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De Beers admits defeat over man-made diamonds (cnn.com)
733 points by bkohlmann on May 29, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 439 comments

"Lightbox will transform the lab-grown diamond sector by offering consumers a lab-grown product they have told us they want but aren't getting: affordable fashion jewelry that may not be forever, but is perfect for right now"

This is clearly a play to devalue the image of man made diamonds. "May not be forever" my ass, it's the exact same thing. Their goal is probably to try to quickly drive the price of man made diamonds down to the price of Moissanite, and create a artificial distinction between natural and man made dimaonds. All of this so the price of man made diamonds doesn't bring down the price of the natural stones with it.

I'd love for synthetic diamond to bring the price down on gemstones. A lot of people are engaged in arduous and risky work to produce natural stones. The environmental costs, too, are real.

Modern high-quality synthetic materials, whether in gemstones or other uses, have so much to offer in fashion innovation. Indeed, diamond jewelers claim that silicon carbide (SiC) has "excess fire" as it has greater dispersion than diamond. SiC has a greater index of refraction, which improves the properties of total-internal-reflection as well! (Edit: It is also birefringent, which does require care when choosing a cut, size, and setting)

Cubic zirconia, too, can be stunning. Order a handful of 10-15mm stones and see for yourself. Or, for a little more money, synthetic rubies and sapphires can transform how you think about nature (they're the same crystal, except for differing defects). The real beauty of many stones is in the cut, not the base material. Diamond absolutely has its place, but it is but one in a spectrum of really cool offerings.

It is the rarity of materials that give them cachet, but the physical properties that make them beautiful. Platinum is a boring metal, visually, difficult to distinguish by eye from steels, aluminum, and titanium. The bloom of the commonest flower is far prettier, but we barely notice because they seem so commonplace and ephemeral.

Every one of these materials was born in the heart of a star or in the heat of an astrophysical cataclysm, each just as natural as the next.

Disclaimer/Caution: I've lost (so far) large fractions of small amounts of money betting long on SiC as a business venture.

> The real beauty of many stones is in the cut, not the base material.

If you can create the exact same rough/uncut synthetic diamond, and therefore can deterministically reproduce the same cut on each diamond, then the decision of how to cut that diamond becomes intellectual property and is potentially copywritable.

If de Beers really can't hold back the synthetic market, they'll find a way to take it over, and legally-enforced monopolies sure isn't a bad strategy.

Gem-quality synthetic diamonds are cut in essentially the same way as natural diamonds.

The most important commercial cut (the brilliant) was described in Marcel Tolowsky's 1919 book Diamond Design, so would not be copyrightable without some tremendous legal gymnastics. De Beers could dream up some "improvement" to the brilliant cut and trademark it, but there really isn't much room for improvement. The cut that Tolowsky described is very, very close to the mathematical ideal for brilliance and fire. Most of the later optimisations in diamond modelling are in the public domain.

When has deBeers not taken any and every route to maintaining their cartel?

Admittedly their marketing scheme is under a little more pressure with the various articles about their "interesting" past and price fixing schemes, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to their decades of propaganda.

They will find some way, openly or through any back channel they can find or manufacture, to control as much as they can. Plus or minus further monitoring and exposes.

> tremendous legal gymnastics

I'm with you so far.

You can't get a copyright on simple geometric shapes, they would need something bizarre looking to not have been created in the past. Further, stones are both tiny and shiny so people can't really tell what they look like.

A more realistic option is use nanoscale etching to get unique colors. Much like those blue butterfly wings that don't use pigment.

They could patent the process of cutting that shape though, if it's sufficiently complicated.

But again, that will only hold for some bizarre new shape. Anything using existing techniques and any cuts you can't plausibly claim copyright on will still be fine, and that's going to be almost everything.

If de Beers wants to patent and copyright some bizarre foamy cut of a diamond that does some exotic thing, that's fine, but it's not going to be "a diamond ring" as most people think of them.

I don't know, lots of things that shouldn't be patentable seem to somehow become patentable when you say the magic words "using a computer." Maybe de Beers' legal team will come up with some gemstone equivalent.

But, on the other hand just because you can get a patent, doesn't mean it can't be challenged.

Patents last for 20 years and can be invalidated or worked around. Copyright is ~forever.

Even that graph is on the low side for corporate projects. Just include a few teenagers in the process and push the expected lifetime up another 40 years.

Beautiful illustration of how "for now" becomes "forever" as "now" moves forward.

>> Their goal is probably to try to quickly drive the price of man made diamonds down to the price of Moissanite, and create a artificial distinction between natural and man made dimaonds.

> Indeed, diamond jewelers claim that silicon carbide (SiC) has "excess fire" as it has greater dispersion than diamond. SiC has a greater index of refraction, which improves the properties of total-internal-reflection as well!

As an investor you probably know this, but for the benefit of everyone else, Moissanite is a marketing term for (crystalline) silicon carbide.

