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Uranus and Neptune May Have "Oceans of Diamonds"

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the went-to-sea-in-a-sieve dept.

Space 347

Third Position writes "Oceans of liquid diamond topped with solid 'icebergs' of the precious gems could be on Uranus and Neptune. The first-ever detailed research into the melting point of diamond found it behaves like water during melting and freezing — with its solid form floating on the liquid. A large diamond ocean on one or both of the planets could provide an explanation for an oddity they both share: unlike Earth, they do not have magnetic poles that match up with their geographical poles." The article doesn't mention what the pressures might be like in these outer-planets environments, but the researchers found that liquefying diamond requires 40 million times Earth's atmospheric pressure at sea level.

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347 comments

Finally (5, Funny)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899474)

So now /.ers can tell their "girlfriends" that if you want a diamond, you're free to look for one in Uranus?

Re:Finally (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899504)

[ruining joke]
        That's all fine and good, but I would not want to send my girlfriend on a trip that long unescorted by me. HEHEHEHE we could have sex the whole way there, YAY!
[/ruining joke]

Thanks folks, I'm here to ruin gay jokes all week, and for the record, I have a girlfriend!

Re:Finally (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899514)

liar!

Re:Finally (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899586)

Not if the Jews get there first.

Who else would refer to diamond as iceBerg? Probably somebody named GoldBerg. Get it?

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week until I hop into my Volkswagen to go FahrfromJuden.

Re:Finally (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899686)

Look at the bright side. This will at least get the space program funded. If the Jews want it, they get it, so the taxpayer will have to pay for it. [prometheism.net]

Re:Finally (2, Informative)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899732)

No it won't. Diamonds are cheap because of enforced supply. With any likelihood, this would be lobbied to never take off so the diamond supply stays small and controlled.

Re:Finally (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | more than 4 years ago | (#30900026)

Your first and last sentences I grok, but WTF is up with that middle one?

Re:Finally (1, Funny)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899796)

dude - you are a fucking genius for that.

Obligatory (4, Funny)

saxoholic (992773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899994)

So now /.ers can tell their "girlfriends" that if you want a diamond, you're free to look for one in Uranus?

I'm sorry langelgjm but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all...

Re:Finally (5, Funny)

theMoleofProduction (842123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30900012)

So now /.ers can tell their "girlfriends" that if you want a diamond, you're free to look for one in Uranus?

Worth a shot...
"Hey, baby! Answer me this: What's the hardest thing known to man, and you can find lots of it way up in Uranus?"

*oof* ...and now I have a black eye to explain to my boss. Damn you, science!

Re:Finally (1)

vxice (1690200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30900022)

One day in jr. high school science class we were talking about all the planets and when we got to Uranus to get it out of the way since it would happen anyways the teacher told us a bunch of Uranus jokes. I wasn't paying attention when he started and was thus confused when half paying attention. Uranus has a thick crust? I thought it was a gas giant? We are sending a probe to Uranus? Really never heard of that. I finally figured it out once he said that toilet paper and the Uss enterprise both search for Klingons in Uranus. I'm kinda surprised there are more of these gems on this Uranus thread. he he get it.

vindication for bluegrass (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899486)

Like many sci-fi authors who predicted inventions long before they became practical, bluegrass can now claim [youtube.com] foresight into future scientific advances.

obligatory uranus joke (4, Funny)

hitchhacker (122525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899500)

"Pardon my French, but Cameron is so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, in two weeks you'd have a diamond."

-- Ferris Bueller

Re:obligatory uranus joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899944)

You just Stewie Griffined that quote. You got the point, but not all of the words.

Precisely (0)

rinoid (451982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899508)

That is a very good first post. I can't touch it, nor would I want to for that matter.

But the false market of these rocks has basically caused me to steer way clear of them. The woman I married and love doesn't have one from me, the only woman I purchased one for, well, I ran away.

Well, that's one way to get the space race moving. (4, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899518)

I'd like to let everyone know that Mars is full of gold just under the crust, and every planet around Proxima Centauri is rich with uranium.

Get that space program moving.

Re:Well, that's one way to get the space race movi (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899544)

no. the shipping cost is greater than the value of the (semi-precious) gems you'd get. also the debeers would get upset, and the (highly controlled) diamond market would collapse.

