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Mathematician Theorizes a Crystal As Beautiful As A Diamond

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the i-prefer-my-stones-blood-free-thanks dept.

Math 302

Roland Piquepaille writes "Why are diamonds so shiny and beautiful? A Japanese mathematician says it's because of their unique crystal structure and two key properties, called 'maximal symmetry' and 'strong isotropic property.' According to the American Mathematical Society (AMS), he found that out of all the crystals that are possible to construct mathematically, just one shares these two properties with the diamond. So far, his K4 crystal exists only as a mathematical object. And nobody knows if it exists — or if it can be synthesized."

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I'm sure... (2, Insightful)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939552)

that the women won't think it as beautiful as a (natural) diamond!

Re:I'm sure... (5, Insightful)

ludomancer (921940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939602)

... and only because it doesn't cost as much? I hope not, but I could imagine that. It makes me sick how brainwashed some people are in this regard (let alone others).

Because of all the dirt surrounding the diamond industry, I will never buy one, and when/if I propose to my girlfriend she's getting a ring with any gem other than a diamond. (And not because I'm some cheap-ass.)

Of course, any woman that doesn't accept you as life-partner because you didn't spend enough money on her engagement item is superficial, materialistic trash anyway.

Re:I'm sure... (4, Insightful)

dasunt (249686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939694)

If you did want a diamond, there are non-African diamonds out there.

For example, there are Canadian diamonds.

Of course, there are also artificial diamonds, which, if I was getting hitched to a geek girl, I'd consider to be the perfect gift. :D

Re:I'm sure... (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940274)

there is also a company out there (sorry, I can't remember the name) that will take the cremated ashes of a relative and turn them into a diamond.

Nothing says 'I love you' like diamonified dead relatives!

Re:I'm sure... (3, Informative)

Palpitations (1092597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940340)

there is also a company out there (sorry, I can't remember the name) that will take the cremated ashes of a relative and turn them into a diamond.
LifeGem [lifegem.com] . They made news a while ago for creating diamonds from locks of Beethoven's hair. [lifegem.com]

That said, I've seen some very, very high quality diamonds (I forget the correct way to refer to it, but it was around 2 carats, no inclusions, and a D - completely colorless. Essentially, diamonds don't come any higher quality). Side by side with a nice piece of moissanite [wikipedia.org] , I'd take the moissanite. A quick search on it will find better sources and images that show why, exactly, but I don't want to link to a commercial site and seem biased.

Re:I'm sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21939712)

Go one step further, don't buy anything at all. Don't even get married. No one should need a trinket, a ceremony, or a certificate to prove they love each other. There's a lot of silly property rights nonsense tied to the institution of marriage ingrained in our law structure so I guess you might need a marriage license for practical reasons.

But what the hell do I know? I've not met someone who shares my views on this, so maybe it's just me.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

BUTT-H34D (840273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939882)

I've not met someone who shares my views on this, so maybe it's just me.
Most of us here have never met a chick at all. We're never going to score.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939890)

There's a lot of silly property rights nonsense tied to the institution of marriage ingrained in our law structure

These were in place to protect mostly females in a male-dominated and run society and relied on their "provider". Now they appear silly as women are more "free fought", yet they still enjoy the same protection and rights as decades ago put in place to secure their lives. It's called "tradition". It's why there are alot of silly laws. They once made alot of sense, but didn't evolve with the fast evolving society.

Re:I'm sure... (2, Interesting)

splodus (655932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939906)

My wife and I share your views; we lived together blissfully for 19 years before marrying one month before the birth of our first child.

In the UK a father has no rights over his child unless he is married to the child's mother when he or she is born. He is, however, legally responsible for supporting the child. He can apply to the courts for rights, but even if he is successful those rights can be taken away following an application by another party at a later date.

There have recently been some minor changes to the law (for example, it's now possible with the mother's consent, to have the father's name recorded on the child's birth certificate) but overall the law in the UK is heavily biased in favour of the mother unless mother and father are married. And after a separation, the courts usually side with the mother, and frequently grandparents, against the father.

The only reason we married was because it was the only way to ensure I had legal responsibility for our children in the event of a tragedy.

Compared to our love and commitment to each other, our marriage license is a pretty insignificant piece of paper that cost nearly a hundred quid that could have been put towards our child's university fund...

 

Re:I'm sure... (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940172)

I share your view completely, and have done so for quite some time. I also try to inform people I talk to about this. Marriage should have no place in any law or regulation. It should belong to religion only, and thus be completely optimal both in theory and in practice.

Then of course, I take it a step further too, as you can see from the URL [vhemt.org] I keep spamming here.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

ludomancer (921940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940492)

I used to prescribe to the voluntary extinction ideals. I have much respect for you and those who still do. In the end I opted to reproduce because I felt there was some credit to the theory of genetic memory, and because I have no idea what death is like (not religious, just opened minded and curious), I felt that keeping my family line intact wouldn't be such a bad idea. I think it's a combination of hope and cowardice. Either way, I wish you luck, and in many ways it's a pity that those support this movement are the ones to die-out, because they're obviously living from a perspective that would benefit this world and race, as opposed to others who would reproduce without conscience.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

mwlewis (794711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940746)

Then I guess they were right when they said that the only way to save the village was to burn the village.

