Travel, USA
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Why I Wish I Paid More Attention In Science Class

So. I didn’t know a lot about minerals (uhh, can we talk about philosophy or even graphic design instead because apparently, my geekiness does not extend to Geology nor Mineralogy). Why do fluorescent rocks change their color under UV light? Not originally part of my knowledge bank, but when my boyfriend and I went on a day trip to Sterling Hill Mine in New Jersey, I wish it was.

Sterling Hill Mine, as I learned, is one of the oldest mines in the US and one of the most famous in the world. It boasts of a large concentration of zinc among a list of minerals, and is famous for fluorescent rocks even though it has closed its operations many years ago (because of, among other reasons, extremely high taxes in the area).

There is also now a museum where the miners used to change and rest, and visitors are able to take guided tours of the mine. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and cordial. It was interesting to learn not only about the history of the place itself but the lives of the miners, with the laws and technology when they were working — but knowing that even with today’s advancements it is still hard work.

It was another one of those “isn’t-it-a-wonder-how-nature-works” afternoons, digesting the facts from the tour guide. We have a large concentration of minerals here, she said. And when we turned a corner and a light was switched on, with the room previously pitch black and suddenly glowing in oranges and greens and purples — this of course was most evident.

So yeah. I wish I paid more attention in Science class, but what I eventually learned is that fluorescent minerals contain activators that react to UV light. Good to know.


Information on Sterling Hill Mining Museum can be found here.


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