Good riddance (5, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899602)

Might be worth the cost of shipping if it did away with the diamond industry once and for all! Of course, what with marketing, De Beers would probably buy up the stock from Uranus and either dump it in the ocean, or sell it at 500% the price of normal diamonds as "space diamonds... the most romantic diamond yet. Shit that's been floating on the seas of Uranus for millions of years can now be on your hand - FOREVER."

Re:Well, that's one way to get the space race movi (3, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899664)

I recall someone doing some maths and determined that if there were a mountain of gold bars on the moon it would not be economical to go get some. Same applies here I'd imagine, much moreso.

Re:Well, that's one way to get the space race movi (2, Informative)

suso (153703) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899860)

And you might also be interested to know that a mountain of gold doesn't eve exist on the earth. Apparently all the gold ever refined in the world would only fill a cube 20 meters on each side.

Re:Well, that's one way to get the space race movi (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30900050)

Actually it would be much smaller! There have been roughly 3.4B troy oz of gold mined, or about 116,000 short tons. 1 ft^3 = ~.5 short tons so ~58,000 ft^3 or ~1,642 m^3 or less than 1/4 your 8,000 m^3 cube =)

Re:Well, that's one way to get the space race movi (4, Funny)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899890)

>if there were a mountain of gold bars on the moon it would not be economical to go get some.

Why not? All you have to do is get there, ie. the cost of the rocket and fuel, plus training and supplies.

Then once you're up there, all you have to do is throw all the gold back down.

Re:Well, that's one way to get the space race movi (4, Funny)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 4 years ago | (#30900018)

Then once you're up there, all you have to do is throw all the gold back down.

Well, you'd have to "throw" it down slowly enough so that it doesn't become a molten, white-hot projectile and embed itself several miles in the ground when it crash-lands.

Re:Well, that's one way to get the space race movi (4, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899724)

Though if it would be possible to mine this form of coal in industrial quantities, it could suddenly become useful as a mineral... (yes, I know diamonds are useful already - but those are usually small amounts of manufactured ones). There's even one book by Stephenson more or less about it. And hey, you have whole moon out there full of hydrocarbons, in quantities many times greater than deposits on Earth.

Is it impractical now? Hell yeah. Will it always be? I don't know. But I'm sure many people would laugh at you only few thousand years ago for suggesting that dark rocks can be used as a source of energy. A thousands years ago for suggesting the same with whale oil on industrial scale. 200 years ago with that black oily substance seeping from the ground here and there. Rocks from which people get mysteriously sick used for power generation and most powerful explosives? Tapping the power of a volcano? Splitting water to get to the Moon? That's insane!

Re:Well, that's one way to get the space race movi (4, Informative)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899900)

You know what else De Beers is peeved about? Man-made [gemesis.com] diamonds [apollodiamond.com] . They're cheaper and more ethical than anything De Beers can find in Sierra Leone.

Re:Well, that's one way to get the space race movi (4, Funny)

toobulkeh (1728332) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899894)

I'm waiting for Unobtainium.

Re:Well, that's one way to get the space race movi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899898)

Yeah! Because I'm sure if the pressure is 40 million infinition; enough to liquify diamond, I'm sure our puny steel vehicles will stand up to it just fine. Just send someone up there to scoop it all up into a cargo hold and fly it back here. Easy peasy.

Re:Well, that's one way to get the space race movi (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 4 years ago | (#30900006)

I heard that there's obscene amounts of unobtainium in one of the moons of Pandora, and it's yours for the taking!

For the dull knives in the drawer (5, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899534)

detailed research into the melting point of diamond found it behaves like water during melting and freezing -- with its solid form floating on the liquid

I only point this out because you would be surprised at how many human beings don't know this, but for it to float to the top, that means its frozen state is less dense, hence expands, when freezes. Almost nothing else does this.

Re:For the dull knives in the drawer (0, Redundant)

sneilan (1416093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899576)

I only point this out because you would be surprised at how many human beings don't know this, but for it to float to the top, that means its frozen state is less dense, hence expands, when freezes. Almost nothing else does this.

Water does that.