Re:I'm sure... (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939762)

... and only because it doesn't cost as much? I hope not, but I could imagine that. It makes me sick how brainwashed some people are in this regard

Companies have invested a large amount of time and money to do that brainwashing. So much so that it's become part of our culture (as in everyone knows a wedding ring is a diamond ring...even though in reality the "tradition" is quite new). What's worse is that it understanding these things doesn't change the traditions, and will still want the traditional item.

Re:I'm sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21939818)

Is it unreasonable then to hold as one of your uncompromising requirements, not only the ability to recognize such brainwashing attempts, but also a refusal to submit to them?

Re:I'm sure... (1, Troll)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940176)

Is it unreasonable then to hold as one of your uncompromising requirements, not only the ability to recognize such brainwashing attempts, but also a refusal to submit to them?

My dear AC I don't give a damn about traditions, and don't have any interest in jewelry. I was speaking of the general population. For example if you think most women will simply accept a rational argument and be put off diamonds for a wedding ring you've got a lot to learn.

Re:I'm sure... (4, Insightful)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940506)

For example if you think most women will simply accept a rational argument and be put off diamonds for a wedding ring you've got a lot to learn.

Ha. Actually, you may be interested to know that advertising for diamond rings is actually targeted (albeit surreptitiously) at men. The message is: Women want a diamond ring. You don't need to ask them if they want it. It's such a deep part of our culture and their psyche that they want one. Just buy one.

The reason for this is, the companies who make money out of diamonds did a survey of couples considering marriage, and asked the women if they wanted a diamond ring. A lot of women knew how expensive it was, and replied that they didn't want a diamond ring, and they'd much rather put the money towards a house, furnishings, a car, etc.

This is obviously bad news for the diamond companies, so a few decades ago, the whole 'Diamonds are a girl's best friend' type advertising campaigns started, the whole purpose of which is to stop the man asking the woman if she'd like a diamond. Because quite often, she'd say no.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940438)

I assume you meant engagement ring. Wedding rings are usually simple 9ct gold bands, with the occasional variation.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940570)

Actually, not everywhere a wedding ring has a diamond in it.

I think it is pretty much an USA tradition

As Wikipedia says: "A plain gold band is the most popular pattern." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_ring [wikipedia.org]

Complementing: (1)

hummassa (157160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940660)

In Brasil, the engagement ring is the same as the wedding band; usually, it's a 14-ct to 18-ct gold plain ring.
Both nubents wear it on the right ring finger during the engagement period, and switch it to the left ring finger in the marriage cerimony.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

andy.ruddock (821066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940642)

everyone knows a wedding ring is a diamond ring
I always thought a wedding ring was a simple gold band, whereas an engagement ring was "traditionally" diamond.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940652)

... as in everyone knows a wedding ring is a diamond ring ...

Erm, isn't a wedding ring a plain band? I think you mean engagement ring. Not that I'm perpetuating the brain washing or anything.

Re:I'm sure... (5, Funny)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940134)

Because of all the dirt surrounding the diamond industry, I will never buy one, and when/if I propose to my girlfriend she's getting a ring with any gem other than a diamond. (And not because I'm some cheap-ass.)

Why give a gem ring at all ? Give a simple ring, made of gold, with inscription inside, which comes visible and glows red when heated in fire.

Yes, buy a wedding ring from Mordor Jewelers, Inc., and you'll never have to worry about your significant other abandonging you ! Guaranteed to be less evil than DeBeers.

Mordor Jewelers Wedding Ring - because she's your precioussss !

Re:I'm sure... (1, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940368)

Diamonds aren't the only gemstones that are mined under what some might consider "unfavorable" human rights conditions. I'm a married guy who did purchase a diamond set for my wife. Did you consider the source labor conditions for the computer you used to type your post? If you drive, what about the components that make up your automobile? Not trying to be insulting here, but exactly how old are? Just curious...

Re:I'm sure... (1)

ludomancer (921940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940464)

I hear you, and I'm not perfect. I'm 30. I don't drive, I ride my mountain bike everywhere when I can, and take mass transit when I can't. I use my PC daily because it's part of my livelihood. I've never thought about the conditions under which it was made, which kind of sucks now that you mention it, but at the same time I learned a long time ago that if you really look into everything in society, you may as well just leave it all behind and just live in the hills somewhere, because all of it is screwed up on some level. You just have to chose your vices as wisely as you can, and make an effort where you can afford to.
No offense taken, because I'm comfortable where I'm at in life because I know I at least *try*, and that's a lot more conscience than the entirety of my immediate social circle shows.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940504)

It's not the mining conditions that is concerning with diamonds, but the trade conditions. The diamonds are sold to fund warlords in Africa. Other gems and items may fund unsavory groups as well, but diamonds are the best known for it.

