A girl’s (and geek’s) best friend

Facinating article in Wired magazine about diamonds. Scientists have refined two ways to ‘grow’ diamonds — a big payoff could be in future computer chips:

Diamonds, it turns out, are a geek’s best friend. Not only is it the hardest substance known, it also has the highest thermal conductivity – tremendous heat can pass through it without causing damage.

Today’s speedy microprocessors run hot – at upwards of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, they can’t go much faster without failing.

Diamond microchips, on the other hand, could handle much higher temperatures, allowing them to run at speeds that would liquefy ordinary silicon. But manufacturers have been loath even to consider using the precious material, because it has never been possible to produce large diamond wafers affordably.

And on the engagement ring front:

The tussle goes to the heart of the marketing problem for any maker of synthetic gems: How will consumers feel about them?

The mystique of natural diamonds is anything but rational. Part of the allure is their high cost and supposed rarity.

Yet diamonds are plentiful — De Beers maintains vast stockpiles and tightly controls supply.

Kevin Castro, a jeweler in Cedar City, Utah, comes to a surprised halt. “These are awfully pretty,” he says.

I tell him that they are man-made and ask if that bothers him.

“If you go into a florist and buy a beautiful orchid, it’s not grown in some steamy hot jungle in Central America,” he says. “It’s grown in a hothouse somewhere in California. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a beautiful orchid.”

“Do you care that it’s not from De Beers?” I ask.

“De Beers?” he says. “Nobody cares if it’s from De Beers. My clients just want a nice diamond.”

I suppose the only opinion here that matters is that of the girl wearing the ring…

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