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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Discerning Diamond Origins
17 January 2001 7:00 pm
Wondering whether science can quell a threat to peace, the White House held a diamond summit last week to discuss how scientists might help identify gemstones that are fueling conflicts in Africa.
Diamonds fund rebel forces in Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armies have conscripted children into combat and subjected them to torture. These so-called conflict diamonds represent an estimated 4% of all diamonds sold annually; government officials and activists hope that by keeping them off the market, they can keep guns out of the hands of insurgents. Most conflict diamonds are mined from easily accessible, hard-to-police alluvial surface mines. Once the gems enter the trade, their origins are difficult to discern. Researchers say spectroscopic and physical analyses might yield a unique signature that identifies a stone's origins, but the methods are untested and likely to be expensive, time consuming, and sometimes destructive to the jewels.
To advance the science of diamond identification, a conflict diamond working group led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will submit recommendations for future research to the National Science Foundation. NSF has not yet committed to funding the work, but outgoing OSTP technology chief Duncan Moore hopes to "move forward even this year."