The 9 Deadliest Minerals We've Ever Mined

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. » 9/26/14 9:00am 9/26/14 9:00am

This alien world is not a frame from Guardians of the Galaxy

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. » 8/01/14 4:39pm 8/01/14 4:39pm

30 Starry Wonders Hiding Inside of Dull Meteorites

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… » 11/04/13 9:00am 11/04/13 9:00am

10 Beautiful Minerals You Won't Believe Are Found on Earth

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… » 5/30/13 10:08am 5/30/13 10:08am

Japan's Rare Earth Metals Find May Break China's Stranglehold on Our…

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. » 7/06/11 10:45am 7/06/11 10:45am

Of Body Hacking, Ben Franklin and Your Data-Driven Future

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. » 6/12/11 10:00am 6/12/11 10:00am

China Won't Send US the Materials Required for Phones, Missiles, and…

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. » 10/20/10 5:49pm 10/20/10 5:49pm

New U.S. Law Requires Gadget Manufacturers Label Parts From Congo

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. » 7/25/10 12:00pm 7/25/10 12:00pm

Steve Jobs On Conflict Minerals: "It's a Very Difficult Problem"

Over the weekend, the Times ran a powerful op-ed piece that shed light on another dark link in the consumer electronics supply chain: the use of Congolese conflict minerals. In an email, Steve Jobs admitted "it's a very difficult problem." » 6/28/10 4:40pm 6/28/10 4:40pm