An Incredible Pattern Hidden Inside A Meteorite

Widmanstätten pattern

Last week, I wrote about a wonderfully animated video by Al Boredman. Instead of simply highlighting the great animation, I took the opportunity to whine about some of the buildings that made the cut and some that didn’t. So I was dismayed, but not surprised, when I realized I was one of several people complaining about a fantastic video for a pretty flimsy reason. It reminded me how cantankerous people can be when talking about architecture, or maybe it’s not unique to the subject and everyone online is pretty much always cantankerous. So this week I’ve decided to highlight things I’ve come across recently that are simply amazing. No detractions. The first amazing thing is a pattern hidden inside a meteorite.

Widmanstätten pattern

The pattern is called a Widmanstätten pattern, and you can see it in the cut meteorite above. The angles of the metallic lines are only visible after acid etching, and the incidence of the angles all depends on how you cut the meteorite. The pattern is formed by the bands of two nickel and iron alloys, with both form as the meteorite cools over millions of years.  Those two alloys do not respond the same when splashed with acid, which is what makes the patterns stand out so much after they’ve been etched with the caustic compound. And it looks amazing, like what something from space should actually look like.

And while the name is also awesome, it should probably be called the Thomson Pattern after a man who described the pattern years before Widmanstätten. But I’m not detracting from the pattern, just giving credit where credit is due.

Widmanstätten pattern

Widmanstätten pattern

Widmanstätten pattern

Last four photos via The Messing Mineral Collection

Alex Dent

May 28, 2013 / By

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