Tuesday, July 23, 2024

“Exotic” minerals and new discoveries. Space is a mine of curiosity


But science only advances through teamwork

The meteorite was officially found in Somalia, East Africa, in 2020, although its history is lost in time, and it seems that the locals also celebrate it in their ancient songs and poems. Because in ancient times, finding a stone that fell from the sky, over two meters in size and weighing fifteen tons (like a dozen cars together!) was something worth ending up in songs and poems. Today, however, it is something that ends up in laboratories: in particular, a fragment of this meteorite was analyzed at the University of Alberta, Canada, where Chris Hurd, professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, noted that some parts of the sample could not have been identified. Under the microscope. So he had the help of a colleague, Andrew Lowcock, who understood that the two unknown substances were minerals never before seen in nature.

One of these two minerals was named “elaliite” after the meteorite, which was named “Al-Ali” after the Somali city in which it was discovered. The other, however, is called the almost unpronounceable name, “elkinstantonite,” in honor of Lindy Elkins-Tanton, a project vice president at the University of Arizona who wants to send a probe to an asteroid to find new minerals.

This discovery can help scientists understand many things about how the world and the universe work, but it can also help us understand how science works: What was once a stone for one person has become an important discovery thanks to those who found it, to those who studied it, and to those who sought help to understand it. Better. In fact, discoveries almost always arise from teamwork.

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