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Space Science

The Galaxy's Largest Diamond 364

unassimilatible writes "The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reports 'to impress your favorite lady this Valentine's Day, get her the galaxy's largest diamond.' A newly discovered cosmic diamond is a chunk of crystallized carbon 50 light-years from the Earth in the constellation Centaurus. It is 2,500 miles across and weighs 5 million trillion trillion pounds, which translates to approximately 10 billion trillion trillion carats, or a one followed by 34 zeros. A cheesy, unrealistic simulation is also available. AP has a story as well."
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The Galaxy's Largest Diamond

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  • ppfffttt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phlegmofdiscontent ( 459470 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:09AM (#8278270)
    When the hell are news outlets going to hire writers that at least understand science somewhat and won't dumb it down so far that it becomes just another fluff story next to the one about the cute puppies? Granted, it's cool that scientists can confirm a hunk of crystallized carbon that large, but give me a friggin break....
  • Quite the sparkle? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by loyalsonofrutgers ( 736778 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:09AM (#8278271)
    My understanding is that the vast majority of a diamond's "sparkle" is the result of careful cutting and controlling where the light enters the diamond. Slicing through an otherwise uncut diamond would not be too impressive, I'd imagine. Especially considering the lack of a strong light source.

    Maybe a more worthwhile story would be on the fact that the entire diamond industry is created by incredibly strict control of the supply, which is kept artificially low to dramatically inflate price. If people knew, and accepted, the truth this wouldn't be considered that much more special than the fact that some other planets are just big, big versions of rocks. Gasp!
  • Re:closer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by klasikahl ( 627381 ) <> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:12AM (#8278288) Journal
    Would that not imply that Jupiter is a star-turned-white-dwarf? I'm pretty sure it would. In which case, it is highly unlikely that Jupiter once was a star.
  • Numbers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:19AM (#8278318)
    Phrases like '5 million trillion trillion" are silly. They should put the number's real name, write it out in digits, and-or use scientific notation (or a variant like C-style "e notation"). It ticks me off -- the magnitude is already so large that it's incredibly hard to visualize, so they should put it in the clearest format possible. Do people say "there are sixty hundred hundred hundred hundred people alive on earth"? No, of course not, they say "six billion" or "6,000,000,000". If the people printing this assume that no one knows the words for numbers above a trillion, they could at least use the semi-easily-parsed "followed by n zeros" format consistently.
  • Re:ppfffttt (Score:3, Insightful)

    by azcoffeehabit ( 533327 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:27AM (#8278341)
    yeah seriously, there has to be more to say about this discovery then "you couldnt wear it as a ring" wtf is that about. You would think a group with the name The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics would have a bit more of a profound view on the crystalization(sp?) of a star, than "bill gates couldn't afford it". Oh well, lets hope for a more scientific update on this.
  • Re:Formation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xeriar ( 456730 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:30AM (#8278354) Homepage
    Sort of. Stars will fuse elements into heavier and heavier elements, up to iron (since making heavier elements actually takes energy, any larger atoms are made in negligable quantities outside of supernovas).

    Anyway, my (educated) guess would be that this given star had enough mass to fuse elements up to carbon, but not further - not enough to sustain its continued existance as a 'star', anyway.

    At least, I'm inferring from the article that this star is fast becoming a 'black dwarf' - I could be wrong and this is just a white dwarf in its carbon stage, but by that measure there would certainly be far, far larger diamonds out there (and in great numbers).
  • by ClubStew ( 113954 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @04:35AM (#8278368)

    Actually, the sad thing is that most people seem to already know this but no one does / can do (?) anything to stop them. DeBeers, after all, pretty much controls the majority of diamonds on this planet.

    To give DeBeers the slap in the face they need, maybe we should harvest this white dwarf. Heck, just tell Liz Taylor about this and she'll get that "sparkly" diamond almost half as big as she is in no time!

  • Re:Numbers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by crabpeople ( 720852 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @05:22AM (#8278497) Journal
    " They should put the number's real name"

    well i see they took the same amount of time and effort as you did. do you actually know what a number with 34 zeros behind it is called??
    no? well then. shut the fuck up - it is in the clearest possible format for most people.

    oh and i did bother to google [] for it and the first result tells me that it is 10 decilion to americans, or 10 000 quintillion to the rest of the world.

    dont just bitch, actually try and learn something - its not hard.

  • stupid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by supernova87a ( 532540 ) < minus language> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @06:14AM (#8278620)
    i'm a little tired of astronomers trotting out stupid gimmicks to "market" each one of their discoveries and try to make it sexy. I know that you need a catch line to get people interested and all, but stuff like this is just stupid.

    when I read about a huge diamond in space, I expect a little more than a white dwarf discovery. Come on, this is ridiculous.
  • Re:ppfffttt (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Avishalom ( 648759 ) <vish@cs.h u j i .> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @06:49AM (#8278697) Homepage Journal
    its worst than just a dumbed down version.
    its basically a pun-infested piece stating that 10^34 is bigger than 500.

    a lot bigger.
    very very much so.
  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @07:34AM (#8278800) Journal
    ..diamond would be as cheap as sand... Diamonds already are worth about as much as sand, except that de Beers has pretty much all of them, and they charge what they like...
  • Re:Numbers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @11:06AM (#8279462) Homepage Journal
    do you actually know what a number with 34 zeros behind it is called??

    Yeah, it's called n*10^34 by everyone I'd ever discuss such large numbers with. Assigning an arbitrary and inconsistent name (see your US vs. everybody comment) is just plain dumb. Do you think crypto guys convert between decillions and decajillions when discussing collision rates, or that physicists have any interest in petadillions or hexamuphillions other than when they have to write a press release? No. There's a widely used and accurate naming system for numbers - you just use the numbers themselves. It's easy, it's universal, and it's a Good Thing.

  • by Futurepower(R) ( 558542 ) <> on Saturday February 14, 2004 @11:37AM (#8279626) Homepage

    Thanks for bringing some sanity to this discussion. The author of the original story was just trying to get attention, and probably knows nothing about the physics of stars.
  • by Fubar411 ( 562908 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @11:50AM (#8279700)
    Anyone who knows diamonds would know they look like a friggin light colored rock. The facets shown in the diagram are a result of careful cutting and polishing. Something that doesn't happen in a galaxy far far away.
  • by (F)rank(B)roughton ( 752582 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:04PM (#8280144)
    So true and so sad. A stinking rock and yet people kill for it. God must sit in the heavens and get a big laugh of of this one....
  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brucmack ( 572780 ) on Saturday February 14, 2004 @01:40PM (#8280372)
    Nobody would bother going to space for diamonds, because there are already too many of them down here. We're just supposed to believe that there aren't many so that we can pay a higher price for them.

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