What's on my mind.

08 September 2009

Great song but you got a bit wrong.

I just watched the videos for "Science is Real", "I'm a Palentologist", and "The Elements" (on YouTube and BoingBoing via i09).* Loved 'em, and I would buy this album if I was spending money on music just now, except TMBG got one little bit wrong:

I know everyone likes the idea of compressing coal to make an diamond - it's a great image but it's wrong. Pure carbon at surface temperatures and pressures is graphite (main ingredient in pencil leads).** Coal is the remains of ancient plants (and algae); it is mostly carbon but it isn't anywhere near pure.

Thank you. Go and sin no more.

And yes, I can be a prick about science.

*Yes, I know, I'm a bit late to the party.
**In fact, diamonds are less stable at surface pressures and temperatures than graphite and would turn into graphite over time if it weren't for the huge energy needed to break the C-C bonds. (At least that's what I remember.) Imagine a bowl on a counter top and a bowl on the floor with a tube in the water of the upper bowl going up to the ceiling and then down to the bowl on the floor - the lower bowl is at a lower potential energy and the water would "want" to get there, but it's gonna take a hell of a lot of energy to get the water up to the ceiling first.

1 comment:

Callan Bentley said...

I thought the same thing... and at the end of "Meet the Elements," they claim that CaSO4 is chalk, not anhydrite. Umm, chalk is CaCO3; that's why it fizzes...