Personally, my objection isn't just to there "blood diamonds" but to diamond prices in general. Diamonds are not as rare as DeBeers would have you believe, the price is entirely artificial.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939934)

who gives a fuck it's not like any of you are going to get a chance at actual female contact.

In other news... (5, Funny)

ScaryMonkey (886119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939554)

A Japanese mathematician has been found dead in his laboratory. Police say they suspect the killers to be jewelry-wearing silhouettes.

Actually, the diamond cartel PR will love it (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940378)

Actually, if this wasn't already part of a PR coup, it will become one very soon. "Scientist proves that diamonds are the prettiest existing crystals" is a great way to remind people to buy diamonds, and give them a good excuse for conspicuous consumption too.

The part about another crystal which could theoretically be as pretty, only it doesn't exist (and, as another poster noted, can't possibly exist because electrons aren't shared that way, plus it would be opaque) is just that extra bit of "science" to make it easier to swallow. It lets people feel that they've connected the dots themselves to reach your conclusion.

I mean, "scientist proves that diamonds are the prettiest possible thing in the universe" is a superlative, plus you're feeding people your message a bit heavy handed. Some will resist it. "Scientist proves that only one thing could be prettier, except it doesn't exist in nature" lets people go, "haha, silly scientist, but in the meantime, out of the things one can actually buy, diamonds are the prettiest, right?" Only now it's their own conclusion, and they won't fight it. In fact, they'll feel all smug and smart about it.

Sad to say, that's how PR works.

PR isn't marketing. PR is marketing's evil stealthy brother. It loves to masquerade as news, science studies, etc. Marketing plants the seeds, but PR ploughs your mind first.

Marketing just goes and tells you "Buy Mars chocolate bars, they're great." PR comes and tells you, "Scientists prove that chocolate is good for you! Valuable enzymes found in cocoa beans!" (Except, what they don't tell you, those enzymes are no longer present in chocolate.) That was an actual PR stunt sponsored by Mars.

Marketing just tells you "The suit is back! Buy Men's Warehouse suits, they look all professional and stuff!" PR goes and tells you "The suit is back! Here's a ton of interviews with managers swearing that they'd never hire someone who doesn't wear a business suit 24/7." That was an actual PR stunt debunked that was linked to even on Slashdot.

So, anyway, they write some piece of news and then carpet bomb sites and newspapers with it. A lot of newspapers, especially local ones, are even happy to just print whatever PR sends them, because it's written well and it's more interesting than local "raccoon found in Mr Smith's car" stuff. So pretty much any PR agency can get you in those. A really good one can get you on TV and on Reuters. Those tend to be a lot more expensive.

And faked scientific studies aren't new stuff either. A _lot_ of PR stuff is published as stuff backed by science and (pseudo)maths. The way that goes is, some PR hack writes some pseudo-science babble. It doesn't have to make any sense. It can add different units, or claim that a theoretical crystal is pretty when the electron structure would make it a metal, and thus look like Tin. It doesn't matter. If you can spot that, you're not in their target demographic anyway. Then it starts fishing for people with a Dr or Prof title who'll sign it. A lot say "fuck off", but eventually one has nothing to lose, noone takes him seriously anyway, and he could use the money. He'll take the pie in the face for their money.

Now I'm not saying that this particular paper is necessarily PR. It could be, but it also could be just someone who wanted to see his name in a journal. But even if it wasn't written as PR for the diamond cartel, that cartel could very easily use it as PR if they need some. Far from sending someone to kill him, they're probably happy right now.

As beautiful as a diamond... (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939562)

...too bad it wants to erase all life.

Re:As beautiful as a diamond... (2, Funny)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939656)

I vote against the creation of the Crystalline Entity. I just want that on record here and now.

Doesn't matter (1)

Faylone (880739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939564)

I can assure you that the diamond cartel will make sure there's plenty of disinformation spread if they are able to be produced. If I were him, I'd be quited worried about some nasty thugs showing up on my doorstep.

Re:Doesn't matter (0, Flamebait)

Kerstyun (832278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939868)

diamond cartel = JEW'S

that's great (5, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939570)

just as the price of diamonds are threatened by artificial sources, questions about funding evil regimes, and anger at diehard debeers monopolies, promising that men can give women what they want for only $10 someday, this mathematician a**hole comes along with a totally new need-to-have impossible-to-obtain subtance that guys must fork over big bucks for

curse you, mathematics!

Re:that's great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21939914)

He can't be blamed. Afterall, what's the chances he's ever had to give a woman a gift?

Re:that's great (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940120)

The price of what women want will always be high. The specific objects of desire change, the pain in obtaining them will remain the same.

Re:that's great (4, Funny)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940666)

It's the thought that counts.

