A pastor and independent miner in Sierra Leone has unearthed an uncut 706-carat diamond estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars. The pastor turned the diamond over to the government in hopes that the proceeds from its sale will help the impoverished country. But given the history of this former…
Platinum is one of the rarest and most useful metals on the planet. A new video from Cody’s Lab explains why a significant amount of this precious element exists in the dirt and dust by the roadside—and how it can be extracted.
If you want beautiful fireworks bursting in the sky, you’re going to need to mine the Earth first. Here’s the geology of the minerals that give fireworks their vibrant colours.
Circular landforms are intriguing. This is a naturally occurring feature, but was formed neither by a volcano nor a meteor. What is it?
NASA's Curiosity Rover has spent the better part of a year scooting from a low lying area called Yellowknife Bay to the base of Mount Sharp. As a recent chemical analysis performed by the robotic explorer shows, this region is distinctly different from that found within Gale Crater — which is exactly what NASA…
Precious minerals make the modern world go 'round—they're used in everything from circuit boards to tableware. They're also some of the most toxic materials known to science, and excavating them has proved so dangerous over the years, some have been phased out of industrial production altogether.
This isn't a Cassini photo of a Saturn moon against an asteroids field or a frame from Guardians of the Galaxy. This beautiful alien landscape is right here on Earth, a microscopic world hidden inside a gemstone, photographed by Danny J. Sanchez. He told me about the process behind his work here.
It's time for weekly space-links of astronomy and planetary science stories that we didn't cover on Space this week.
Americans spend more than $20 billion a year on supplements in hopes of staving off cancer, heart disease, and dementia. Trouble is, the latest research shows they provide no benefit — and they may even be hazardous to our health. But given our nutrient-deprived diets, should we really stop taking these pills…
A few weeks ago, Russian divers extracted a 1,250-pound chunk of the infamous Chelyabinsk meteorite from a lake where it landed on February 15. The massive space stone ended up cracking into three pieces—and though scientists may have cursed the clumsy divers, I was interested in something else: What was inside the…
We've all seen our fair share of rocks, and most of them aren't that pretty. The ones that are though, can be totally mind-blowing. Ryoji Tanaka, a Japanese photographer and chemist, likes to capture some of the most striking elements, minerals, and compounds in close-up (like the Uranium-containing cuprosklodowskite…
Looks like that skirmish between Japan and China last year over the neodymium and lanthanum required in the production of electronics has been resolved, now that Japan has stumbled over their own supplies in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.
In colonial times, Benjamin Franklin was fond of keeping a list of "13 virtues." If he violeted one, he would check it off, and use it as motivation to improve his moral standing. He was an original body hacker.
The NY Times reports a Chinese embargo on rare earth minerals—crucial ingredients for countless, very important things—has been applied to the US. Oh, and China possesses 95% of the production capability for this stuff on the entire planet.
Foxconn is often held up as the poster child for tainted gadgets, but there's far worse in war-torn Congo, from whence many of the minerals that ultimately make up the innards of our smartphones come.