Friday, January 21, 2011

OMG SHINY! - Watermelon Tourmaline.

If you were ever a kid -and you were, admit it- you have seen 'rainbow' lollipops, popsicles, and other forms of tooth rot layered with colorful bands. This barrage of artificial colors and/or flavors is extremely appealing to humans, possibly because we are among the few mammals (yes, I'm ragging on mammals during SHINY WEEK) able to see color. Plus, sugar is sugar.

Disco sticks?

 Nature has beaten humanity to the 'banded things that should not be' punch yet again. Imagine how easily one could mistake this stone for a particularly decorative piece of rock candy:

All one would have to do is wrap that in plastic and slap a "watermelon" flavor label on it. Scientists have not been stupid enough to do the former, in part because they would get sued, but they do call that crystal "watermelon tourmaline." Gee, I wonder why?

Tourmaline contains boron, silicon, and any number of trace elements. It was first discovered in Sri Lanka and brought to Europe. We presume that it was colorful tourmaline like the watermelon specimen above; tourmaline was actually a lot more common than Europe thought it was for one simple reason.

Not all tourmaline is as pretty as the watermelon slice up there. Ninety-five percent of tourmaline is bland. Very bland. The most common type of tourmaline, schorl (which sounds like something out of a RPG), is gray, only slightly shiny, and makes Rice Krispies seem exciting. Other species of tourmaline are far more colorful. Most of them can be found in Brazil.

C'mon, Willy Wonka, make tourmaline candy. While you're at it, agates and several other stones would make great gummi slices, and snowflake obsidian would make excellent licorice. Take rock candy to a whole new level!

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