Tag Archives: Glow

How minerals and rocks reflect rainbows, glow in the dark, and otherwise blow your mind

Minerals are the non-living building blocks of the natural world. They form rocks, strengthen our bones and teeth, and even allow our blood to carry oxygen. But even when minerals aren’t assembled into a majestic mountain range or keeping the human body running, they’re still pretty neat.

There are thousands of recognized minerals out there (5,703 to be exact) with many more yet to be discovered. And they come in more hues than you can imagine. “All the colors of the rainbow occur in minerals,” and more, says George Rossman, a mineralogist researching mineral spectroscopy at the California Institute of Technology.

Beyond the striking displays that we see by daylight, many minerals glow with hidden colors under ultraviolet rays. And the coolest part is, their shining colors and otherworldly fluorescence are all thanks to a few small tweaks and imperfections.

What even is a mineral?

Minerals are “considered to be naturally occurring, inorganic solid substances,” Rossman explains. But he says even that definition can sometimes get “fuzzy.” “If a tree decays and leaves some crystalline material behind. Is that mineral or is it a biological material?” he asks. 

Nonetheless, most mineralogists agree that their study objects are solid compounds formed by natural processes and characterized by a single chemical composition and crystal structure. Rocks are made up of many different minerals mixed together, and gemstones are particularly structurally perfect pieces of mineral crystals.    

Although minerals are classified based on their ideal “pure” composition and form, “we’ve got to recognize that nature has 80 some different elements to play with,” Rossman says. “There are little bits of all sorts of minor components. You rarely get something absolutely chemically pure in nature.” Mineral formation is a chemical reaction. The impurities that end up in a mineral and the atomic structure both come from the environment and circumstances it crystalizes in.

[Related: Why can’t we see more colors?]

Further, the classification of a mineral not only depends on its chemical makeup, but also its internal atomic arrangements. “Kyanite, andalusite, and sillimanite are three minerals we find in metamorphic rocks that have exactly the same chemical formula, but different structures,” says Rossman. He also points to one of Earth’s most common minerals, olivine, as an example. Olivine is found at relatively shallow depths in the planet’s mantle, he explains, “but as we go to higher and higher pressures, deeper in the Earth, it transforms into other structural arrangements that are given other names.”

What causes minerals’ wide variety of colors?

The way a material absorbs and reflects different wavelengths of light determines its color. For instance, leaves on a tree are green because chlorophyll absorbs red and blue light, reflecting green and yellow wavelengths back to your eye. 

Knowing how minerals are classified can help us understand why they display so many different colors. Both chemical impurities and atomic structure play a role in color because of how they change a mineral’s light-absorption spectrum.

The mineral collection at the American Museum of Natural History represents almost any color imaginable. From left to right in rows: cuprite, vanadinite, wulfenite (1), wulfenite (2), smithsonite (1), pyromorphite, smithsonite (2), malachite, chrysocolla, malachite with azurite, azurite with malachite, smithsonite (3). Photos: D. Finnin/©AMNH

For instance, a ruby gets its brilliant red color by swapping a little bit of chromium for aluminum in its formula. But if you take the same formula and add titanium or iron instead for chromium, you get a sapphire, says George Harlow, a mineralogist and curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Both of the gems are impure versions of the transparent mineral corundrum.

[Related: How humans created colors for thousands of years]

The same chromium (Cr 3+) that makes rubies red can also lead to the formation of bright green emeralds, due to differences in molecular structure, Rossman explains. In rubies, the chromium atoms are positioned close oxygen atoms. In emeralds, the oxygen and chromium sit farther apart, shifting how the molecules absorb light. 

Why do some rocks glow?

If color is the way a mineral interacts with light, fluorescence is an extension of that.

Light is a form of energy. With non-fluorescent colors, what we see is the result of minerals selectively reflecting wavelengths of light from an outside source back to our eyes. But with fluorescent colors, what happens is a mineral takes in energy from a light source and then produces its own new wavelengths of light.

Some minerals are so fluorescent that you can experience the effect in full sun. Others require higher-energy ultraviolet rays to trigger wavelengths strong enough for human eyes to detect. That’s why when you look at a neon highlighter or a white shirt under a black light, they seem to glow. Both highlighters and white clothing often rely on UV-reactive dyes to look extra-bright in daylight, so they’re fluoresce a little bit in the sun. Under the targeted, high energy rays from the black light, though, their fluorescence is even more obvious.

About 600 minerals are confirmed to glow in the dark, says Glen Waychunas, a mineralogist who studies fluorescence and spectroscopy at the California Institute of Technology. He adds that it’s common in certain places where geological places, like Franklin, New Jersey, where the famed Sterling Hill Mine sits.

