Friday, June 22, 2007


Inferiority complex

You may or may not know that our group grows crystals. We use a technique that usually renders a much higher quality crystal than others, specifically hydrothermal vs. melt techniques. It isn't the best or fastest way to grow them but we can grow compounds that no one else can.

We're very happy with nice pretty crystals that range in size from 1-10 mm. Yeah, millimeters. Then if they have interesting properties and someone wants a larger one, we can do that. But even then we're only talking about a few centimeters. The largest single crystal I've seen is a quartz crystal grown by Bell Labs and it was about 10 inches long and several inches thick. Huge by our crystal growing standards. However time and time again, Mother Nature has to show up and prove she's the baddest bitch on the block. Check out the crystals that she grew.

Damn. Damn damn. The first official scientific expedition went into the Crystal Cave of the Giants in the Naica Mine in Naica mountain in the Chihuahua state of Mexico. We're already planning a field trip. No we weren't invited on the first expedition. They chose spelunkers and geologists from all over the world, but not us crystal growers. Maybe next time. You can check out the blog of the expedition here. We're still waiting for that final report. Maybe they're waiting to publish it in a journal rather than a blog. The only problem is that the humidity and 60 degrees Celsius (136 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature inside the cave make it an inhospitable environment for humans but obviously the crystals can't get enough. The crystals, if you were wondering, are gypsum, or calcium sulfate dihydrate CaSO4ยท2H2O.

Here are a few other websites discussing La Cueva de los Cristales:
Crystallinks page
Official National Geographic page with the best quality pics
Giant Crystal Project website

I also found this interesting. I got it from Cynical Chris who got it from Information Aesthetics who got it from Strangemaps.

It's a map of the USA with each state renamed for the country that its GDP most resembles. So if you live in Cali, then your state has the same GDP as France and over here in SC, we are comparable with Singapore. Other notables, Alabama is on par with Iran and J's home state actually coincides with the country where she was born, Florida. Although next time I'm in Iran, I probably won't start the conversation with "Hey, my state which is near the bottom of the US in most statistics has the same GDP as your whole country!"

Sure we have more money than most of the rest of the world but we pay for it. Hey, you in Costa Rica, how much do you pay for papaya? I paid $1 and it was on sale from $2. I pay $1 per mango. Oranges are $0.69 a piece. Sure we make more money but our cost of living is also much much higher than most of those countries. So to all the hopeful immigrants, just take a second and appreciate your local market with its fresh fruit, fresh meat and its relatively low prices before jumping on that boat or into the back of that van.

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