RUSSIAN gold prospectors thought they had struck it rich. On the ground before them was a yellow-specked 3.96kg lump of metal. It ended up being far more valuable.
It was a meteorite. It had only recently tumbled out of the sky.
Most of it was pretty ordinary for a meteorite: an alloy called kamacite made up of molten iron and nickel. The remaining two per cent was a sprinkling of minerals also mostly only found in space rocks.
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When put under the microscope, one of them was seen to be something new.
It hadn’t been recorded before.
Russian scientists were excited: and media reports soon declared the alien mineral to be ‘harder than diamond’. This is because the substance’s structure matched that of some of the hardest known minerals in the world.