Just like with color, fluorescence in minerals is often the product of impurities, called activators. These elements react with UV light to produce fluorescent colors, working in tandem with the minerals they’re in. Some may exhibit different colors with the same activators, and others may not glow at all. In addition, there are impurities called “quenchers” that can stop an activator from working, even if all other conditions are right. And if there’s too much of a single activator, it can “quench” itself, preventing fluorescence. It’s a complex interplay between different atoms.

Structure is also important for understanding fluorescence. Mineral defects, which are like typos or misprints in the structural scaffolding, can leave a little extra space in the matrix—providing a gap for excited electrons to move around in. The particles then absorb energy and dance it out as colorful wavelengths of fluorescent light, even when no activating compounds are present.

Where can I see glowing and rainbow-colored rocks?

This summer, take advantage of the mild weather and explore the geological formations around your home. You might just catch some fluorescence in action. For the best odds, Waychunas recommends minerals hunting at night with a UV flashlight. “Go to an [old] quarry or go to a place with just an outcrop of rocks,” he says. “People will be surprised at what they might find.” Even in areas where fluorescent rocks are less common (this website can tell you what’s good in your neighborhood), the infill at construction sites or landscaping gravel brought in from elsewhere can offer a secret treasure trove of glow. “It’s just another interesting viewpoint of nature to see this phenomenon everywhere,” Waychunas says.

If you strike out searching on your own, you can probably find fascinating examples of fluorescence at your local natural history museum. In New York City, the American Museum of Natural History has a brand new mineral and gem exhibit, where you can see all of the pictured minerals above in person.

Author: Lauren Leffer
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

Joe Biden basks in bipartisan glow, if but for a fleeting moment

For weeks, the Biden White House has pushed forward on bipartisan infrastructure negotiations amid mounting skepticism that anything would materialize. As Republicans scoffed at negotiations and progressive frustration mounted, the president’s aides remained convinced of the savviness of their approach.

In call after call with Democratic lawmakers, White House counselor Steve Ricchetti, one of the president’s closest and most trusted aides, stressed that a bipartisan deal would prove to be a political boon for the president, according to multiple Democratic sources with knowledge of the conversations.

The genesis of Thursday’s agreement started even before Biden officially announced the details of his $ 2 trillion infrastructure proposal in the spring. The White House wanted to lay the groundwork for a deal that not only attracted key centrist lawmakers but could get Republicans on board. So legislative affairs director Louisa Terrell and National Economic Council director Brian Deese headed to the Hill. Among their first visits was Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who gladly laid out her priorities. Among them was the need to help support the electric ferry market. It went the same way with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and ultimately dozens of other lawmakers with whom they met.

“Part of what drove this strategy was a level of consistency, it was multi-track. People were cautioning, they were not sure this is going to work — ‘how can you thread this needle?’” Terrell said in an interview of landing both a bipartisan deal and moving forward with a broader Democrat-only spending plan. “We were talking on the Hill to a wide variety of people. We were hearing it all.”

The next several months would be marked by a flurry of phone calls, in-person meetings, Zoom sessions and Oval Office invitations as the White House lobbied lawmakers and wooed governors and mayors of the opposing party.

Administration officials were dispatched to states with faltering bridges and roads. There were media appearances by Biden himself as well as Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, among others.

On the Hill, the White House team was holding one-on-one meetings with members who were likely to be key players in the bipartisan deal.

“When we moved to this position of this bipartisan group, there was already some relationship building that had gone on,” Terrell said. “We were not walking into a room cold.”

At the same time, that bipartisan group of moderates — many of whom already regularly meet and socialize — continued to talk.

A senior White House official said that it was never the case that the president sought a bipartisan deal for the sake of bipartisanship. Rather, he was carrying out what he considered a mandate from Americans: to find common ground where he could.

Several sources close to the discussions said the White House was long interested in getting Republicans on board, even if it meant accepting a modest offer from them. White House negotiators knew before initial talks even began that the GOP would never agree to reversing the Trump tax cuts or hiking the corporate tax rate. But they’d pledged to be flexible. In an early meeting, Republicans offered that up as their red line, and Biden held up tax increases on those making less than $ 400,000 as his. The two sides kept talking.

The White House was ultimately unable to find a path forward in their first attempt at a deal with a negotiating group led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and made up of just Republicans. But instead of reverting to a Democratic-only plan, they quickly found another group of senators that was ready to negotiate.

That bipartisan group had always been willing to go higher in new spending than the Capito group, a Democratic Hill source said. And the two sides eventually agreed to not touch each other’s red lines when it came to the pay-fors. Led by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Portman, the group gradually came to a bipartisan framework that included close to $ 600 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, Internet and other traditional infrastructure projects.

