History was written on the morning of 16 July 1945, at 5:29 am in the state of New Mexico.
The night’s calmness was torn apart when the United States Army triggered a plutonium implosion device called the Gadget during the Trinity test – the first test of a nuclear bomb in history. That very moment changed warfare forever.
The released energy was roughly equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT, and it vaporized the 30-meter test tower plus many miles of copper wire between it and the recording equipment.
The fireball fused asphalt, bits of the tower, and copper together with the sand below into a new mineral, trinite, which looks like green glass, according to Sciencealert.
Many decades later, scientists uncovered a secret buried beneath a piece of the trinitite – a unique form of matter known as the quasicrystal, formerly believed to be impossible.
Terry Wallace, a geophysicist of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, explained that quasicrystals are formed under extreme conditions, and they rarely exist on Earth.
“They require a traumatic event with extreme shock, temperature, and pressure. We don’t typically see that, except in something as dramatic as a nuclear explosion,” he added.
Regular crystals (including both the regular table salt and the toughest diamonds) follow the same rule – their atoms are scattered in a lattice structure that repeats itself in 3D space.
Quasicrystals don’t obey that rule – the pattern in which their atoms are disposed of doesn’t repeat.
When the concept was first published in the scientific world nearly four decades ago, the concept was labeled as impossible. Up until that point, scientists believed that crystals are either ordered or disordered, with no in-between.
Then they were finally discovered, both created in laboratory conditions and in the wild, deep within meteorites, produced by thermodynamic shock from events like hypervelocity collisions.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.