24 April 2007

London Scientist Finds Kryptonite?

According to this BBC report, a mineral found in a Serbian mine has been identified as "matching [the] unique chemistry" of kryptonite.

According to Dr. Chris Stanley, "Associate Keeper of Mineralogy" at London's Natural History Museum, he analyzed the chemical makeup of the white powdery crystal from Serbia and then (I'm reading between the lines here) Googled the result. The news report quotes him:

Towards the end of my research I searched the web using the mineral's chemical formula -- sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide -- and was amazed to discover that same scientific name, written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luther from a museum in the film Superman Returns.

The new mineral does not contain fluorine (which it does in the film) and is white rather than green but, in all other respects, the chemistry matches that for the rock containing kryptonite.
Hang on a minute there, doctor! A compound that contains fluorine is chemically different from a compound that doesn't. We don't say hydrogen gas "matches the exact chemistry" of water except that it's missing the oxygen--H2 and H2O are different chemicals that behave in different ways. And the color is usually a sign of some chemical differences.

Dr. Stanley and his colleagues seem to acknowledge that fundamental fact by naming the mineral "jadarite," after the region where it was found, in a paper to be published in a future issue of the European Journal of Mineralogy. They've tested the mineral under ultraviolet light, which makes it fluoresce, but I see no sign that they've exposed plants to it.

Why do I suggest that test? Superman fans know there are multiple forms of kryptonite: the original green (harmful to refugees from the planet Krypton), and several forms either altered by natural processes in space or created in laboratories. True white kryptonite harms plant life on all known planets.


Chaucerian said...

Jade compounds are so common -- and so revered in Asian countries -- that I cannot imagine that this particular mineral's qualities are not reasonably common and well-known.

Perhaps an Associate Keeper of Mineralology knows more about this than I do, but I do know one thing: if you leave a word out of a magic spell, it doesn't work any more. I think it's the same with magic minerals.

J. L. Bell said...

I agree with you on principle, of course, but I wouldn't call kryptonite a magic mineral.

Since the planet Krypton was named after an element, it is clearly based on a fundament of science.