By the time White House negotiators left their meeting with senators on Wednesday night, they knew they had a deal. They just needed Biden to sign off on it. He did with glee hours later.

“I know the Senate and the House better than most of you know it,” Biden said as he laid out the bipartisan deal in the White House’s East Room, ribbing the reporters in the room who questioned how it would all become law.

Though there still is no legislative language and there remains much work to do in Congress to secure the votes, Biden’s supporters viewed Thursday’s breakthrough as a political triumph.

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who was an adviser on Biden’s presidential campaign, said the word “bipartisan” is less powerful politically than demonstrating an ability to bring people together.

“Finding common ground to unite people on a goal is a very good sell,” she said, noting that they had polling showing this during the campaign. “Women, who are the key swing votes of 2022, will be looking at who was cooperative and who wasn’t,” she said, adding that white suburban women in particular “like cooperation.”

But hurdles remain.

Liberal lawmakers in both chambers fear that the passage of a bipartisan bill focused just on traditional infrastructure will result in a watered-down reconciliation package that is expected to include other priorities like elder and child care, climate change provisions and money for higher education. Others are anxious that the reconciliation package won’t happen at all as moderate Democrats buck at the idea of voting on two trillion-dollar-plus bills.

MoveOn, the progressive advocacy group, immediately moved to launch a national five-figure ad buy on MSNBC next week featuring footage of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) promising he wouldn’t pass an infrastructure package without provisions to reduce carbon pollution and money for child care, paid family and sick leave.

Cognizant of those concerns, Biden on Thursday offered his most explicit promise to date that he was committed to a reconciliation Democrat-only package that would pass in tandem with a bipartisan infrastructure deal.

“I control that,” he said with a smirk. “I expect in the coming months this summer before the fiscal year is over that we will have voted on this bill — the infrastructure bill — as well as voted on the budget resolution. But if this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem.”

That commitment to a two-track strategy prompted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday night to question whether Republicans could end up supporting the infrastructure framework several of his members had just crafted. But it also assuaged progressive lawmakers who were concerned about getting half a loaf.

“It’s the ultimate backstop,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said in an interview, referring to Biden’s comments. “You now have the speaker and the president saying that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.”

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa), likewise, said he was encouraged by Biden’s assurance Thursday that he would reject the bipartisan deal if it reached his desk alone. But, in a reflection of the state of limbo in which the infrastructure negotiations remain, he too said he still had questions.

“I can’t commit to supporting any such bill until I know we’re going to be working on the more substantial part of the American jobs and families plan combined,” Casey said in an interview. “We need to see how the two can be worked on together because I think there’s a lot of Democratic senators that are not going to go along with anything other than both.”

Author: Natasha Korecki and Laura Barrón-López
This post originally appeared on Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

Stacey Dooley flaunts Clairol hair colour after Glow Up 'axe over ad breaching BBC rules'

Stacey Dooley, 34, has appeared to issue a defiant post supporting her collaboration with hair care brand Clairol. The Strictly Come Dancing winner took to Instagram to promote the hair dye kit she created with the beauty brand just minutes after reports emerged that she was “secretly dropped” from hosting Glow Up as her advert breached BBC rules.

Stacey shared a video showing off her signature red locks in view of her 980,000 followers this evening, crediting Clairol for her new look.

The star, who is dating former Strictly pro Kevin Clifton, filmed herself running her fingers through her hair while smiling for the camera at home.

She penned alongside the video: “Box freshhhhhhhhhh.

“My @clairol_uk_ire colour. (YES, I really do use it!)

READ MORE… Dan Walker given marching orders from wife after error

“(Obvs have a working relationship w/Clairol but no obligation to post this)

“And trim by the ACE @eamonnhughes.”

Stacey created the post just moments after The Sun claimed that BBC bosses said Clairol commercials starring the documentary filmmaker showed a clear disregard for its strict impartiality rules.

The adverts, which featured Stacey wearing leotard while flaunting her freshly dyed hair, reportedly prompted her to be axed from her hosting role on BBC Three’s Glow Up before being replaced by Maya Jama this year.

“It was a tricky situation as she does other things for the BBC, but they decided she would lose her Glow Up contract.

“It’s a hair care brand, it’s glossy and glam. Glow Up is all about beauty.

“So, basically, the BBC said, ‘You’re sacked from Glow Up, but you can keep making documentaries that air on the BBC’.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the BBC and Stacey Dooley’s representative for comment. 

Stacey fronted Glow Up for seasons one and two.

She then told fans in October 2020 she would not be presenting the third series due to scheduling conflicts.

Stacey congratulated her replacement, Maya, when she was announced as the new host by posting a sweet picture of the pair.

“Well done superstar…!

“Keep shining @mayajama,” the star wrote alongside the snap.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed