True or False LithoQuiz
by Richard Busch
Lithosphere (May 1994);
Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society, Inc.; Fallbrook, CA
It's time for our first-ever LithoQuiz. Answer
TRUE or FALSE
to the following statements. Look for the answers below.
- During or after World War II, the U.S. Navy took a
topaz-elbaite specimen from the mineral collection of the San
Diego Natural History Museum and dumped it in the Pacific
- In the prehistoric past, whales had feet.
- Breaking with tradition, transuranium element 106 has
been given the name seaborgium -- the only element to be
named after a living person.
- The state fossil of Maryland has never actually been
found in the state of Maryland.
- The potato-shaped asteroid, Ida, has its own moon.
- The world's largest blue diamond, the Hope Diamond,
fluoresces red under ultraviolet light.
- NASA is making plans to look for fossils on the planet
- If you stuck your rock hammer into lava flowing from
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, the hammer would not melt.
- Scientists have discovered a 1.8 billion year old nuclear
reactor in Africa.
- The mineral quartz has been recently discredited.
- A very fine topaz-elbaite matrix specimen weighing about
150 pounds was mined in 1905 from the Little Three Mine
main dike in Ramona, California. It was on display for many
years at the San Diego Chamber of Commerce until it was
moved to the then newly opened Natural History Museum.
During World War II, the Navy took over the museum and the
displays were crated and stored. The specimen was never seen
again. It is probable that it was hauled out to sea with a barge
of junk and dumped. [Reference: Foord, E. E.; "Gem-Bearing
Pegmatites of San Diego County, California;"
Geological Excursions in Southern California and
Mexico; M. J. Walawender and B. B. Hanan, Editors]
- Paleontologists digging in Pakistan unearthed the 50
million year old fossilized remains of a whale, named
Ambulocetus natans, which had large,
functional legs and feet. Scientists believe that modern whales
evolved from four-legged carnivorous mammals that lived on
land. In the Eocene period (roughly 57 million years ago), the
land dwelling mammals migrated to the oceans, lost their legs
and pelvises, and developed the fluked tail characteristic of
today's whales. [Reference: Science; 1/14/94
via Science News; 1/15/94]
- Transuranium element 106 was discovered in 1974 but
remained unnamed for twenty years due to a dispute over
which research team found it first. After an arbitrator gave
credit to Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratories, the California scientists named the element
seaborgium (Sg) in honor of 82 year old Glenn Seaborg, the
Nobel Prize winning physicist who codiscovered plutonium and
nine other transuranium elements. As a result, seaborgium has
become the only element to be named after a living person.
[Reference: Science News; 3/19/94]
- In 1984, Maryland state legislators designated
Ecphora quadricostata as the state fossil.
Unfortunately, the official Maryland state fossil never existed
in what is now Maryland. The shell is actually found in
Virginia. Maryland legislators have recently introduced a bill to
name Ecphora gardnerae gardnerae, which
is found in the state, as the official
state fossil of Maryland. [Reference: The Washington
Post; 2/94; submitted by Jacob Busch]
- Images taken by the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft on
August 28, 1993, clearly show the 35 x 15 x 13 mile, potato-
shaped asteroid, Ida, being orbited
by a 1-mile diameter moon. The photograph marks the first
evidence that asteroids can have moons. Astronomer Michael
J. S. Belton of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory at
Kitt Peak, Arizona, said the discovery "probably means they are
quite common." The finding may explain the occurrence of
double meteorite craters on the Earth. [References:
The Washington Post; 3/24/94 (submitted by
- It is not unusual for diamonds to fluoresce when exposed
to ultraviolet radiation. The Hope Diamond does, in fact,
fluoresce red despite its blue color in natural light. [Reference:
The Washington Post; the date of first
publication is lost in the fog-shrouded recesses of your editor's
- Dr. Jack Farmer, a paleontologist and geologist at NASA
Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, has
developed a strategy to search for microfossils on Mars. His
criteria are helping to guide site selections related to the search
for evidence of past life on Mars during upcoming Mars
missions planned for later this decade. Farmer, with colleagues
at Arizona State University, has cataloged and prioritized the
sites on the martian planet most likely to conceal well-
preserved microbial fossils. He bases his strategy on the
principles of Precambrian paleontology, the study of the Earth's
earliest fossil record. [Reference: NASA Ames Press Release
- If you stuck your rock hammer into lava flowing from
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, the hammer would get very hot and
probably ruin its annealing (thereby making it unsafe to use)
but the hammer would not melt. The plain carbon steel used in
the manufacture of your rock hammer has a melting point of
1,515° C. The maximum temperature of Kilauea's lava has
been measured at 1,350° C. [Reference: Richard Stead;
Center for Seismic Studies; 11/1/93]
- In Africa about 1.8 billion years ago, enough uranium-235
became concentrated through natural processes that the
resultant mass went "critical." The remnants of the event, called
the Oklo Natural Reactor, is the current site of the Oklo
uranium deposit. [Reference: Cowan; "A Natural Fission
Reactor;" Scientific American; 1976]
- This was an April Fool's joke perpetrated by your editor.
Nearly everything in the original article, which appeared in the
April 1994 issue of Lithosphere, was a
fabrication. You really didn't think they would discredit quartz,
Copyright © 1994 by Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society, Inc.
The preceding article was originally published in the May 1994
issue of Lithosphere, the official bulletin of the
Fallbrook [California] Gem and Mineral Society, Inc; Richard Busch
Permission to reproduce and distribute this material, in
whole or in part, for non-commercial purposes, is hereby granted
provided the sense or meaning of the material is not changed and
the author's notice of copyright is retained.
Last updated: 18 September 2002