Re:that's great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940580)

"promising that men can give women what they want for only $10 someday"

Unfortunately, most women don't want it because of what it is, they want it for how much it costs, hence if it costs $10, women wont want it.

That's not right (5, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939576)

The reason diamonds are so beautiful is that every one of them represents gallons and gallons of blood and broken bones laying in the bottom of a diamond mine. Nothing is quite as shiny as pure human misery.

Re:That's not right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21939598)

The reason diamonds are so beautiful is that every one of them represents gallons and gallons of blood and broken bones laying in the bottom of a diamond mine. Nothing is quite as shiny as pure human misery.
Word.

Re:That's not right (3, Insightful)

ConanG (699649) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939774)

Oh, what a load of crap. Not all diamonds are blood diamonds. Not "every one" of them. And diamonds have always been in demand. Long before the blood diamonds of Africa. It's okay to be against blood diamonds, but don't go around thinking diamond==blood diamond.

Re:That's not right (5, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939820)

Well duh.

Even so, if you buy a diamond that is not technically a "blood diamond", you are still supporting the market for diamonds and raising the price of those blood diamonds. And unless you are admiring your "good diamond" in private, you are supporting the culture of diamond-lovers.

Which is a long winded and less clever way of saying what the parent poster said.

Re:That's not right (0, Troll)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939856)

When you download from bittorrent you are supporting pirate downloads. Even if you download only linux isos, you still support bittorrent protocol which is used mostly for breaking copyright.
So if you are against buying diamonds because some of them are blood diamonds, you should be against very many things.

Re:That's not right (2, Interesting)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939958)

Simple difference, I don't want to boycott bittorrent because it is used for piracy, I do want to boycott diamonds because they contribute to human misery.

Re:That's not right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940270)

Pirated media == human misery. Easy.

Re:That's not right (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940424)

Not affording that 5th countach with colors matching your new luxury yacht does _NOT_ count as 'human misery'...

Re:That's not right (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940618)

As far as I know, no-one died during the acquisition of an I Am Legend screener.

Re:That's not right (1)

bloobloo (957543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940760)

Don't give the MPAA any more ideas, please.

Re:That's not right (0, Troll)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940650)

When you purchase food at the store, you are leading to the inflation of price of tomatoes and cucumbers, thereby leading to the starvation of those who cannot afford it. Even if you're only enjoying your food in private, you're still supporting a culture of food-lovers.

And before you start with the "but food is a necessity" schtick, purchasing food is not a necessity. You could grow your own and avoid adding to the human misery!

Re:That's not right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940720)

Sorta like it doesn't matter where your drugs are from. It could be heroin from a non terrorist organization, or locally made. But, just the fact terrorist groups from the middle east make and sell heroin to fund themselves, has me believing that all heroin users big or small are terrorists themselves indirectly.

Demand was inflated through marketing (4, Informative)

aepervius (535155) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940222)

It is well known that before the ad-campaign of mid 20th diamonds were not that much in "demand". Heck, it is well known that before the oversupply of the 19th century diamond were relatively rare. Look at wiki for more detail.

quote The De Beers diamond advertising campaign is acknowledged as one of the most successful and innovative campaigns in history. N. W. Ayer & Son, the advertising firm retained by De Beers in the mid-20th century, succeeded in reviving the American diamond market and opened up new markets, even in countries where no diamond tradition had existed before. N.W. Ayer's multifaceted marketing campaign included product placement, advertising the diamond itself rather than the De Beers brand, and building associations with celebrities and royalty. This coordinated campaign has lasted decades and continues today; it is perhaps best captured by the slogan "a diamond is forever". End Quote


Source wiki [wikipedia.org]

Despite being in over surplus from mid 19th to mid 20th, diamond were not that popular and high in demand.
in such context "And diamonds have always been in demand." the always is too much. If you change that to mid 20th century onward, you will be right.

The only reason they're expensive is.... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940322)

The only reason diamonds are expensive is because of the cartels which tightly control the supply.

These people have millions of diamonds stockpiled and only release as many as needed to keep the price high. They could flood the market tomorrow if they wanted to.

Re:Demand was inflated through marketing (1)

ConanG (699649) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940388)

I guess I used the wrong word. I meant desire, not demand. Diamonds have always been "desired". What De Beers was able to do was translate that desire into actual demand and increased sales.

Before the mid 19th century, diamonds were quite rare and expensive. Very few people could actually afford to have diamonds and there was very little demand for them. People still desired them, they just couldn't afford them. Just like Ferraris. They are very desirable, but there is little demand for them. De Beers created demand through iron-fisted control of the market and a truly genius slogan. They were also helped by a growing post-WWII middle class.

I mean, it's not like people were just kicking them off to the side if they happened upon them in the street...

Re:That's not right (1)

rasputin465 (1032646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940440)

I agree that at least the crystal structure can't be the sole reason why diamonds are coveted. I should point out that silicon [webelements.com] has the exact same crystal structure as diamond, and no one's killing people over that.