Similarly to how sapphire is a special term for crystalline aluminum oxide, but the word "sapphire" has a bit more tradition behind it.

Mineral name wise, sapphires are a type of corundum. Usually blue, sometimes green, yellow, orange, or others, depending on various metals mixed into it. But if it’s red (via chromium) it’s a ruby instead.

Clear crystalline aluminum oxide you’d generally just call corundum (or aluminum oxide if you’re not feeling fancy), but that doesn’t market as well when you’re making watch faces and camera lenses out of it, so I guess we’re calling that sapphire now too.

TLDR: Gemstone naming seems a bit super arbitrary and marketing driven (not that I’m an expert on the subject)

The names ruby and sapphire are not marketing driven; they are color terms that long predate the development of chemistry to the point where we could determine what gems were.

Many famous historical "rubies" are not corundum but spinel; they were called rubies because "ruby" was the term for any red gemstone.

"Moissanite" is purely marketing, though.

I can also verify this. I currently have 932 flawless imperial rubies in my stash and they are all red.

One of the drawbacks of being dragonborn is the hoarding instinct.

Proudspire Manor won’t buy itself

Looks like a Diablo 3 reference to me. Put one of those in your hat for +37% exp!


Sadly, I do not personally own any historically significant jewelry. But you can read about it pretty easily.


> The Black Prince's Ruby is a large, irregular cabochon red spinel weighing 170 carats (34 g)

> It wasn't until 1783 that spinels were differentiated from rubies.

Well, all non-red corundums are called "sapphire" - with qualifiers for anything that isn't blue (all those yellow and pastel colors, which are all called "fancy sapphires"), and a special exception for pinkish-orange, which are called padparadscha[1].

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapphire#Padparadscha

Not all red sapphires are rubies--ruby describes "pigeon blood blue" red color. There are also ceylon sapphires that range from pinkish to fire-engine red through burnt orange in color.

Yep, I'm aware. I've always felt that the material should embrace what it is -- a crystalline material allowed by nature but manufactured by experts [1] -- rather than attempt to meet naturally-occurring gemstones on their turf. (Yes, crystalline SiC has been found in nature as moissanite, but it is exceedingly rare.)

For some people, geologists in particular, there is a romance to the formation of a natural diamond due to heat and pressure within the earth. That's great too!

[1] Look at your high-efficiency LED lights to find some SiC in your house. Thanks, Cree and others!

Never mind about jewelry and fashion. Cheap synthetic diamonds would open up a host of industrial applications. Bring on "The Diamond Age".

Industrial synthetic diamond production is around since at least the 80s and from all we know about De Beers, they are certainly not trying to get the price down.

> The brand, called Lightbox, will offer synthetic diamonds at a fraction of the price it charges for stones pulled out of the earth.

[ Prices below are arbitrary but illustrate why this is totally irrelevant outside of jewellery ]

De Beers relies on the fact that ordinary people don't understand diamonds aren't very valuable. After all, the diamonds they see sold by De Beers are expensive, so...?

De Beers plucks a $50 diamond from the mines, charges $5000 for it in jewellery and says that's symbollic of True Love, or whatever nonsense people believe.

But the people making diamond cutting saws do not care about True Love, so they are already buying whatever is cheapest, and they won't pay more than $10 for $10 of diamonds. To them that $50 diamond is worth... $50.

De Beers new plan is to make $50 synthetic diamonds, brand them, get across to consumers how these aren't "real" diamonds (hurting synthetic producers), that they're more "I wanna get into your knickers" than "True Love" and charge say $500 for them to emphasise that they're worse than its $5000 mined diamonds.

That makes no difference to the diamond cutting saw people, they still just want diamonds for their purely mechanical properties, and they'll continue to pay $10 for $10 of little diamonds.

De Beers hopes that this drives the synthetic diamond competition out of their market, and allows it to go back to charging $5000 for a $50 diamond in jewellery. The industrial market operates on a rational basis, there's no profit for De Beers there, it's all about the silly people paying $5000 to signal "True Love".

Considering the $800 per carat price tag for their artificial diamonds they want to charge a hefty fee for them much more than it would cost you today to get them form China or India.

Where do you get these cheap diamonds from China or India?

Both industrial and cut can be found through the usual channels (Tao Ali et al.) even eBay for small orders.

Since the 80s but only tiny or imperfect stones. The true diamond age is when we can make large structural things with diamonds. Imagine an aircraft wing made from a honeycomb of diamond rather than aluminum.

Diamond is a very poor structural material. It is very hard, but also quite brittle; it breaks easily, is heavy, and is flammable. Additionally, airplane wings specifically need to be flexible to absorb turbulence (like the suspension system on a car), while diamond is very stiff.

It's brittle, but very strong. So strong that the brittleness is irrelevant for a huge number of applications, because you simply won't push them far enough. It will usually sustain more load than the same weight of aluminum.

About flammability... Technically it is flammable. If you heat it enough, it will react with oxygen. Steel will melt way before that point, I would be it would burn before that point too.

