Watch This Band Create Music on 'Ringing' Boulders

Pay a visit to Ringing Rocks state park in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania during its busier months and you’ll be greeted by bell-like sounds reverberating through the air. The noise is the result of the park’s sonorous boulders, which can only be found in a handful of places on earth. When struck with a hammer, the rocks produce a clear metallic tone similar to that of a bell.

It’s not exactly a conventional space to write music, and that’s what attracted the band Square Peg Round Hole to the area. The instrumental percussionist trio recently went to the park’s 7-acre boulder field to perform a song using nothing but hammers and the rocks in front of them. In their description of the video, the band writes, "When we discovered Ringing Rocks Park, we knew that it would be an inspiring place for us to write and play music. As percussionists, we are always searching for unorthodox sound sources, and are often finding new instruments in unexpected places.” You can listen to the final result in the video above.

This isn’t the first musical performance the ringing rocks have inspired. In 1890, Dr. J.J. Ott collected a number of stones from the site and played them for the Buckwampum historical society. (It was a "rock concert" in the truest sense of the term.)

Why exactly these sonorous or lithophonic rocks ring remains a bit of a mystery. A geologist named Richard Faas sampled a few of the stones back in 1965 and took them back to his lab to better understand their musical properties. He found that when the rocks were struck they produced tones lower than what the human ear can perceive, and the audible frequencies were created by the interactions of these different low tones. This means the boulders can only function as musical instruments when accompanied by other rocks of their kind.

Geologists still haven’t agreed on the physical mechanism that gives the rocks their unique abilities, but some suspect it has to do with the freeze-thaw cycle that helped create them thousands of years ago. Other less scientifically-sound theories include radioactivity, abnormal magnetic fields, and supernatural sources.

Courtesy of Gem Diamonds Ltd.
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Fifth Largest Diamond in The World Discovered in Southern Africa
Courtesy of Gem Diamonds Ltd.
Courtesy of Gem Diamonds Ltd.

The Letšeng diamond mine in the southern African nation of Lesotho is known for producing large, high-quality gems. As Bloomberg reports, a massive diamond uncovered there recently is the mine's most impressive yet. The 910-carat stone is roughly the size of two golf balls and weighs more than a billiard ball.

The diamond is thought to be the fifth largest ever discovered on Earth. Gem Diamonds Ltd., the company behind the discovery, said in a statement [PDF] that the "exceptional top quality diamond is the largest to be mined to date and highlights the unsurpassed quality of the Letšeng mine."

Beyond its size, the diamond is also remarkable for its purity. The D color Type IIa status means there are little to no nitrogen atoms muddying its color. Though Gem Diamonds hasn't revealed their price, the diamond is likely worth a huge amount: up to $40 million, analyst Ben Davis tells Bloomberg.

That's a steep price, but it's nowhere near the highest ever paid for a diamond at auction. Rare colored diamonds tend to fetch the highest bids: In 2015, the Blue Moon diamond sold for $48.5 million, and in 2017 the Pink Star was auctioned off for $71.2 million, making it the most expensive diamond of all time.

[h/t Bloomberg]

Mysterious 'Hypatia Stone' Is Like Nothing Else in Our Solar System

In 1996, Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat discovered a tiny, one-ounce stone in the eastern Sahara. Ever since, scientists have been trying to figure out where exactly the mysterious pebble originated. As Popular Mechanics reports, it probably wasn't anywhere near Earth. A new study in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta finds that the micro-compounds in the rock don't match anything we've ever found in our solar system.

Scientists have known for several years that the fragment, known as the Hypatia stone, was extraterrestrial in origin. But this new study finds that it's even weirder than we thought. Led by University of Johannesburg geologists, the research team performed mineral analyses on the microdiamond-studded rock that showed that it is made of matter that predates the existence of our Sun or any of the planets in the solar system. And, its chemical composition doesn't resemble anything we've found on Earth or in comets or meteorites we have studied.

Lead researcher Jan Kramers told Popular Mechanics that the rock was likely created in the early solar nebula, a giant cloud of homogenous interstellar dust from which the Sun and its planets formed. While some of the basic materials in the pebble are found on Earth—carbon, aluminum, iron, silicon—they exist in wildly different ratios than materials we've seen before. Researchers believe the rock's microscopic diamonds were created by the shock of the impact with Earth's atmosphere or crust.

"When Hypatia was first found to be extraterrestrial, it was a sensation, but these latest results are opening up even bigger questions about its origins," as study co-author Marco Andreoli said in a press release.

The study suggests the early solar nebula may not have been as homogenous as we thought. "If Hypatia itself is not presolar, [some of its chemical] features indicate that the solar nebula wasn't the same kind of dust everywhere—which starts tugging at the generally accepted view of the formation of our solar system," Kramer said.

The researchers plan to further probe the rock's origins, hopefully solving some of the puzzles this study has presented.

[h/t Popular Mechanics]


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