Re:That's not right (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939980)

Actually pure human greed comes pretty close. Yes yes yes, we all know the issues associated with diamonds on this site, and I think that most people would shrug it off if they found out the diamond they just purchased had, lets just say, resulted in the deaths of an entire village of Africans. In my view such avarice makes any such gift an ironic one at best, even if both parties involved are unaware that this is the case.

Re:That's not right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940096)

Let's get one thing straight: I believe blood diamonds exist. It sucks, but that is how things are.

But second, the whole hoopla over "blood diamonds" is a DeBeers propaganda device to further dominate the diamond market even though the conditions in their mines isn't always better. We get every consumer product from China with some factories having the most deplorable conditions and the country itself a ruthless autocracy killing thousands of people each year -- and don't raise a fuss.

Or the oil out of our gas pumps? Do we check if it comes from a quasi dictator-communist states from South America, war zones like Iraq, terrorist states like Saudi Arabia (15 of 19 hijackers)? I don't recall an oil pump ever indicating where the contents came from or in what percentage (maybe that would be a good idea).

The whole point of DeBeers doing this is to control the distribution channels. They already introduced microscopic laser engraving of the diamonds years back and are sending out their marketing to make sure people know those are practically the only acceptable diamond (in perception). The beauty of this system is that it not only would control the distribution from the mine -- because laser engraving is fake and they own their database of numbers -- they can try to control the second hand market -- now people have to come to them to authenticate via the database whether the engraving. Imagine having to go back to the dealer to sell your car, your books, your music cds -- anything -- they are going to take a cut of the profit. We're not there yet, but it's something DeBeers is pushing and legislative steps have been taken toward it with the Clean Diamond Act among other things.

http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/africa/01/18/diamonds.debeers/ [cnn.com]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_diamonds#Criticism [wikipedia.org]

Kind of interesting, but.... (3, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939612)

The difference with diamonds here is that not only do they have a documented mathematical structure, but they can also already be constructed artificially. But hey, he might just be the guy who takes the second place for... erm... a kind-of-diamond-looking artificial crystal. It would be interesting to know if any other properties than a fancy look could in theory be attributed to this one thanks to its structure.

4 points, in which any two vertices are connected (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939632)

"4 points, in which any two vertices are connected by an edge." Isn't that a tetrahedron?

There are tetrahedral crystals. [mindat.org] The last picture on that page is an unusually nice one.

The possible crystal forms for an element depend on the bond angles, and I don't think carbon will hold a stable tetrahedral lattice. Not sure, though.

Re:4 points, in which any two vertices are connect (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21939676)

> I don't think carbon will hold a stable tetrahedral lattice.

Tetrahedral, good call. What do you get when you put carbon atoms into a tetrahedral lattice? Surprise: diamonds!

http://www.iit.edu/~felfkri/report_files/image005.jpg [iit.edu]

This article doesn't even say what this new-fangled structure *is*...

Re:4 points, in which any two vertices are connect (1)

CookieOfFortune (955407) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939768)

Diamond isn't stable, like glass, it just takes billions of years to lose it's shape, or something like that.

Re:4 points, in which any two vertices are connect (2, Funny)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939994)

No way man, the TV says diamonds are forever.

Re:4 points, in which any two vertices are connect (2, Informative)

rxmd (205533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940066)

Diamond isn't stable, like glass, it just takes billions of years to lose it's shape, or something like that.
Or something.

What makes you think that glass isn't stable? (link [ucr.edu] , link [unl.edu] )

I have an archeologist friend who works with Roman glass found along the Silk Road. Looks perfectly stable to me (well, at least those pieces that aren't smashed to bits).

Re:4 points, in which any two vertices are connect (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940434)

Actually, iirc, diamonds undergo 'decompression' over time, loses its crystalline shape, and becomes 'ordinary' carbon. Think 'coal'.

Takes a while though. Longer than human civilization has been around. MUCH longer.

Re:4 points, in which any two vertices are connect (1)

Dr. Stavros (808432) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940324)

Indeed, at room temperature and pressure, diamond is not thermodynamically stable with respect to graphite. So yes, under standard conditions, a diamond will turn into graphite, just incredibly slowly.

k-4 crystal has 3 vertices - Nitrogen family (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940140)

If one looks at the K-4 crystal picture, it is composed of objects that have 3 connections. Carbon can't be used, as it likes to form 4 bonds, and the resulting two single and one double bond would deform the symmetry. The Nitrogen family on the periodic table like to form 3 bonds with symmetry. Phosphorus is also in the same column, but it can form up to 5 bonds, and I think would be troublesome to use to form the crystal.

Dimonds arn't wanted for their beuity (4, Insightful)

Bo'Bob'O (95398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939666)

The value of diamonds has nothing to do with actual aesthetics. Of course, a dimond with a good cut and clarity is worth more, but it's not what makes people want them for jewelry, it's conspicuous consumption, little more.

