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Diamond Seas

With diamondbergs, yet....

Oceans of Liquid Diamond May Exist On Neptune and Uranus

January 18, 2010 by John Messina Diamond

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientist explains how it may be possible for the planets Neptune and Uranus to contain liquid diamond oceans.

The research was conducted by taking detailed measurements of the melting point of diamond. When diamond is melted it behaves like water during freezing and melting, with solid forms floating atop liquid forms. Diamond is a very hard material which makes it difficult to melt. Measuring the melting point of a diamond is very difficult because when it's heated to very high temperatures the diamond changes to graphite.

Since it's the graphite and not the diamond that turns to liquid, scientist are faced with the problem of melting the diamond without it turning to graphite.

Scientists can get around this problem by exposing the diamond to extremely high pressures by blasting it with lasers. The diamond is liquefied at pressures 40 million times greater than that found at Earth's sea level.

When the pressure is lowered to 11 million times greater than Earth's sea level and the temperature drops to about 50,000 degrees, chunks of diamond start to appear.

Scientists discovered something they didn't expect, after the pressure kept dropping the temperature of the diamond remained the same, with more chunks of diamond forming. The chunks of diamond did not sink but floated on top of the liquid diamond, creating diamond icebergs.

(more at link)

See also

Diamond Oceans on the Outer Planets?


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 19th, 2010 05:36 am (UTC)
People say she's crazy, she got diamonds on the soles of Neptune
Jan. 19th, 2010 07:24 am (UTC)
Cosmology is awesome.
Jan. 19th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
I doubt that. the theory overlooks a very important detail - diamond is a fantastic thermal conductor. Even if there was a heat source in the center of these planets hot enough to melt the diamond, the heat would very very rapidly be conducted outward and away by all the diamond, which gets even more thermally conductive under pressure. So all the heat from even a uranium core would quickly dissipate out to the surface.

it's likely that we'll find plain old graphite and diamond.
Jan. 20th, 2010 02:06 am (UTC)
To be honest, I'm still amazed the guy who did the small scale experiment got liquid diamond instead of graphite, incredibly high pressure or not. But it's one heck of an image. :)
Jan. 19th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)

Ever read 2061: Odyssey Three?

"Lucy is here"
Jan. 20th, 2010 02:07 am (UTC)
Nope - should I?
Jan. 21st, 2010 12:12 am (UTC)
"Lucy is here"
Clarke's book "2061: Odyssey Three" is not a bad read. I'm surprised it was never made into an a movie sequel.

Dr. Floyd, long retired (and a healthy old man well who has lived well past 120 thanks to medical advances), is taking a space-ship cruiseliner vacation in the vicinity of Jupiter, when their ship is diverted to rescue another ship that emergency landed on Europa.

If you recall from "2010: Odyssey Two", landing on Europa is a no-no according to the Star-child's people - the makers of the Monolith.

I don't want to say much more without spoilers, but that's the premise. I can only explain the connection to your diamond story if you don't mind spoilers.

There was also a short-story that Clarke wrote called "3001" that was published in Playboy Magazine back in the early 90's, I think. Frank Poole's body (David Bowman's fellow astronaut who was killed by HAL2000 and left to drift in space) returns to earth as a comet, covered in ice, is retrieved from space, and with medical technology of the day, he is revived. The short story centers around Poole's point of view witnessing some of the technological advances made after the discoveries mentioned in "2061".
Jan. 21st, 2010 12:32 am (UTC)
Re: "Lucy is here"
I think I actually saw the one in Playboy, though I don't recall it particularly.

Got the book on order from the library. Thanks!
Jan. 20th, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
I recall that line. It thought it was the neatest thing.
Jan. 20th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
Meh. That's nothing really new. Clarke postulated diamond made up Jupiter's core in 2061, and states he'd read of it, or was told by the one who fisrt postulated the idea near that time.

It would be neat, but if true, the price of diamonds is likely to drop once people get out there and come back. He mentioned that, too.

Not that you or I will see it happen...

Edited at 2010-01-20 09:59 pm (UTC)
Jan. 20th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
The price of diamonds is going to drop the minute DeBeers finally gives up on artificial price supports (mostly by frantically buying up sources). They aren't all that rare.

For that matter, consider the cost of getting anything out of Jupiter's core. If we can do it at all. Would hardly be worth it, except maybe for the novelty.

Edited at 2010-01-20 11:49 pm (UTC)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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