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Math Science

Mathematician Theorizes a Crystal As Beautiful As A Diamond 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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Mathematician Theorizes a Crystal As Beautiful As A Diamond

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  • I'm sure... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Deltaspectre ( 796409 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @03:45AM (#21939552)
    that the women won't think it as beautiful as a (natural) diamond!
  • Re:I'm sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ludomancer ( 921940 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @03:52AM (#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.

  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @03:53AM (#21939612) Journal
    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.
  • by Bo'Bob'O ( 95398 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @04:02AM (#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:I'm sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @04:08AM (#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

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @04:13AM (#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:I'm sure... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by syousef ( 465911 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @04:18AM (#21939762) Journal
    ... 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.
  • by ConanG ( 699649 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @04:22AM (#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.
  • by catbutt ( 469582 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @04:30AM (#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 great (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2008 @05:32AM (#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:I'm sure... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ( 1195047 ) <philip.paradis@p ... net minus author> on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:21AM (#21940368) Homepage Journal
    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...

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:24AM (#21940378) Journal
    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.
  • Re:I'm sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim Browse ( 9263 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:52AM (#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.

  • by Tlosk ( 761023 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @07:56AM (#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.
  • I thought... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by solitas ( 916005 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @09:02AM (#21941072)
    ...that diamonds were "shiny and beautiful" because the cut pattern was optimized for the refractive index of the material and the final shape of the stone - so you'd get the most reflection & refraction - and that other cuts are optimized for the various materials used in fake stones to try to maximize the same effects.

    Diamond is just a very ordered lattice, and it sounds to me like this mathematician is just out to get his name published.
  • Re:I'm sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The One and Only ( 691315 ) * <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Monday January 07, 2008 @09:07AM (#21941092) Homepage
    It doesn't matter where your diamond in particular comes from. If you buy a diamond at all, you're contributing to the high demand for diamonds. It's the same reason that US oil consumption props up the Saudis, even if we buy more oil from Canada than we do from Saudi Arabia.
  • Re:I'm sure... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Corporate Troll ( 537873 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @09:14AM (#21941140) Homepage Journal

    That cool...

    The correct way to ask a woman is not on your knees holding a diamond ring. The correct way is too drink too much, ask her if you should ask. Then she says: Try it.... Then you do, she says "yes" and the next day you wake up with a heck of a hangover and you're engaged (At least you vaguely remember it, depending on the amount of drinks.)

    Then you go shopping together for the engagement ring, and she'll probably choose something way less expensive than what you would have chosen. (Minde didn't get a diamond: a nice white pearl/white gold ring... very beautiful and not that expensive)

    Well, okay, forget the part about drinking, but just asking without anything to back it up and then shop together for the ring is much nicer.

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

    by Peaker ( 72084 ) <gnupeaker@yahoo.ERDOScom minus math_god> on Monday January 07, 2008 @09:19AM (#21941182) Homepage

    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.
    By requiring that the male spend a lot of resources on the gift, the female:
    1. Makes it less likely that this male is wasting his efforts on competing females.
    2. Gets proof that the male has enough resources that its worthwhile for him to spend many of them on her.

    Its simply the manifestation an evolutionary mechanism: the handicap principle [].
  • Re:I'm sure... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ePhil_One ( 634771 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @09:29AM (#21941258) Journal
    2 carats, no inclusions, and a D - completely colorless. Essentially, diamonds don't come any higher quality

    Thats 3 of the 4 C's, Carat, Clarity, and Color. A bad cut could definately impact the appearance of even a high quality core stone like that, and if the diamond wasn't certified, there's a lot of leeway in what the merchants call color D and no inclusions. (was it truely flawless under a 10x scope (IF or FL) or mearly to the unaided eye? Even w/ a bad cut and "no visible inclusions to the unaided eye, VS2), that would be a $20K stone, $30k if well cut, and was truely "ideal cut" and IF thats an $80k stone discounted.

    Man made stones are still having trouble getting past .5 carats when I last checked. Moissanite looks good, but check w/ the one you love before substituting. Its not about the money but about trust, truthfullness, and respecting what she wants. When I spoke to my fiancee about it, and the various trade-offs (she loved that I already knew the trade-offs), we wound up going a non-traditional route that I would never have chosen by myself. I still spent what I budgeted, but the result is both stunning and practical (huge solitaires have lots of impracticalities it turns out); and it now represents not only the promise to marry her but how well we communicate.

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

    by smilindog2000 ( 907665 ) <> on Monday January 07, 2008 @10:17AM (#21941596) Homepage

    Its not about the money but about trust, truthfullness, and respecting what she wants.

    There's a particular kind of sea bird that nests in the SF Bay Area. To find a mate, the male goes into the bay, and brings back the biggest fish it can catch. Females wait on shore for a particularly good offer from a male who can provide a big fish.

    That's what diamonds are... just big fish.
  • by chrish ( 4714 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @10:21AM (#21941626) Homepage
    Buy Canadian diamonds. Not only are the mines not owned by DeBoers, but we've got labour laws!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 07, 2008 @11:03AM (#21942014)
    Nothing is quite as shiny as pure human misery.

    Hence the success of Springer, it's shiny cousin Tabloid TV and that dirty offspring Reality TV.
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:57PM (#21943262) Journal
    No value to the receiver? How would that be selected for by evolution? You know what most women would actually prefer over a diamond? A down payment on a house. A nice little nest to raise some babies in says, "trust me, I'll provide for you." A sparkly gem that costs as much as a down payment on a house says, "I'm an idiot who will make poor choices about resource allocation without consulting you first." That is why marketing of diamonds is geared towards convincing men tosurprise a woman with a diamond. If they'd asked first, most women would say, "No, I'd like a house more than a sparkly rock." This is from DeBeers own research on the subject.
  • by Swave An deBwoner ( 907414 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @04:31PM (#21946190)

    Wouldn't that make glass, or at best quartz?
    That's probably why the cartoon author titled it "The Glass Necklace".
  • Against (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mark_MF-WN ( 678030 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:21AM (#21950520)

    So if you are against buying diamonds because some of them are blood diamonds, you should be against very many things.
    Yes, you should.

    But let's compare:

    1. Buying diamonds: supports an industry that fund slavery and wars of genocide. Leads to extensive Human misery, and keeps Africa poor and backwards, as well as providing a breeding ground for extremism that may one day become a very serious problem for western nations... not to mention preventing the development of a potentially huge market for western goods, ultimately hindering our own economic success.
    2. Using Bittorrent: potentially puts the RIAA and MPAA out of business, resulting in there being two fewer lobby groups corrupting the democratic process and paying to have our rights taken away. Musicians have to spend more time touring, which benefits us consumers and creates far more jobs than producing and selling albums ever could. The entire economy benefits as a result.
    People who aren't goddam fucking morons can tell that these things are radically different.

    But yes, you should be against supporting any market that fuels warfare, genocide, and slavery. You don't particularly need to avoid supporting the heinous act of sharing though.

  • Re:I'm sure... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Corporate Troll ( 537873 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @03:55AM (#21950906) Homepage Journal

    then they wasted their money doing the advertising. I'm not that brain-washable.
    But you bought one, didn't you? Seems that the advertising worked just fine.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.