Re:For the dull knives in the drawer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899590)

WOOOOOSSSHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Re:For the dull knives in the drawer (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899618)

And pretty much nothing else. Most things contract when they get colder, and become more dense. Water contracts as it cools until around 4'C at which point it begins to expand again.

Re:For the dull knives in the drawer (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899688)

Water does that.

Only because water (h2o) is a polar molecule. When we're talking diamonds and other similar materials we're talking raw elements (carbon in the case of diamond) which don't have the opportunity to be polar, and thus will always contract as cooled.

Re:For the dull knives in the drawer (5, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899774)

Bismuth, Silicon, Germanium and Gallium are all elements that have a solid phase that is less dense than their liquid phase. Acetic acid I hear is less dense in its solid phase but I haven't had a chance to verify this.

Re:For the dull knives in the drawer (0, Redundant)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899818)

^^^^^^^^^^mod up informative.

Re:For the dull knives in the drawer (3, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30900010)

Water decreases in density when it freezes because it forms a rigid crystal structure where there's quite a bit of empty space between molecules. Elements, such as carbon, can do that too, except the crystal structure is formed between atoms instead of molecules.

Since the story is about solid diamond being less dense than liquid, why would you claim that elements will always contract as they're cooled?

Re:For the dull knives in the drawer (3, Informative)

Cyrano de Maniac (60961) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899612)

There's at least one notable substance that shares this property: Water. That's why it forms ice on the top surface rather than along the bottom/sides of the container (be that container a bucket, a river, or a lake). This very fact is instrumental to life on our little globe.

elements where the liquid is denser than solid (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899872)

There's at least one notable substance that shares this property: Water.

And another notable one, silicon.

Re:For the dull knives in the drawer (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899620)

You beat me to it, I also find this the most interesting part of the TFA. I wonder if this unusual property is more or less pronunced in carbon than it is in water, ie: do the diamondbergs float higher or lower in the liquid carbon than icebergs do in liquid water?

Except for the thing that covers 70+% of the earth (-1, Redundant)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899730)

... no text needed, if you can't figure it out then go have a drink...

Re:Except for the thing that covers 70+% of the ea (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899986)

Well he did say water and diamond and not much else.

Water and diamond does include both water and diamond...

motivation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899536)

now I am convinced humans will create space ships, because nothing will get in the way of greed !!!

Re:motivation (3, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899636)

No, for a couple reasons:

A) Diamonds are only expensive on earth because of artificial scarcity. If we could bring them back to earth by the spaceshipload, suddenly they wouldn't be worth very much. Apparently this is different than the nature of unobtanium.

B) Space flight is extremely expensive. If it turned out the moon were solid gold, and we could go there and bring it back a ton at a time, it still wouldn't be cost-effectice to go get it. It really does cost that much to go into space.

Re:motivation (3, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899720)

Diamonds are only expensive on earth because of artificial scarcity

I don't think even that is the case anymore. Maybe in the past, and maybe that's why the present is where it is, where something has a perceived value that's arguably a great deal above it's actual or practical value. The diamond market goes to great lengths to maintain this public perception. The only diamonds that are scarce are large natural ones.

Heck, helium is fast becoming a scarce material, which is just weird to think about. But they're not making it anymore so I suppose.

Re:motivation (3, Insightful)

ppanon (16583) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899798)

C) good luck designing something that could survive the pressures and temperatures that cause diamond to melt, and yet that would also be capable of escaping the gravity wells [xkcd.com] of Uranus or Neptune. They may not be Jupiter or Saturn but they're still gas giants.

Re:motivation (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899882)

If it turned out the moon were solid gold, and we could go there and bring it back a ton at a time, it still wouldn't be cost-effectice to go get it. It really does cost that much to go into space.

But returning a ton of stuff from space can be quite cheap. Returning gold from the moon could be cost-effective, if you were willing to spend quite a few billion dollars building a mass-driver to launch it to Earth, and facilities to build simple lifting bodies to land it safely.

That said, if you were to return enough gold to justify such an investment, the price of gold might drop too low to justify the cost :).

Of course in this case even if you could build a mass-driver on one of Neptune's moons that was accurate enough to launch payload to Earth, that would cost far less than getting the diamonds out of Neptune in the first place.

