Monday, 4 July 2016

twinkle, twinkle

Via Dark Roasted Blend’s latest edition of Biscotti Bits, we discover that the inspiring flickering flame of a candle and the light it gives becomes something even more poetic and romantic through rigorous chemical analysis, from a battery of experiments conducted in the summer of 2011.
The wick burning through the medium of tallow or wax generates different carbon allotropes (the known arrangements of the element: soot, graphite, and the crystalline form) as the flame rises and heats up to eventually bind with the surrounding air as carbon-dioxide—reclaiming the intermediary by-products, but one short-lived but ongoing episode of the chemical history of a candle—as Michael Faraday lucidly presented to the curious public in an 1860 lecture, couched in the same glittering and poetic language that feeds the fire and our imaginations, sees the creation of millions of tiny particles of diamond ash, destined to be consumed at the peak and hottest part of the flame. It is really amazing what fundamental mysteries are just being solved, and how there’s more questions in those answers. I wonder if the soot of the flame is transmogrified into the more exotic forms of carbon as well—like graphene and bucky-balls, and if the tiny diamonds are winked out of existence if there’s no up or down for the candle, were it burning in the micro-gravity of space.