After all, look at the value of often superior synthetics. Or look how people's taste for pearls rapidly decreased as the price decreased.

Of course, diamonds have plenty of other uses, but there is no shortage of them for that, seeing as DeBeers grinds up diamonds for industrial possess in order to keep the supply artificially low.

Re:Dimonds arn't wanted for their beuity (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939724)

That's exactly what makes diamonds valuable. A monopoly. And that people think they're rare, and thus precious. I doubt the monopoly holder is going to change that any time soon, else... well, why slaughter the goose that lays the golden eggs?

You can rest assured that, if some process can be found to actually manufacture that superspecialawesome new crystal, it will be monopolized as well. If nothing else, a patent will do that. Then this crystal will be the new diamond, especially if the manufacturing process involves machinery that you can't simply hide in some clandestine lab (where you could try to circumvent and ignore the patent). The creation process will be described as incredibly expensive and high-tech, we'll get to see shiny jewelry using it, and people will buy into the hype. Just like they do with diamonds.

Thinking that all those wonderful, incredibly useful, super-hard crystals are dangling pointlessly around some necks makes the geek in me sick.

Re:Dimonds arn't wanted for their beuity (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939764)

and they would market it in a way that you would look so unthoughtful and unloving when you try to buy for your loved one from the second-hand market...

Re:Dimonds arn't wanted for their beuity (1)

phoebusQ (539940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940366)

You seem to misunderstand how these markets play out.

"Superior" synthetics are not superior in the way that counts: rarity. A very large part of what makes a diamond "special" is its rarity, as well as the time taken and amazing natural processes that occurred to produce it.

In addition, you have the cause and effect backwards for pearls. Prices dropped as demand decreased/supply increased, not the other way around.

The diamonds "ground up" for industrial uses are not of the same aesthetic quality that would go into your typical gemstone.

Re:Dimonds arn't wanted for their beuity (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940756)

"Superior" synthetics are not superior in the way that counts: rarity.

And if that's the only reason people like them then I just lost a little more faith in humanity.

The rarity is enforced by DeBeers. They're not all that rare (how can they be, they're at every corner jewellery shop in every town and village in the western world).

Re:Dimonds arn't wanted for their beuity (5, Insightful)

Tlosk (761023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940754)

You seem to be assuming that diamonds are given to convey wealth from one person to another, in which case you would be correct, diamonds don't have a pragmatic worth anywhere close to what you pay for them.

But it is precisely that quality which makes them useful. In forming trust relationships humans have developed a number of ways to indicate "I'm a person you can trust and spend effort/time/resources on me because I will reciprocate."

One excellent way to do this is for a person to give something that was personally costly, but has little actual value to the receiver (other than the trust value it conveys).

So why not just give something with actual value/utility to the person? It would cost the giver the same right? Well as counterintuitive as it seems, it's to protect the giver. If we gave items that had actual value then there would be a high temptation to seek out trust relationships then just keep it and move on to the next person. Now you may be thinking, you can resell diamonds, but as anyone who has tried to unload an engagement ring knows, the only chance you have to resell it for anywhere near the purchase price is to sell it directly to another suitor.

It's the same thing with flowers I imagine, costly but little utilitarian value.

And given the differences in the sexes it makes sense that men will have evolved to feel good about giving expensive gifts, and women in receiving them, as a means of establishing a cooperative relationship where you can have some confidence that the other person can be trusted not to take advantage of you.

So whether it's diamonds, pearls, gold, extravagant chocolates, 8 dollar greeting cards, flowers or what have you, there will always be a use for gifts that are both costly to the giver and of little real worth to the receiver as a way to either establish or maintain trust (which is why women get so incensed if you forget to give a nice anniversary gift, to her it has profound implications for the state and future of your relationship). In other words, it's an artifact of the arms race that is sexual reproduction.

Doesn't silicon have the same... (1)

CookieOfFortune (955407) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939734)

crystal lattice as diamond...?

Predacon Symmetry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21939738)

...ought to be butt ugly.

Feh! (0, Offtopic)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939814)

K4 crystals? 'Some places that's what people use for money. They're easy to carry, and they don't wear out.' -- Klaatu

Diamonds and Lasers are a Geek's Best Friend? (0, Offtopic)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939880)

I've got a 1.1ct brilliant cut round diamond with strong flourescence, and a brand new 200mW 532nm (green) laser pointer (and a .25ct diamond of the same shape). What can I do with them that's as fun for me as getting the diamonds was for my wife?

Article is complete hogwash (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21939886)

To get things out of the way: Yes, I am structural chemist, I did RTFA and I am not a native english speaker, so please bear with my broken english.

I don't want to comment so much on the mathematical part of the paper, which might be interesting, but on the chemistry, which is non-sensical.

