Diamonds are forever

Astronomers recently hinted that the ends of the universe might be populated by dead stars that exist as enormous diamonds spread thinly across the universe. At the other end of the cosmological spectrum geochemists have now discovered the earth's oldest diamonds trapped as occlusions in zircon crystals almost as old as the earth itself. Martina Menneken of the Westfälische Wilhelms University of Münster, Germany, and her colleagues probed, using Raman spectroscopy, 1000 ancient zircon, formed when the earth was just 250 million years old. Previously, geo scientists had assumed that not even rock from this period would survive because of the earth's fiery and boiling state until at least 500 million years ago. The results suggest that the earth was quieter, cooler and perhaps even habitable much sooner after its formation than previously thought.