Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Diamonds on Uranus the Size of Icebergs!


 Photos: NASA
And Neptune too! Scientists now speculate that Uranus (yes, I'm just going to keep saying "Uranus") has oceans of liquid diamond that may also have solid "icebergs" of diamond floating on the surface. Apparently diamond is quite common in the solar system (really?) but the boiling point hasn't been previously measured. You might not think that Uranus is hot (Ha! Been waiting for that one!) but boiling--and by extension melting or vaporizing a material--also takes intense pressure. Which, as it turns out, Uranus has lots of pressure. (Must be those old jeans!).

Anyway, Discovery Networks explains how the scientists were able to replicate the science in a lab:
When the pressure dropped to about 11 million times the atmospheric pressure at sea level on Earth and the temperature dropped to about 50,000 degrees solid chunks of diamond began to appear. The pressure kept dropping, but the temperature of the diamond remained the same, with more and more chunks of diamond forming.

 Then the diamond did something unexpected. The chunks of diamond didn't sink. They floated. Microscopic diamond ice burgs floating in a tiny sea of liquid diamond. The diamond was behaving like water.
With most materials, the solid state is more dense than the liquid state. Water is an exception to that rule; when water freezes, the resulting ice is actually less dense than the surrounding water, which is why the ice floats and fish can survive a Minnesota winter.
So there you go, a concise explanation for diamond oceans and ice fishing in Minnesota all in one tidy package.

Read more...

Meanwhile, on Neptune....

Hey! Uranus ain't the only one with diamonds! 

Yeah, yeah, whatever...


UPDATE! Scientists say they're launching a probe in the near future:



Seriously, I better stop because I could do this all day.

5 comments:

ze bulette said...

Thats crazy man. I wanna see these! I wonder what you could do scientifically or industrially with a huge crystal like one of these.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

To quote Jasper "You found what on my what now?"

Narmer said...

O.k. Where's my spaceship? Shoot. I forgot. I need the iceberg diamond to buy the spaceship.

Jay said...

Yes--a rocket would be just the thing. Which reminds me, there's an update to this story....

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Those gents appear pretty happy about where that rocket is headed.