Article is clearly misinformed (2, Funny)

Trogre (513942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899538)

There's no way this is even remotely possible.

I mean, diamonds are rare, aren't they? You know it, I know it, and De Beers know it.

Re:Article is clearly misinformed (1)

cupantae (1304123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899764)

FSM help us all if you are not joking.

Much as I'd love to make a great pun about uranus. (5, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899584)

The possibilities of exploring the outer "ice giants" is massive. I think, at least. I may not even make the pun because I think the idea of exploring them is so interesting.

Submarines are designed to handle a test depth of maybe 1600 ft which means maybe 50 bar of pressure. At that pressure, the atmosphere of Uranus is a little below freezing. The gravity is less than Earth. I suspect that with correct ballasting you could make a metal sphere float in the atmosphere for quite some time by keeping the insides pressurized to a convenient atmospheric pressure. So sticking around for a while isn't hard.

I can't find any good information on the radiation environment there and if you could put humans in the little bubble circling Uranus.. um.. yeah, I lied above.

Re:Much as I'd love to make a great pun about uran (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899614)

Escape velocity is such that while humans could be landed on Neptune or Uranus they couldn't be lifted off without advanced fusion powered rockets. I don't actually think the giant planets have much potential for us unless we find ways to exploit humungus amounts of mass. Applications like building ringworld and dyson spheres could require that much mass.

The moons of the giant planets will keep us busy for 1000 years at least.

Re:Much as I'd love to make a great pun about uran (1)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899716)

Escape velocity is such that while humans could be landed on Neptune or Uranus they couldn't be lifted off without advanced fusion powered rockets.

Yeah, well don't forget about the gravity. If humans landed on those planets I doubt they'd be very interested in taking off again. Although they might make good frisbees from then on.

Re:Much as I'd love to make a great pun about uran (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899758)

Escape velocity is such that while humans could be landed on Neptune or Uranus they couldn't be lifted off without advanced fusion powered rockets.

Yeah, well don't forget about the gravity. If humans landed on those planets I doubt they'd be very interested in taking off again. Although they might make good frisbees from then on.

As cmowire pointed out gravity on most of these planets is not so great, with the exception of Jupiter where it is IIRC 2.5 g or so. On saturn it is just over a g and on Uranus and Neptune it is below one g. While their mass is huge their density is low so gravity is modest.

Re:Much as I'd love to make a great pun about uran (2, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899762)

The problem isn't somuch the escape velocity required, as it is getting the fuel there. Look how much fuel it takes to get the shuttle out of the atmosphere. Compare that with the weight of the shuttle itself. Now imagine what it would take to launch that much fuel into orbit, if you were going to take it with you and use it to take off from Neptune after you landed.

Fusion drive probably wouldn't be any more useful there as it is here. Currently the most practical way to orbit is to trade mass at appreciable velocity, and the problem there is you usually want the mass you're trading to come from the same thing that's generating the velocity, and that'd be rocket fuel. Not much of that on Neptune unfortunately, or anything else with those two qualities.

Owell the first people to go there or mars or whatever are going to be permanent residents anyway. I'd still go though, given the opportunity - I doubt they'll have problems finding takers for that one when it comes up.

Re:Much as I'd love to make a great pun about uran (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899948)

The atmosphere of Uranus is 83% hydrogen. If we can't turn that into fuel for a fusion reactor then we won't be operating in the atmosphere of that planet. So the planet has plenty of fuel, and fusion power is (as always) 50 years away.

Re:Much as I'd love to make a great pun about uran (1)

cmowire (254489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899932)

Actually a nuclear powered rocket will do just fine. Nobody there to get pissed off if you pressurize some of the abundant hydrogen into a tank and run it past a fission reactor.

pressure off by a magnitude (5, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899604)

40 million atmospheres is the kind of pressure that you'd measure under 400 million meters (400,000km) of material at a density of 1 g/cm^3 at a constant 1 g. Uranus and Neptune's gravity field is near 1g give or take and the density is not much more than 1g/cm^3 so the pressure in the core can not be 40 million atmospheres as there isn't ~400,000 km of material sitting above the core. Given that Uranus has a radius of ~25,000 km, density of ~1.27 g/cm^3, surface gravity of 8.7 m/s^2 and that the gravity field drops off roughly linearly with depth, the pressure is probably about a tenth of what TFA says diamond started to melt. Either someone dropped a zero where it didn't belong or Diamond isn't fluid in these planets' cores.

