Science Podcasts

Naked Scientists episode

Sun, 27th Apr 2008

The Sparkling Science of Gemstones

Diamonds (c) Mario Sarto

Stunning sapphires, dazzling diamonds and red rubies abound in this week's sparkling edition of the Naked Scientists in which we find out how gemstones are formed, what makes them so beautiful and why they're so rare.  We also reveal the tricks used by experts to flush out fake stones, and discover how synthetic diamonds can make better lasers, more powerful electronics, sweeter tweeters and cutting-edge scalpels.  Plus, why a mongoose could be your best friend in a minefield, how a good breakfast leads to more male births and, in Kitchen Science, how to grow some beautiful crystals at home!

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 19:36 - Do chimpanzees have to trim their toenails?

    Chimps are supposed to have 99% of the same DNA as humans. Us humans have to cut and maintain our toenails and fingernails. Do chimpanzees have to do this?

  • 20:22 - Sparkling Science

    Just what is so special about gemstones? We spoke to Ian Mercer of the Gemological Association...

  • 27:34 - How do geodes form?

    How do geodes form and why do they sparkle?

  • 29:04 - Detecting a Dodgy Diamond

    How can we be sure that when we buy jewellery it is the real deal? To find out, Meera went to pay a visit to the diamond specialists at De Beers.

  • 34:49 - Diamonds in Industry

    You may have heard of using diamonds to cut glass or harden drill bits, but lasers? Scalpels? Chris Wort joins us from Element 6, who make synthetic diamonds for a huge range of industrial uses...

  • 42:05 - Are there precious stones in Edinburgh?

    Edinburgh is built on a huge block of granite and you said that gems can often be found in granite. Why arenít we looking to Edinburgh as the gem-Mecca of the north?

  • 43:19 - Running Out of Oil

    During the 1970s we were told oil would run out by the year 2000 but then new reserves were discovered. We're now told 2100 is when we'll be starved of oil. Is it possible we'll find more oil reserves in time and why have we missed them before? Can the price of oil make smaller r...

  • 54:07 - What is tanzanite and where is tanzanite found?

    What is tanzanite? Apparently it comes from only Tanzania which is why itís so rare. Is this true?

 

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Hey. What would be a great name for a gemstone based science fair project? Reephy, Fri, 12th Oct 2012

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