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TSS独家报道:第一次核弹试验创造了“不可能”的准晶体

TSS EXCLUSIVE: First Nuclear Bomb Test Creates ‘Impossible’ Quasicrystals

原作:Rhodilee Jean Dolor

by Rhodilee Jean Dolor

来自意大利的研究人员报告称,在76年前世界首次核弹试验的残留物中发现了一种“不可能的材料”。

Researchers from Italy have reported the discovery of an “impossible material” in the remnants of the world’s first nuclear bomb test that happened 76 years ago. 

这种所谓的准晶体是1945年7月16日美国陆军在新墨西哥州阿拉莫戈多引爆一个核装置时产生的。这一被称为“三位一体”(Trinity)试验的历史性事件,是“曼哈顿计划”(Manhattan Project)的一部分。“曼哈顿计划”是二战期间由美国主导的一项开发核武器的计划。

The so-called quasicrystal was created when the United States Army detonated a nuclear device in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945. The historical event, dubbed the Trinity test, was conducted as part of the Manhattan Project, an American-led initiative to develop an atomic weapon during World War II. 

这些所谓的“准晶体”究竟是什么呢?

What are Quasicrystals?

典型的晶体由原子组成,原子排列在晶格结构中,以规则的模式重复。准晶体具有一种不会重复的结构。当材料科学家Dan Schechtman在1984年首次发现这些材料时,这些材料引起了争议,因为它们的独特结构。它们被认为是不可能的,因为它们不符合广泛接受的晶体定义规则。

Typical crystals are composed of atoms arranged in a lattice structure that repeats in a regular pattern. Quasicrystals have a structure that does not repeat. These materials stirred controversy when material scientist Dan Schechtman first discovered them in 1984 because of their unique structure. They were considered impossible because they do not conform to the widely accepted rules that define crystals.

两次获得诺贝尔奖的化学家和晶体学家Linus Pauling是当时驳斥准晶体存在的人之一。他只是把这些材料看作是简单的多孪生普通晶体。

Double Nobel Prize chemist and crystallographer Linus Pauling was among those who refuted the existence of quasicrystals at the time. He just considered these materials as simple multi-twinned ordinary crystals.

他在1985年10月给《Nature》杂志的信中写道:“晶体学家现在可以不再担心他们的科学公认基础之一的有效性受到质疑了。”“没有准晶体这种东西,只有准科学家。”

“Crystallographers can now cease to worry that the validity of one of the accepted bases of their science has been questioned” he wrote in a letter to Nature dated October 1985. “There are no such things as quasicrystals, there are only quasiscientists.”

Khatyrka陨石样品中的准晶体

Quasicrystals in Samples of Khatyrka Meteorite

准晶体最终被科学家们接受,到目前为止,已经发现了100多种这种材料。其中大多数是在实验室环境下产生的,但在2016年,意大利佛罗伦萨大学的Luca Bindi和同事报告说,他们在俄罗斯东北部的Khatyrka陨石样本中发现了自然形成的准晶体。

Quasicrystals were eventually accepted and, to date, more than 100 types of these materials have already been discovered. Most of these were produced in laboratory settings, but in 2016, Luca Bindi, from the University of Florence in Italy, and colleagues reported that they found naturally formed quasicrystals in a sample of the Khatyrka meteorite in northeastern Russia.

分析表明,这块陨石在撞击地球之前经历了巨大的冲击,可能是由于与太空中的另一个物体相撞。这些碰撞释放出大量的能量,研究人员认为这引发了压缩、加热、减压和冷却的快速循环,从而导致准晶体的形成。

Analysis suggested that the space rock experienced major shock, likely from a collision with another body in space, before it crashed to Earth. These collisions release high amounts of energy, which the researchers think triggered a rapid cycle of compression, heating, decompression, and cooling that led to the quasicrystal formation.

在三位一体测试的残余中发现的准晶体

Quasicrystal Discovered in the Remnants of the Trinity Test

在Khatyrka陨石中发现的准晶体促使研究人员研究在极端温度和压力下形成的物质。

The discovery of the quasicrystals in the Khatyrka meteorite spurred the researchers to look into materials that were formed as a result of extreme temperature and pressure.

在6月1日发表在《美国国家科学院院刊》(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)上的一项新研究中,Bindi和他的同事报告说,他们发现了一种准晶体,这种准晶体是在一次核弹爆炸中形成的。

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on June 1, Bindi and colleagues reported the discovery of a quasicrystal that formed during a nuclear bomb explosion. 

“这是一个令人惊讶的发现,”Bindi在接受Inverse采访时说。“它背后展现出来是:如果这些物质真的能在外太空的外星物体碰撞中形成,那么可以想象它们也能在核爆炸中形成。”他们就在那里。”

“It was a surprising discovery,” Bindi said in an interview with Inverse. “[T]he idea behind it was: if these materials can really form in the collision of extraterrestrial objects in outer space, then it is conceivable that they formed also in an atomic blast. And they were there.”

