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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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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."