As researchers were cleaning a crystal encased in meteorite with a diamond based solution, they discovered something incredible. The carbon based minerals within had formed in a way that was harder than diamond, the previously thought hardest naturally occurring mineral. The find may shatter what we think of in terms of carbon minerals as we know them.
Tristan Ferroir, one of the scientists studying the meteorite admits quickly that the discovery was quite accidental, but says that the study of the meteorite was launched with the intention of learning about the formation of carbon minerals. It’s then quite understandable how shocked the French scientist was when the crystals within the meteorite proved harder than any naturally occurring mineral currently known in the universe.
The mineral harder than diamond, once thought something to be a paranormal legend spoken of by those on the fringe of mineralogy has now been confirmed, and it’s sending shockwaves throughout the field. Already those involved in researching the mineral, which came from the Havero meteorite, are attempting to find ways to explain the formation of such a material. With the absolute melting point of diamond finally discovered early in 2010, understanding of the “unbreakable” material is only just now beginning. And as soon as it was beginning to look like someone would finally put a crack in the shell of this mystery, another material even harder than diamond appears.
The Mohs scale of hardness rates minerals discovered on a scale of 1 to 10, in which the softest minerals are labeled as a 1 and the hardest mineral, diamond is a 10. Until recently the Mohs scale was everything required to describe naturally occurring minerals. With this new discovery, the Mohs scale will no doubt have to be modified or replaced by a new scale that makes room for the incredibly hard new material. Unfortunately, since the sample of the material is so small, it will be impossible to test if it is harder than the manmade ultra-hard diamonds such as Ionsdaleite, and Boron-nitrade.
It’s suspected that the thus far unnamed material was made through a process similar to synthetic diamond creation while in the depths of space. Of course this is yet another reminder to scientists that longtime considered constants in the fields of mineralogy may be completely different in space. If the hard nature of diamond in its natural environment is suddenly no longer a universal constant, but rather a mere comparison to other Earthly materials, then it’s clear that other laws may be different as well. With different gravitational pulls, temperatures, and other factors, there’s no telling what other surprises may be out there. And from the looks of it, we needn’t look further than our own planet to find these mysteries literally falling from the skies and landing all around us.
So where did this material come from? Is the environment it was formed in the type of environment that would create other discoveries to turn the scientific field on its head? As the researchers set out to discover what this new material tells us about the universe, only time will tell us how little we truly know about even the physical observable universe.