A few days ago I blogged about an important story involving the creation of the metallic form of hydrogen by scientists at Harvard for the first time in human history. It is, as the following article shared by Ms. C. states, a goal that scientists have been pursuing for over 80 years. But now, as the following article also states, the sample - just a few microns in size, has now disappeared. But what caught my eye was the manner of its disappearance, which as you might imagine, has fueled today's high orbital speculation:
Here's the exact description of the catastrophic failure that led to the depressurization of the "diamond vice" that created the pressures to produce the metallic form of hydrogen:
However, Science Alert reports that the sample has disappeared, much to the dismay of experts. The sample was stored at temperatures around -316 degrees Fahrenheit, the report said, noting that the metallic hydrogen was kept at high pressure between two diamonds in a vice-like device.
Isaac Silvera, Harvard’s Thomas D. Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences, who led the research, told Fox News that scientists were preparing to transport the sample to Argonne National Laboratory to determine its structure by X-ray analysis. "Before transporting we decided to use our apparatus and remeasure the pressure to see if it had changed," he explained, via email, adding that a very low power laser beam was shone onto the sample through the diamonds. "We heard a noise and the diamonds had catastrophically failed."
When the scientists opened the diamond anvil cell they discovered that one diamond was badly cracked and the other was pulverized into a fine powder. "The gasket confining the sample of metallic hydrogen was damaged and we could not find any residual of the sample (which was very small, about 10 microns in diameter)," explained Silvera. "We did not determine if it is metastable; it might have survived the shock or it might have transformed to molecular hydrogen." (Emphasis added)
So we have:
1) Very cold temperatures (necessary, one can imagine, to maintain the conditions to create and sustain the metallic form of hydrogen);
2) the sample was stored between two diamonds which were in "a vice-like device", i.e., under extreme pressure, and therefore, under extreme stress;
3) the diamonds were then further stressed by a low-power laser beam, resulting in
4) one diamond being cracked and
5) the other being reduced to a fine powder.
And, with the failure of the high-pressure "vice grip" on the hydrogen, it disappeared, and we may assume, as the article indicates, it may have transformed or resumed its molecular gaseous form (which in my view is likely, though it is just remotely conceivable that under these conditions it might have fused, in which case there would be minor trace elements from that reaction that could have been detected. Why? Because the hydrogen is already under high pressure stress in order to create its metallic form, which, under the further stress of the laser, might have initiated that reaction, releasing enormous amounts of energy from its tiny micron-sized sample, enough, in fact, to crack one, and pulverize another, diamond. In short, we could be looking at one of three possible things: (1) a reaction coming from the diamonds themselves under immense pressure stress and electromagnetic pulsing from the laser (perhaps thus a resonance effect), or (2) a possible fusion reaction from the metallic hydrogen itself under the laser pulse, or (3) some combination of both.
Of course, all of this is high octane speculation based on what information the article gives. But if any one of these three things is even remotely suspected, I suspect that scientists will be giving close - and highly classified - attention, and not simply for the importance of creating metallic hydrogen, but rather, because of this propitious accident (if accident it really was).
Recall that the former Naval Observatory Astronomer and Astrophysicist Dr. Tom van Flandern revived the 19th century theory that the asteroid belt was an exploded planet. In his book, which I reviewed in my book The Cosmic War, he proposed a number of methods that could account for the spontaneous explosion of a planet. One of them was a "containment mechanism" at the core of the planet that contained anti-matter. But now, shift the focus a bit and imagine enough metallic hydrogen contained under the immense pressures in the core of a planet, which, incidentally, is the same process scientists believe transforms ordinary carbon into diamonds. All one would have to do to explode the planet would, perhaps, be a sudden "catastrophic failure" of the containment mechanism. Simply stress the core containment mechanism to the point it cannot damp the stress, it fails, and... well... ka-boom.
It would be akin to pricking the surface of a balloon filled with air to maximum extent with a needle.
See you on the flip side...