Ask Ms. Scientist: Diamonds and superbugs

What gives a diamond its shine?

Larry B.

Diamonds are often considered the standard for jewelry. This gemstone is sought because of its value and glimmering shine. This shine is caused by a combination of three different things: reflection, refraction and dispersion. A small portion of the shine comes from light directly reflecting off the diamond. When light moves through the diamond, it is scattered between different walls, acting as a prism. This is called refraction. Light is dispersed throughout the diamond, creating the rainbow effect. Refraction and dispersion cause the most brilliant shine. A diamond’s cut can determine its shine. The more even and symmetrical, the more effective the light bouncing off the complicated prism structure is at creating a brilliant sparkle. 

What is a “superbug”?

Arnold S.

A superbug is a type of bacteria that can resist, or is immune to, many different antibiotics or drug treatments. Most bacteria naturally have some resistance to certain antibiotics in their genes but for the most part, antibiotics are typically able to inhibit or kill the growth of bacteria. However, bacterial resistance to antibiotics can build up over time either through random genetic mutations, or the transmission of resistance genes between different bacteria. This gradual buildup of resistance in bacteria is what leads them to be classified as superbugs. Superbugs can be a big problem since traditional antibiotics may no longer work on them, forcing doctors and scientists to look for alternative antibiotics and treatments, which can be expensive and difficult. As such, it is very important to properly use antibiotics, as unnecessary antibiotic usage can worsen this problem. Antibiotics generally should only be used when prescribed by a doctor, and they should be responsibly taken at home.

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