实验所在地炸药的爆炸释放了相当于21000吨TNT的物质,整个爆炸现场被三一玻璃覆盖。其中大部分是浅绿色的,但在遗址的一个区域,科学家们发现了红色三位一体的样品。这些颜色独特的三氯酸盐是在熔化的沙子、沥青、30米高的被摧毁的高塔上的铜和铁以及钚炸弹爆炸时熔化的电线中形成的。

The detonation at the Trinity site unleashed the equivalent of 21,000 tons of TNT, leaving the site covered with trinite glass. Most of these were a pale green color, but in one area of the site, scientists found red trinite samples. These uniquely-colored trinites formed when melted sand, and asphalt, as well as copper and iron from the obliterated 30-meter-tall tower and wires fused during the detonation of the plutonium bomb.

研究人员决定深入研究血红色的三位一体化合物,因为准晶体形成于经过剧烈冲击和金属的材料中,这使得红色三位一体化合物成为研究的最佳样本。

The researchers decided to peer into the blood-colored trinites because quasicrystals form in materials that went through violent impact and involve metals, making the red trinitites the best samples for investigation. 

由人类活动产生的最古老的准晶体

Oldest Known Quasicrystal Produced by Human Activity

研究人员使用了包括背向散射扫描电子显微镜、电子微探针和单晶x射线衍射分析在内的成像技术,对三位一体样品进行了更近距离的观察。他们的分析显示,准晶体具有五倍、三倍和两倍对称,与晶体结构中发现的准晶体不同。

The researchers used imaging techniques including back-scattered scanning electron microscopy, electron microprobe and single-crystal X-ray diffraction analysis to take a closer look into the trinite samples. Their analysis revealed a quasicrystal with fivefold, threefold, and twofold symmetries that are different from those found in the structure of crystals. 

这种准晶体也被发现由硅、钙和铜组成。当核弹引爆时,当传输线和沙子一起蒸发时,铜进入了准晶体。

The quasicrystal is also found to be composed of silicon, calcium and copper. The copper found its way into the quasicrystal when the transmission wires vaporized with the sand when the nuclear bomb detonated. 

Bindi和他的同事们说,“三位一体”实验创造了人类活动产生的最古老的准晶体。

Bindi and colleagues said that the Trinity test created the oldest known quasicrystal produced by human activity.

这一发现的意义

Implications of the Discovery

这一发现表明,准晶体可能在极端条件下形成,如流星撞击、雷击和核弹爆炸。

The discovery suggests that quasicrystals may form under extreme conditions, such as meteor impacts, lightning strikes and other nuclear bomb explosions.

“我们在这里提供了一个意外结果的证据:一种新的二十面体准晶体的合成(化学式为Si61Cu30Ca7Fe2)。研究人员在他们的研究中写道,这些颗粒(直径约10 μm)是在二战后不久发现的红色三质岩样本中的一个富铜液滴中发现的。“这是一个证据,表明核爆炸产生的高温、高压条件可以像Khatyrka陨石的超高速撞击所产生的瞬态条件一样,导致准晶体的合成。”

“We present here evidence of an unintended consequence: the synthesis of a novel icosahedral quasicrystal (empirical formula Si61Cu30Ca7Fe2). The grain (about 10 μm across) was discovered in a copper-rich droplet included in a sample of red trinitite recovered shortly after World War II, the researchers wrote in their study. “This is evidence that the high-temperature, high-pressure conditions created by a nuclear explosion can, like the transient conditions induced by hypervelocity impact in the Khatyrka meteorite result in the synthesis of quasicrystals.”

Los Alamos National 实验室名誉主任Terry Wallace是这篇论文的作者之一。他说,科学家们还不知道为什么准晶体的独特结构是这样形成的。不过,他说,解决这一谜题可能会对遏制危险的核武器扩散产生影响。它可以让研究人员更清楚地了解核试验项目和核武器。

Los Alamos National Laboratory director emeritus Terry Wallace, one of the authors, said that scientists do not yet know why the unique structure of the quasicrystals are formed that way. Stil, he said that solving the mystery could have implications in curbing the dangerous proliferation of nuclear weapons. It could provide researchers with a clearer picture of nuclear testing programs and nuclear weapons.

核武器被认为是有史以来最具破坏性的武器。红十字国际委员会(ICRC)称他们是“对人类不可容忍的威胁”。

Nuclear weapons are considered the most destructive weapons ever invented. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called them “an intolerable threat to humanity.”

在城市里引爆一枚核弹可以瞬间杀死数万人,更多的人可能会因辐射暴露造成的毁灭性伤害而遭受痛苦,并最终死亡。核战争也会威胁地球。它会破坏生态系统,降低全球气温,从而导致全球粮食储存短缺。

Detonating a nuclear bomb in a city can kill tens of thousands of people in an instant, and more could suffer and eventually die from the devastating injuries caused by radiation exposure. A nuclear war can also threaten the planet. It can damage ecosystems and reduce global temperatures, which can result in global food storage.

Wallace在一份声明中说:“要了解另一个国家的核武器,我们就必须清楚地了解他们的核试验计划。”“我们通常会分析放射性碎片和气体,以了解武器是如何制造的,或它们含有什么材料,但这些特征会衰变。核爆炸现场形成的准晶体可能会告诉我们新类型的信息——它们将永远存在。”

“Understanding another countries’ nuclear weapons requires that we have a clear understanding of their nuclear testing programs,” Wallace said in a statement. “We typically analyze radioactive debris and gases to understand how the weapons were built or what materials they contained, but those signatures decay. A quasicrystal that is formed at the site of a nuclear blast can potentially tell us new types of information—and they’ll exist forever.”

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