Thursday, February 20, 2014

Medusa Gorgon

Wikipedia says, and I quote "Petrified wood (from the Greek root petro meaning "rock" or "stone"; literally "wood turned into stone") is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization. All the organic materials have been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), while retaining the original structure of the stem tissue."

Contaminating elements produce these related color hues:

carbon – black
cobalt – green/blue
chromium – green/blue
copper – green/blue
iron oxides – red, brown, and yellow
manganese – pink/orange
manganese oxides – blackish/yellow

Physically, the buried organic material is oxygen starved, but not completely dead while mineral-laden underground water flows through and deposits various mineral in the dying plants' cells.

Now you know how the deadly Medusa half-lady-half-snake Greek mythology creature turned foolish human warriors into stone. She used this process, but instead of it taking centuries, hers happened in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

But... Wikipedia talks again, and it says:

"Artificial petrified wood has been produced in a Washington laboratory. In the process small cubes of pine are soaked in an acid bath for two days, then in a silica solution for another two. The product is then cooked at 1400 °C in an argon atmosphere for two hours. The result was silicon carbide ceramic which preserved the intricate cell structure of the wood."

Now, can you tell me if this petrified specimen in the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is real, or is instant man-made?

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