Re:pressure off by a magnitude (3, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899710)

The core pressure of Uranus is estimated at 8 million bar, temperature about 5,000 K.

For Neptune, 7 million bar, temperature 5,400 K.

So yes, someone is full of shit.

Re:pressure off by a magnitude (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899816)

1 atm = about 100 kilopascals

according to http://hypertextbook.com/facts/1999/PavelKhazron.shtml [hypertextbook.com] , At the centre, the pressure is about 380GPa (380,000,000,000pascal)

so pressure at earth's center is about 3.8 million atmospheres. Quite a bit shy of 40. But that's assuming the same radius and density, which are probably quite a bit off. But not by that much I don't think.

Oh man (0, Redundant)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899616)

My ass. Not all that comes out of uranus is diamond.

Actually "Oceans of melted coal" (4, Insightful)

viking80 (697716) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899626)

I wonder why the headline isn't
Uranus and Neptune May Have "Oceans of melted coal"

"diamond" is by definition a solid crystalline form of carbon. If you melt it, it is by definition not diamond anymore.

Re:Actually "Oceans of melted coal" (5, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899680)

Normally when you try to melt a Diamond, the Diamond converts to graphite first and then melts. When the material freezes again, it isn't Diamond anymore. In the case of the article, the Diamond is under so much pressure that it no longer converts to Graphite before melting. When the liquid freezes again, it isn't Coal but Diamond.

Shhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899718)

Let DeBeers spend all their money getting to Uranus first! You're ruining the plan!!

Re:Actually "Oceans of melted coal" (2)

cupantae (1304123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899776)

What? "Insightful"?
So viking80 and everyone that modded viking80 didn't think to RTFA. It sets about answering this question right from the offset.

Re:Actually "Oceans of melted coal" (2, Insightful)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899804)

Obviously "liquid carbon" is the proper name, but I guess why they are calling it "liquid diamond" is because they are exploring the pressure/temperature region of the phase diagram where it solidifies into diamond (ergo diamond floating in liquid carbon).

http://dao.mit.edu/8.231/carbon_phase_diagram.jpg [mit.edu]

I don't get whey they are saying liquid Carbon may exist on Uranus though - the phase diagram indicates a minumum temperature for the liquid phase of 4.5 x 10^3 K, and even the core of Uranus is nowhere near that hot. Neptune, maybe.

These aren't valuable (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899628)

These diamonds aren't "precious". Either they're too far out of our reach and therefore worthless or they're within our reach and they're worthless because there's so many of them. If we could ever make it there and back the diamond market would crash. Not that that would be a bad thing. Debeers needs to have their illegal monopoly crushed by any means necessary.

Re:These aren't valuable (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899682)

De Beers actually has much less control over the diamond market than they used to... the market is still tightly controlled, but it's not just De Beers anymore.

But, as long as enough women get sucked in by diamond industry marketing and make receiving a ridiculously priced piece of carbon a condition of getting married, diamond prices will remain high.

Re:These aren't valuable (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899722)

The cost of something depends on quantity and demand/supply. So if it took 3,000$/kg to mine these diamonds from these gas giants, it wouldn't be profitable to mine enough of them to decrease the overall cost of diamonds below this value. If the supply of Diamond crashes to the point where the demand pushes up the cost of Diamonds enough that mining them from these gas giants is profitable then the price would still be at least what it cost to mine them from these planets. The only way that diamond values would crash would be if mining them were dirt cheap, which is very very unlikely. Now from the point of view of Uranus and Neptune, these Diamonds aren't just lying around, they're hard to get at which makes them quite rare and therefore precious.

Re:These aren't valuable (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899736)

The price of the diamonds would still need to cover the price of retrieving them, so until it got cheap and efficient to collect them, they would still be rather expensive.

Re:These aren't valuable (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899996)

Diamond is the hardest metal known to man! Imagine a safehouse or a car made of the stuff.

