Finding Diamonds

Beginning a series of posts based on my opinion column written for the Egremont 2Day newspaper. Occasionally I’ll add in a theatre review which I also write for the same publication. This one was one of my first and was written for the anniversary of the shootings in our local town of Whitehaven.

Diamonds are everywhere.
I’m fascinated that these rocks – the hardest found naturally on earth are made of Carbon – something we breathe in and makes up nearly 20% of our bodies.
Carbon is an incredibly versatile element. Carbon atoms link together in many different ways making the element act completely differently. It’s the black powder on your burnt toast, the grey stuff inside your pencil and the fancy stone in your partner’s jewelry – which glitters beautifully yet when mined out of the ground is an ugly piece of stone.
Diamonds have to be carefully crafted by hand to become glittering gems of dazzling beauty. The crystalline structure which gives carbon strength is also the reason diamonds catch light so well. The structure traps rays, refracts them and bends them into the spectrum giving you a wash of rainbow colour when you peer in.
Now here’s a very strange fact: You can make millions of diamonds in your own home instantly! I’m not joking – honestly. Go find a candle. Now light it. Peer into the flame. Do you see them?
Perhaps not – but they are there, I assure you. In 2011, Dr Wuzong Zhou of St. Andrew’s University found that candles create around 1.5 million diamond nanoparticles every second. He used a new technique to remove the centre of the flames and was astonished to find four forms of carbon generated as the waxy hydro-carbon molecules are burned at the wick to become water vapour and carbon dioxide at the top. Peer at that candle flame for just four seconds and you’ll see 6 million diamonds flash in and out of existence.
Facts like this really make me go “wow!”
I had the pleasure of teaching science to teenagers for six years in Bangladesh. As I taught them some of the wonders of the universe I couldn’t help but feel an awe of God. The popular view today is that science and faith are enemies but my love of science actually makes my faith in God stronger; I know countless science-educated believers who feel the same.
It isn’t science but God which makes me look around Cumbria to find diamonds. This is just as well as I get used to living in a ‘foreign’ Western world again; as I look around Egremont, I see diamonds everywhere. You can’t see them in the candle flame but you can in the hills, lakes and streams. You can see them in people all around. The perversity of humanity is that we look at shining jewels and see nothing but dirty rocks not realizing we’re responsible for making sure the diamonds in our life really shine.
Four years ago one man ended his life forgetting this and took some diamonds which didn’t belong to him. On the fourth anniversary of that terrible tragedy it’s a good time to remember our diamonds now and do our part to make them shine now. Look at the candle flame, and remember even diamonds can disappear without warning.
Diamonds are everywhere; just look a little harder and you’ll see them – sparkling.


2 thoughts on “Finding Diamonds

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