Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | February 17, 2008

The Rock Wakes Up

Alaska.  August 12, 2007.


The rock slept.  Deep inside, carbon atoms twisted and flashed, dancing as atoms dance even in the most still and ancient stone.  To you or I the dance is random: electrons and protons and neutrons buzzing together and bursting apart.  But to scientists on a different world entirely, such randomness cannot be: the dance must contain the secret of the universe.

The dance slowed, then.  Pressure from the weight of an entire planet pushed a single electron off course.  It hit a nearby nucleus.  Click.

The rock shivered.  Deep down, a vein of crystal, perfect hexagons of perfectly balanced atoms, built itself like ice forming on a lake.  Slowly, slowly… to you or I the dance was millions of years in the making.  The hexagons thousands upon thousands of years in the forming.  But the rock had time.

You and I were long gone when the final electrons spun into stable orbit within the perfectly align vertices.  The rock now contained a prefectly faceted crystal, a shape more perfect and complete than any that had ever emerged on this world or any other.  This was a diamond on which every flat surface reflected a starred lattice of angles and glittering light.

The rock woke up.

“Wow,” it thought.  “It’s bright out here.”


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