First of all the style of the article is very un-scientific. Note how often he mentions how pretty this crystal structure is. This is completely subjective and I don't see how this structure is prettier than many others. There is many fascinating structures and I don't think this or the diamond lattice are the most fascinating ones.

Then the assumption that the prettyness of diamond is a direct result from the crystal structure is silly. Someone else noticed that Silicium (and also Germanium and Tin) have exactly the same crystal structure - and they are not "pretty".

He doesn't mention space group nor atomic positions, which are absolutely fundamental when talking about a crystal structure.

Now even if the crystal would form like he describes (with 1/3rd double bonds), there is just no way this would ever look anything like a diamond. The electronic structure is completely different - diamond is an insulator, a classic dielectric material, whereas this, due to its double bonds and it's extendef pi-electron system, would be a classical conductor. It would probably look like graphite.

But, and this is the worst point, which even someone who only did very basic (highschool?) chemistry should immediately note, the compound can never form in this way. That's the first thing you learn about double bonds: they're flat or nearly flat. Admittedly, in fullerene and carbon nano-tubes, there is a certain curvation (making them not as stable as graphite), but if you look at this crystal structure, the double bonds have a dihedral angle of about 90 degrees. It's totally impossible to obtain this compound and everybody with scientific education should know this. The molecular orbitals can't form this way.

All in all I have no idea how it comes that this non-scientific non-sensical article is published by the AMS. Maybe you could make something out of the math part, but all the babble about prettiness and chemistry has to go.

Re:Article is complete hogwash (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940126)

As a mathematician, let me reply to your comment. We rarely care whether or not what is discussed can exist or not. For example, our universe appears to completely finite, but we discuss orders of infinity constantly. Also, we are completely comfortable with non-scientific words like "pretty". A good example of this may be found at http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~ym101/tie/short/tie_nature4.html [cam.ac.uk] discussing the possible nice looking possible tie knots.

Re:Article is complete hogwash (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940640)

(posting anonymously as I don't want to impact my trolling potential :)

As another mathematician, I have to agree with the OP. Beauty is not the issue. As a community, we often spice up our introductions with vague references to applications in other fields (or even other mathematical areas). This is mostly harmless since technical papers are rarely read by nonmathematicians (although occasionally by physicists), and the actual intended readership are interested in the mathematical parts, not the applications.

On the other hand, mentioning such an application is a way of justifying the research to granting bodies and asserting the relevance to one's broader research project.

But it's easy to get carried away with bogus explanations of phenomena which are typically outside of one's area of competence. There's no excuse for it in papers which are intended for a broad audience, and the OP is quite right in harshly criticizing the chemistry.

Re:Article is complete hogwash (3, Informative)

HalfFlat (121672) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940306)

Pretty is being used here not to describe the visual attraction of diamond, but instead to characterise simple but interesting properties of the structure. Quoting Sunada,

The beauty would be more enhanced and its emotional appeal would be raised to a rational one if we would explore the microscopic structure, say the periodic arrangement of carbon atoms, which is actually responsible for the dazzling glaze caused by the effective refraction and reflection of light.
Similarly, the crystal structure being discussed is a mathematical abstraction that captures key aspects of physical crystalline structures, while not purporting to be a complete or even entirely faithful representation of crystals in the real world: for example, real-world crystals are obviously not infinite in extent.

The term pretty, when used in this sort of mathematical context, is not exclusive. Under a different set of criteria, other crystalline structures could well be regarded as being "the prettiest". The properties that Sunada has identified though, are elegant properties from a mathematical viewpoint: they relate the intrinsic symmetries of the structure as a graph with the extrinsic symmetries of the realisation of that graph in a three-dimensional configuration. That the standard realization of a crystal lattice corresponds to a minimal energy configuration (Theorem 1) also demonstrates links to analysis and is an introduction to methods of ab initio calculations of specific heat (see for example the paper of Shubin and Sunada cited in the article.) From considerations of abstract mathematical structure, the diamond crystal is indeed beautiful, and the K4 crystal similarly so.

That the structure may be chemically impossible to realise with carbon atoms is certainly a valid and useful observation, but to criticise the whole article on the basis of 90 words of chemical speculation really is to misunderstand the article's topic and goals.

Re:Article is complete hogwash (1)

hung_himself (774451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940466)

Well, the problem with the article is not with the mathematical abstraction or playing around with these ideas.

The problem is not with whether such investigations and their elegant and pretty solutions ever need to have application to reality.

The problem is that *this* particular article tries very hard to imply that the mathematical abstraction and that the elegant properties of the diamond abstract crystal might somehow explain the real observed properties of the diamond. To be fair, that may not be the thrust of the actual paper, but there is no doubt that it is the thrust of the summary that describes it and it is this linkage to reality that is hogwash.

The reaction of the OP may seem a bit strong but you need to remember that many people spend a lot of time working on mathematical models that *do* link to reality and this is difficult and usually not pretty at all and it is a bit disrespectful to make such a facile assertion without doing any research.