Calling it (2, Funny)

jimmyhugs (1726026) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899656)

Dibs on Uranus.

Re:Calling it (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899840)

Shotgun!

Diamonds for all! (1)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899662)

This is AWESOME!. We'll all be rich! Rich as astronauts! Because, of course, the value that we humans put into diamonds are because of their inherent worth to our quality of life and has nothing to do with the fact that we're a bunch of yahoos. [wikipedia.org] .

Just think of the Africans! (1)

AssTard (684911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899674)

Just think of how many oppressed Africans it took to make that, what?

liquid crystals? (1)

cheebie (459397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899690)

So, how is liquid diamond different from liquid graphite or liquid carbon? It's my understanding that the only difference between graphite and diamond is that the crystalline structure is 2-d in graphite and 3-d in diamond.

Is it just the fact that at those temperatures and pressures the natural crystals formed from the liquid are diamond?

Re:liquid crystals? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 4 years ago | (#30900008)

Correct. Below 10GPa, carbon freezes into graphite, while above it freezes into a diamond.

as for life... (1)

cheap.computer (1036494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899694)

yeah also... klingons are usually found on uranus.

NASA announces a new backer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899696)

NASA launches a joint space program with De Beers. The world's largest diamond producer is looking forward to cutting house sized diamonds.

Re:NASA announces a new backer (0, Redundant)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899770)

And Then De Beers sabotages the whole program because the real source of profit is in careful, controlled supply.

Life at 40 million atmospheres (4, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899700)

Hal Clement thought too small. Mesklin may be too low pressure for complex life.

One of the reasons earth is so amenable to life is that ice floats, so the oceans remain deep and liquid. The hydrocarbon oceans of Mesklin would be shallow and cold, a thin layer of liquid ammonia or methane over ices and clathrates. Thus they wouldn't serve as a moderator of temperature and reservoir of life the way Earths oceans have.

But if life based on crystalline carbon at millions of atmospheres is possible at all, it's all the more possible if the carbon-cycle resembles the water cycle on Earth.

Oh, NASA (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899742)

That was a very clever trick. NASA won't need to worry about getting the funding to build long-range spacecraft anymore now. Devious...

Diamonds aren't rare. (2, Informative)

cprocjr (1237004) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899752)

I really don't find this all that surprising, diamonds aren't even that rare on earth. The only reason they are so expensive is because diamond companies buy them all up and only put very few on the market. However, I have to admit, an iceberg of diamonds would look pretty darn awesome!

Watch Out! I saw this on Doctor Who! (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899778)

The Doctor already knew this. But watch out. What they don't mention is that planets with diamond waterfalls also apparently have strange, ethereal aliens that like to play "copycat" and have a thing for possessing lesbian women.

Re:Watch Out! I saw this on Doctor Who! (1)

MrP- (45616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899846)

Ahhh [youtube.com]

Ew... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899784)

.... There are nuggets on Ura... oh boy, this one is gonna go on forever.

can't you just make a diamond in the lab? (0, Offtopic)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899786)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the whole diamond market a big scam? Can't you make diamonds in a laboratory with elemental carbon at a fraction of the cost of what the diamond cartels charge?

Re:can't you just make a diamond in the lab? (4, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899906)

Synthetic diamonds are for the most part, industrial grade which tends to be opaque unlike gem quality natural diamonds which are transparent, contain Nitrogen and don't fluoresce under UV like synthetic diamonds generally do. Synthetic diamonds are synthesized in rapid fashion which leaves two major crystal phases in the finished material which is responsible for the fluorescence under UV light. Any transparent synthetic diamonds tend to either be devoid of Nitrogen (crystal clear) or have a yellowish tinge to them caused by Nitrogen in the crystal. Natural diamonds have Nitrogen in them but they form in such long periods of time that there is only one major crystal phase in them and the Nitrogen has migrated to regions in the crystal in such a way as to leave the diamond clear instead of yellow. So yes diamonds can be synthesized cheaper than those dug out of the ground. However, they are not quite the same as of today's technology and can often be differentiated from natural diamonds because of minute differences in their characteristics.

Re:can't you just make a diamond in the lab? (3, Insightful)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899934)

Yes.

