The cloudy, nebulousness of this vial are nanodiamonds, carbon molecules only a thousand atoms strong, bonded together. During the formation of our solar system a cloud of dust ballooned from the collapse of a massive molecular cloud and was circling around what would be our new, baby sun. These carbon atoms were trapped within larger molecules and compounds and became inclusions, embedded within meteorites which would become evidence of the earliest solids that condensed from the cooling of protoplanetary disks.
The Field Museum has part of the oldest known meteorite - the Allende meteorite - from which these carbon nanodiamonds were extracted through chemical processes developed by Philipp Heck, our Curator of Meteoritics. We know how old the solar system is by dating these inclusions from the Allende meteorite, giving us an estimate that our solar system is 4.567 billion years old. The carbon atoms I’m holding in the above photo are, in a sense, our greatest ancestor, and ultimately became the building blocks for all life on our planet.
TL;DR I’m holding our greatest ancestor in the palm of my hand.
Like a reptile, this squamous form snakes its way through the rugged landscape on the Swedish west coast. It is the brainchild of architect Torsten Ottesjö, who built “Hus-1” on this spacious plot of land, far removed from any urban structures. The design was his attempt to unravel the apparent conflict between architecture and nature. In his view, a building shouldn’t stand like some foreign body in its surroundings; on the contrary, its organic silhouette should enable it to harmoniously blend in with the nature that surrounds it. On the outside the convex building is enveloped in spruce-wood roofing shingles, custom-built by the architect for this very project. Some sections of the house are balanced on dainty stilts giving the impression that it has actually sprouted out of the earth itself.