Re:Article is complete hogwash (3, Informative)

HalfFlat (121672) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940536)

I have to disagree, it really doesn't try very hard to explain the observed properties of diamond in terms of its elegant abstract structure.

There is a single throw away line in the introduction ascribing the refractive properties of diamond to its particular "periodic arrangement of carbon atoms" (which, essentially is true — other arrangements of carbon atoms certainly do not have the same optical properties.) And then the physical properties of diamond are never mentioned again! This is definitely not an article about the physical properties of crystals.

Yes, the summary is crap — but this is slashdot, after all.

Re:Article is complete hogwash (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940532)

All the "beatuty" comes from one optical property based on high crystal dentity: high "optical density" which translates into high optical refracrion index - 2.41. This is much higher than glass (about 1.5) and causes larger partial reflection on polished surfaces (shininess), more common total internal reflection within the boundaries, larger "image shift" (due to larger refraction) for objects observed through non-parallel surfaces of the diamond. That's all (not counting color flavors caused by impurities), forget about that mumbo jumbo in the article.
Although diamond has also other very interesting properties coming from the crystalographic structure (ie fabulous thermal conductivity) that has rather nothing to do with its visual perception...
     

High index of refraction? (1)

shimage (954282) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939892)

I thought that diamonds were beautiful because they had a high index of refraction? Or was I mistaken?

Re:High index of refraction? (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940216)

And how do they get such a high index of refraction?

Re:High index of refraction? (1)

Matt Edd (884107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940496)

Do mainly to the electronic structure which ultimately has little to do with the crystal structure. More precisely the electronic structure uses the crystal structure as a frame but two materials with the same crystal structure can (and usually do) have very different electronic structures. To put it in layman terms.

Re:High index of refraction? (1)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940528)

You're very clever young man, but it's turtles all the way down.

Re:High index of refraction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940290)

Yes, it's as simple as that. I crystal structure AFAIK main effect is to define shape of the crystal, which isn't important when we cut it into a different shape to make it pretty anyway.

What are those elements ? (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21939932)

We'll probably find out when this thing is eventually synthesized, at great cost, that it looks greyish brown, opaque, smells of sulphur, has no valuable electronic characteristics and is best used for plugging holes in trees with.

Hardness (1)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940016)

The next question is...will this K_4 crystal be as hard as a diamond is, or will it be just a lookalike? From what I could tell from TFA, it seems to be the latter.

Omega (1)

Quantenmechaniker (917682) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940028)

I invoke the Omega Directive!
Please step away from your workstations.

Re:Omega (2, Funny)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940088)

Aww, but I prefer Omega 13!

What about other single element crystals in A4 ? (4, Informative)

MrMr (219533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940038)

If the symmetry and isotropy give diamonds their shine, why are crystals of
for instance Si, Ge, Sn not as beautiful? They have the same isotropy and crystal structure.
And why is a low-symmetry sapphire prettier than high-symmetry table salt?
I would guess high index of refraction, and the lack of absorption of optical wavelengths are the more relevant properties.

(see any textbook on crystallography, or for instance http://cst-www.nrl.navy.mil/lattice/ [navy.mil] )

Resistance is futile (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940052)

I don't know if this crystal will be possible to synthesize or not, but it doesn't matter. The schematic alone will be sufficient to cause a feedback loop that will destroy the entire Borg collective.

Re:Resistance is futile (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940214)

In Soviet Russia, the Collective destroys you !

Are diamonds really all that great? (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940166)

You know what's funny?  I look at a diamond, and I see a nice shiny thing, but nothing to get excited about.  It's just not that pretty.  I can't imagine spending much money on one.

DiTriamond (1)

Justabit (651314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940220)

On the whole Diamond vs K-4 debate...K-4 sounds to tecky. To sell it I propose "DiTriamond" as a better name. Triamond is half a hexagon, and Di is 2, and it sounds alot like Diamond so woman will want it. I would not market it as man made especially but as "The rarest most pure substance in the universe" and let them draw their own conclusions. Anyone know how hard it is os might be on the Mohs scale? Or even its electrostatic absorbtion rate cause thats how most jem testing is done. Well, up to the top 1% of the market anyway, and then its gamma absorsion etc.

Existence Proof (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940342)

out of all the crystals that are possible to construct mathematically, just one shares these two properties with the diamond. So far, his K4 crystal exists only as a mathematical object. And nobody knows if it exists -- or if it can be synthesized.


Don't those conditions mean that "K4 == diamond"? Unless diamonds are impossible to "construct mathematically", then if there's only one that shares two of diamond's properties, then that one must be diamond.

So I can say that it exists, it can be synthesized, but if your fiancee catches you, you're not as smart as it looks.

Why are diamonds so shiny and beautiful? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21940534)

The mathematics only explain why they are shiny; they are "so beautiful" because of a stupendous advertising campaign started in the 50s.

in7orMative CUMCUM (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21940758)

our abiHlity To [goat.cx]
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