Even natural diamonds aren't the slightest bit rare on Earth. It's just the diamond cartels that make it rare.

It's a wonderful planet (5, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899820)

That's nothing. I know of a planet that is made out of candy and chocolate and ponies. Just step into my vehicle, and I'll show it to you, little girl.

why worry about diamonds.... (1)

ushere (1015833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899832)

when we have a huge chunk of cheese hanging right above us?

such a dumb discussion. we can't even begin to think of getting anyone on the moon (again?), let alone up uranus....

Utopia Project (2, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899888)

It's the SKIES that are made of diamonds.

JC had it right! (1)

cadeon (977561) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899896)

Cue the Blue People and Human Mercenary Invaders!

I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899916)

Could you call them "blood diamonds" if an astronaut dies in the process of getting some?

Avatar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899918)

So does this mean we get to land there, mine the gems, and get our asses kicked by the locals?

an ocean of diamonds? (1)

hldn (1085833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899936)

"An ocean of diamonds? In my anus?"

It's more likely than you think.
FREE PC CHECK!

BLING BLING!!! (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899972)

We're going to see rappers really getting into astronomy and space travel now. Only in an attempt to be the first rapper with a diamond pool in one of his videos. Or maybe have a tap with running diamonds in his mansion to one up Dave Chappelle sprinkling diamonds on his dinosaur eggs. Once 106 & Park gets involved in space aeronautics we may actually start seeing videos like this [youtube.com] . You know, to get the kids involved.

A C Clarke (3, Informative)

rossdee (243626) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899974)

I think it was first mentioned in the book 2010 that Jupiter may have a core of diamond, nd later in the book 2061 an astronomer finds a piece of it (after Jupiter is blown up into a star by the monolith) on Europa.
So it would not be surprising to find diamond at the core of other gas giants. But so what, we could make diamond here on earth for less energy cost than digging it out of a gas giant and bringing it back to earth.

Diamonds are forever, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30899980)

Uranus is a girl's best friend.

In other news... (1)

Tracy Reed (3563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899998)

...DeBeers lobbies congress that the Space Program is a huge waste of money when there are real problems to be solved *here on earth*.

What's Unlike Like? (5, Informative)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30900024)

"...unlike Earth, they do not have magnetic poles that match up with their geographical poles."

Unlike Earth, neither does Earth. The Earth's south magnetic pole is presently about 25.6 degrees from the south pole. Granted, that's not 60 degrees, but apparently neither are theirs since according to TFA the magnetic poles on Uranus and Neptune "can be up to 60 degrees off the north-south axis", it they were, there's be no reason to say "can be".

There's no note regarding secondary poles on the giant planets like on the sun, but according the Oersted and Magsat satellite data and article in Nature in 2002 (416/8661, pp 620-623) there's an alternate pole developing in the South Atlantic west of South Africa. There's also a geomagnetic anomaly near Lake Baikal in Siberia that causes deflection in the magnetic field measured as far away as Japan, but there's no evidence (or none as yet) that it's a developing "alternate". But one's enough, when it comes to picking apart TFA. Not only is Earth unlike the Earth they compare against while constructing their theory, it's quite capable of being equal to the giants in its unlikeness in the complete absence of diamond seas with or without diamondbergs.

Cheap diamonds? No way, MORE EXPENSIVE Diamonds. (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30900048)

Think about this:

Diamond has no value in itself. It has technical applications, but there are already good substitutes, and for those applications (given the small amount needed, and the low quality of the diamonds involved) it's relatively cheap.
The value of Diamonds is artificially controlled: Scarcity, and symbolic value.

So, if normal Diamonds are expensive, Diamonds from space will be N times more expensive. They are actually MORE scarce, because They are fucking hard to bring back. Also, harvesting is more expensive (considering it were possible at all with current technology).

Also, there's is the "From space" thing. Currently, Synthetic diamonds are pretty cheap to produce, and they are legally diamonds. (I'm not talking about Zirconia, I'm talking about artificially produced diamonds). And still, people want real diamonds. Is there a difference between them? Nop, just the "This is scarce and comes from the core of the planet" thing.

So, Diamonds from outer space will be:

a) Fucking expensive
b) A great name for a band or B horror movie.

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