From tequila to Uranus

This is the blog post in which I hope to segue smoothly from tequila to the planet Uranus. Let’s start with tequila. A couple of years ago some Mexican scientists got some press attention by making diamonds from tequila.

I was curious as to why you would want to waste good tequila in this way. One of the scientists, Miguel Ap├ítiga, explains in a Guardian article. Briefly: they were growing films of diamonds from high temperature gases. The diamonds are less than a thousandth of a millimetre across, so a bit small to be a girl’s best friend. This is done from a gas which is a mixture of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Tequila is mostly water and alcohol, and water and alcohol are made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. So if tequila is heated the resulting gas has the right composition to make diamonds. The scientists explain this in a short scientific article. If you scroll down to the bottom you can see an image of genuine made-from-tequila diamonds.

Diamonds also attracted media interest as scientists speculated on rather larger diamonds being found deep within the planets Uranus and Neptune. These planets are thought to have methane in their cores, this may break up at the huge pressures near the centres of the planets, releasing carbon. The question then is: What form is this carbon in?

Diamond is known to be more stable than graphite at high pressures, but it appears that liquid carbon could be even more stable, as it is denser than carbon. This means that applying pressure to diamonds tends to cause them to melt, just as it does with ice. It also means that if Uranus has a liquid carbon core, it may have diamond icebergs in it, as diamonds will float on a sea of liquid carbon.