What I'm reading & watching this week 2/20/2023
This week I continued watching one of my favorite National Geographic shows - Trafficked with Mariana Van Zeller. In this weeks episode she brought to life the black market of surrogate mothers around the world. They traveled to Ukraine and Kenya and interviewed black market agents brokering couples from around the world with local surrogates and doctors. This weeks episode was intriguing and shined light on a black market I didn't even know existed and the dangers these surrogates face. Excellent job Mariana! If you enjoy investigative journalism, this episode is a must watch. Available on National Geographic, or Hulu, the photo is a link to the series.
I read an interesting article from Gemological Institute of America (GIA) on a new gem treatment that was discovered for spinel. While spinel is usually not treated to enhance its color or clarity, this article stated they discovered that a selection of faceted spinels purchased for research purposes in Bankok, Thailand had been heat treated via "nickel-diffusion". The vast majority of yellow and pink sapphires on the market are "beryllium-diffused" to achieve bright neon yellows and pinks. Diffusion treatment usually happens when the gem is heat treated and an element such as beryllium, titanium is added into the heating crucible. Once the gem reaches near its melting temperature in the oven diffusion begins and the element start being absorbed into the gem altering its properties. This treatment can also dissolve impurities (inclusions) in the gem that might have a lower melting temperature and also improve its clarity. While I have yet to encounter these bright neon blue and green spinels depicted from their study, it is worth the read especially if you are into gemology. The photo is a link to the article.
Lastly I read a disturbing article from Vice about a Chinese Nickel Mining company in Indonesia. This article brought to light a dark side of an industry that touts promoting a green future - Electric Cars. Nickel is a prerequisite for making batteries that power EV's. The big boom in electric car sales are driving poor environmental and labor practices in order to fulfill this enormous demand. Not to say that oil and gas extraction isn't as destructive if not more, this article sheds light on the unseen practices and the hidden faces of this industry. This is in my opinion a disturbing article, read at your own discretion. The photo is a link to the article.
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