Science Behind Crystal Formation

Crystal cover

Nature has countless phenomenons and things that make us question how were these even possible. From strange phenomenons like bubble clouds to curious glowworms in the caves, our planet is full of bizarre things. Among them that have intrigued humans for a long time and have also created various faiths around them are crystals. They come in all shapes and forms, and if you can think of a color chances are that a crystal of that shade exists. Although in the modern era, we are easily able to create crystals within our homes as well, there’s something about the naturally occurring ones that attracted us towards them.

What are crystals?

The word crystal has a certain image attached to it, as we hear the word crystal we think of spikey rocks in vivid colors. However, crystals can be as simple as the snowflakes that are formed during the winters. It is the atomic structure that distinguishes a rock from a crystal. Crystals are solid formations in which the atoms and molecules are arranged in an unnaturally regular geometric manner. Usually, minerals occur in the form of crystals naturally, where they have this tendency to gain molecules and repeat them in the same ordered fashion.

How are crystals formed?

Galena crystals

Multiple cubical Galena crystals piled together.

As we already know underneath the Earth there are spots full of magma. This magma usually seeps out to a certain height and forms igneous rocks. This process of the continuous flow of magma and rock formation results in the deep groundwater rising to the surface of the Earth. This water is usually hot, resulting in some hot geysers, as some of this water flows and cools, the pathway from where it flowed start forming ions of various elements depending on the location and weather. Though they may be small, the constant water supply and their nature of repeating the organized structure result in larger crystals. Interestingly, if appropriate conditions are provided crystals exhibit the form of their atomic structure. For example, a Galena crystal that is usually cubical in shape has a cubical atomic structure. It is formed when larger lead atoms are arranged in four spots at a 90° and equal distance from one another, the smaller sulfur atom fits neatly in the center of these four lead atoms. The ongoing repetition results in Galena crystal that reflect the cubical atomic structure in its form.

Facts about Crystals

  • Crystallography: The field of science that deals with the study of the arrangement and bonding of atoms for various crystals and crystalline structures. In modern times, the optics on crystals are also in the part of crystallography. It started when father and son, William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg, respectively wanted to understand the formation of salt. In 1913, they conducted various tests using x-rays to observe the crystal structure of the salt, this is from where crystallography was initiated.
  • Within our body: As stated earlier crystals are considered anything that possesses a certain organized formation of the atoms. But even knowing that one would never consider that DNA is a form of crystal as well, if not crystal it is crystalline. Today we know that DNAs are formed as a double helix structure and that’s the only representation of DNA we see, a single structure. However, in reality, thousands of these structures are arranged in a highly organized manner in lattices, which makes DNA a crystal.
DNA lattice

3D representation of DNA forming crystal.

  • Larger than giants: DNA can be considered among the smallest examples of crystals, but they can be humongous as well. Mexico’s Cueva de Los Cristales contains one of the largest crystals known to humans. It was found in the year 2000, and the element that forms these crystals is known as Gargantuan and these crystals roughly reach the height of 35 feet and are about 3 feet wide. But their weight is extreme at around 50 tons. This cave looks exactly like a segment of the video game franchise Darksouls.
Mexico seath

A researcher among gigantic crystals in Cueva de Los Cristales, Mexico.

  • Therapy: Crystals from hundreds of years have been used in various cultures to heal and relax the body, the most common uses of these could be seen in Reiki therapy. In addition to that, people believe crystals can be charged with a certain frequency and those frequencies can be transmitted to a person and heal them. Also, it is claimed that crystals can make a location positive, whether it is true or not that is subject to personal opinion.
  • Astrology: In the ancient science of astrology, crystals are often used to fix certain errors in one’s life, similar to therapy. However, unlike therapy astrologists may guide a person to wear certain crystals in various metals such as silver and gold depending on their zodiac and body proportions. They claim this leaves a charge on the body which over a course of time either neglects the negative outcomes or helps the person reach a better situation in life. Again if it actually works is subjective.
Rose quartz ring

Rose quartz crystal in a ring.

As you can see crystals are very common among us and have been around for thousands of years. Regardless of how we use them, they make a very decorative piece either in our homes or in our jewelry. Plus, they look really mesmerizing.


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