Picture of the Week

LUX dark matter detector

Detecting dark matter

The kind of matter and energy we can see and touch – whether it is in the form of atoms and molecules, or heat and light, only forms a tiny proportion of the content of the Universe, only about 5%. Over a quarter is dark matter, which is totally invisible but whose gravitational attraction can be detected; while over two thirds is dark energy, a force that pushes the Universe to expand ever faster.

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Hangover cure

9 September 2013

Amethyst. Photo: UCL Geology Collections

This photo from UCL Geology Collections shows an ancient Greek hangover cure.

Amethyst, a popular gemstone, means 'not drunken' in Greek, and it was widely believed in the ancient world to halt the effects of alcohol.

Of course modern science sees no such property in amethyst. Chemically, it is virtually indistinguishable from quartz (silicon dioxide), with trace impurities and radiation effects responsible for the crystals' colour. And since glass is nothing but non-crystalline quartz, an amethyst glass won't stop a hangover any more than a wine bottle will. 

UCL has a large collection of geology specimens, the oldest of which date back to 1855. Used mainly for teaching by the Earth Sciences department, they are also displayed to the public in the Rock Room between 1pm and 3pm every Friday.

Photo credit: UCL Geology Collections


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Page last modified on 09 sep 13 13:11