josh Gates Hunts for Ruby Slippers Stolen From Judy Garland Museum

Adventurer Josh Gates investigates the 2005 theft of one of the most iconic pieces of Hollywood memorabilia of all time — the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz — during Tuesday night's episode of "Expedition Unknown" on the Discovery Channel.

Following the biggest lead in more than a decade, Gates dons his scuba gear and dives into an abandoned iron ore pit near Grand Rapids, Minn., with the hopes of finding the elusive slippers.

On August 28, 2005, a pair of ruby slippers that had been on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids were stolen in the dead of night. During Gates' investigation, he discovers that the heist has all the earmarks of an inside job. The alarm on the museum's emergency exit door had been deactivated. The access door to the exhibit area had been left unlocked and the security camera that had been aimed at the ruby slippers was turned off.

Via smoky re-enactments, the viewer learns that the thieves broke the glass of the emergency exit door, strolled into the exhibit hall, smashed the glass enclosure of the display and dashed off with the slippers. It all took less than 45 seconds.

Over the years, there had been rumors that teenage pranksters had stolen the slippers, loaded them into a can and then into a duffle bag. Apparently, they weighted the duffle bag and then dumped it into a flooded mining pit.

Reportedly insured for $1 million, the stolen slippers had been owned by California collector Michael Shaw and were among the five pairs designed by MGM’s chief costume designer Gilbert Adrian for the 1939 blockbuster. Dorothy's ruby slippers have been called “the most famous pair of shoes in the world” and “the Holy Grail of movie memorabilia.”

Recently, one of the remaining pairs was offered for sale by auction house Moments in Time for $6 million. Another pair is undergoing extensive conservation care and will be returning to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History on October 19.

In Grand Rapids, at the Judy Garland Museum, visitors can purchase ruby slipper memorabilia, including a T-shirt with the slogan, “Who Stole The Ruby Slippers?”

Find out if Gates can solve the mystery on tomorrow night's episode of "Expedition Unknown."

Check out the Discovery Channel's two-minute teaser below...

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com; Ruby slippers image via Smithsonian.