When the fire goes out…

220px-Apollo_synthetic_diamondOk, show of hands: How many of you have a fireplace?

Ok, good, thanks. If you didn’t raise your hand, you’re excused, but you can stay if you want.

Now, another show of hands: How many of those fireplaces are wood-burning?

If you didn’t raise your hand this time, get out. Who needs you?

Just kidding…we need you as much as we need those with wood-burners. Even if they’re cooler than you are.

Anyway, once the fire goes out, have you ever looked at the charcoal left behind? Of course not. That would be weird, and there are far better things to be looking at.

Like diamonds.

Even though they’re the same thing, the only difference being pressure. In fact, the same kind of pressure you’d find in the atmosphere of a gas giant like Jupiter or Saturn.

Isn’t it fitting, then, that scientists have found that there is a chance that it rains diamonds on both planets, and possibly on Uranus and Neptune also?

Carbon in the atmosphere descends and encounters sufficient pressure to be converted into diamond. And all of these planets have…wait for it…rings! Coincidence? I think not.

We’re not yet sure how long it takes for the conversion to occur there, but the same process on Earth takes millions of years. Remember that Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are all far larger than Earth and therefore have far higher atmospheric pressures.

So could we collect some of these diamonds? Probably, but such an undertaking would be hugely expensive. In fact, a mission like that would probably cost more than any diamonds we might gather would be worth on the open market, not that they’d ever be available to the public.

Why not? We can’t even buy the samples brought back from the Moon, and those are, in the end, just rocks. If we get diamonds from another planet, we’ll be lucky to see photos of them.

Still, the possibility is there.


P.S. – I almost forgot…the pressure needed to create a diamond also generates an enormous amount of heat, and we all love the end result.

Still think being “cool” is so great?


1 Comment

  • I wouldn’t be so sure diamonds from Jupiter will be so expensive for ever. Of course when we get to develop technology to extract them cheaply, we might also be able to produce them even cheaper other ways. But the interior of gaseous planets is somewhere human exploration and machines will surely explore and exploit, just think of the absolute mass of those planets, hydrogen that can be used for fusion, volatiles and metals, all great for space industry. Those resources are valuable since the Sun’s materials are even more difficult to extract. Have you ever heard of the concept called Jupiter Brain? Well, it explains what happens when technology advances to the point of a continuous cycle of self-perfection, where intelligent machines understand and make even brighter machines.
    A ships hull made of diamond could conceivably endure the pressures to extract those diamonds. If diamond electric and electronic circuits could be built, a fully diamond probe could dive into Jupiter too. I bet some scientist have proposed an much more feasable design to dive into Jupiter or Saturn.

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