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#303 :: Ulexite – “TV Rock”

December 7, 2004

approved medical ‘popup’, ampoule ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>Science fiction writer Bob Shaw in 1968 imagined “slow glass” – a substance that took a long time to transmit light. Manufacturers would set black, lightless panes of it up somewhere gorgeous for a few years to soak up the view, then sell it to someone who wanted a “scenedow” that showed that view. (Read the haunting Light of Days)

This is nature’s version, a transparent rock – hydrated sodium calcium borate, or ulexite. Its silky crystals line up in perfect parallel, piping light straight through like fiber optics. You can find it in the arid playas of the American Southwest. Or you can pluck it from the bins of any good mineral shop, where it usually lies in dull anonymity beside pyrite, bauxite, copper and other baubles sold to schoolchildren for a dollar. If you’re religious, it is proof of the divine touch. If you’re agnostic, it is proof of the earth’s sense of humor.

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