More Science Discovery – Rocks of Light

No this is not a title of a story, but I wish it was…

Sometimes collecting odd facts come together to form a nice little theme… the ‘final’ fact was the discovery of what causes baryte to glow. See here for the details. What is special about this stone is that if exposed to sunlight or flames it glows in the dark for hours.


But there are other stones that do things light-wise. There’s a very rare gem called Alexandrite. And look how it changes when it is moved from daylight to incandescent light…


And then there’s amethyst. It is generally believed that natural lemon colour of citrine may have occurred as a result of heat from magnetic bodies in close vicinity transforming the color of amethyst. In fact there are some stones where one end is amethyst and the other is citrine. I was told by others that amethyst naturally turns to citrine over a look period of time.


So what has all this got to do with science fiction?

Well, I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with Anne McCaffrey’s Crystal Singers, even though today’s technology has made the novel feel outdated. Beyond her series I can’t off hand think of any stories that involved what I’m going to call scientific crystal technology.

Yet, with each of the above stones, stories do suggest themselves, based on their respective properties. The baryte could be the stone in a ‘wizard’s wand’ – think Gandalf in the mines of Moria. The Alexandrite could be used as camouflage and the Amethyst in a subplot to have the stone change colour without being touched by anything.

Over to you writers… I’ve other projects I must be working on… don’t ask…


2 thoughts on “More Science Discovery – Rocks of Light

  1. David Brin had alien lifeforms populating the universe – and meeting humans – via crystals, in his book Existence. I think crystals continue to delight the senses and can inspire us to speculate on what might be…

    1. Hello Bib,

      I’m afraid that is in my to be read pile… but transducers in sonar systems use amongst other things quartz and tourmaline crystals because of their piezoelectric properties. Basically they change shape when subjected to electric or magnetic fields to produce noise. I wonder if this had anything to do with either Anne McCaffrey’s or David Brin’s uses of crystals e.g. it was the inspiration of their ideas.

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