Diamond is stuff just like any other type of carbon. Solid diamond wings would be silly. But engineered microstructures of diamond could be very flexible where needed, and stiff where not. Diamond ropes, like bundles of carbon nanotubes, could do all sorts of things.

Why make an aircraft wing out of diamond when you could make it out of graphene?

Why not unobtanium

> De Beers has produced synthetic diamonds for years through a subsidiary called Element Six, but it has limited their use to industrial applications.

Considering this, I don't think this is going to bring about the Diamond Age unfortunately.

When the Diamond Age arrives, it's going to be amazing. For a sneak peek, look up "diamond-like coatings", already in use in physics experiments and industry.

One diamond crystal smartphone screen for me, please.

The chief problem with smartphone screens these days is not them getting scratched, but with them cracking.

Diamonds, despite being very hard, are also very brittle. They'll likely crack much more easily than Gorilla Glass (another hard material that is hard to scratch).

Did you mean one that shatters on the first hit? Even Gorilla Glass is better than this.

> Platinum is a boring metal, visually, difficult to distinguish by eye from steels, aluminum, and titanium.

Platinum has very low reactivity so it doesn't rust, corrode, whatever easy, unlike the others. That's why it's considered valuable, because it looks almost the same after a lot of time.

Anodized aluminum and titanium don't rust - and if by whatever means you DO allow them to oxidize, the oxygen-bound outer layer forms a protective barrier against further rusting.

Neither of those metals becomes structurally weaker in any meaningful way over time due to oxygen exposure.

Both anodizing and oxidation of aluminum look different from polished steel. Notably, oxidized aluminium loses its shine. Moreover, anodization can get scratched after which you get the ugly oxidized aluminium.

All of this is to say that as a "Symbol of lasting love" every-shiny platinum jewelry seems to make some sense.

Although in theory you could scratch anodized aluminum, the anodized layer is both harder and more abrasion resistant than the underlying raw aluminum. If you're thinking about scratching chrome-plated steel, let me ephasize that it is much harder to scratch a hard-anodized finish. The only anodized-aluminum object I have ever known to get scratched is the older iPhones (5?). That's probably a combination of people physically dropping them from heights and Apple's choice of a thin, relatively soft anodization process.

A clear anodization finish leads to "bright aluminum" - the natural shine is absolutely preserved. Natural oxidization on the other hand does dull the metal.

Yes, all forms of aluminum look different than steel. Gold and platinum do have the advantage of being homogenously non-oxidizing. But I think anodized aluminum is a great alternative with many advantageous properties for jewelry (low cost, wide variety of beautiful colors, high strength/weight ratio, low density, non-allergenic). I'm not sure why it's used so infrequently - perhaps because of the connection with aluminum cans and thus the image of "cheap"/"disposable"?

Platinum is significantly heavier than titanium, steel, and aluminum which adds to its perceived value.

"Anodized aluminum and titanium don't rust - and if by whatever means you DO allow them to oxidize, the oxygen-bound outer layer forms a protective barrier against further rusting."

So what? But they do melt. And you can't eat Titanium or Aluminum. We would starve to dead soon without Pt/Rh

In jewelry it can often have a bit of Nickel alloyed into it, and some people are allergic to Nickel.

Or you know, just not buy gemstones, especially diamonds that cause many of the issues you mention.

Your post is very poetic, thank you

new generations, probably, would appreciate the low environmental impact of man made stones

We as humans just need to be less stupid.

Srsly no one cares if a stone is real or not.

Everyone is "trying" to be less stupid. But selling my wife's diamond rings and buying cubic zirconia replicas at this point feels like a very stupid move even though I know I will net a bunch of money up front, I hear divorces are very expensive.

She's better off holding onto them because selling the won't actually net you "a bunch of money upfront," the resale market for diamond rings is incredibly poor.

Personally, I just didn't even bother buying an engagement ring (or wedding ring for that matter) because it's a "tradition" that means literally absolutely nothing to me. My husband doesn't care that I don't want jewelry and he prefers to not wear a wedding ring too. So I guess we are happy being "less stupid."

I used my (deceased) grandmother's engagement and wedding bands. I paid a few hundred bucks to get them repaired and cleaned up (they needed work after ~60 years of wear) and am very happy. They're about 1/4 the size of my wife's friends rocks, but they got a big rock and we got a lot closer to a down payment on a house.

> won't actually net you "a bunch of money upfront,"

Even if its a "charitable gift" on the seller's part, it saves one family from the suffering of buying a diamond.

> it's a "tradition" that means literally absolutely nothing to me.

Please preach to all the impressionable young women you know.

Sorry, I don't really "preach" (at least unsolicited) because people don't generally like being preached to and this is a topic that is incredibly emotional for some people for some reason.

The idea someone would worry replacing expensive trinkets with cheaper but similar looking trinkets might damage your marriage is extremely foreign to me! I can say that much at least!

Plus I don't know many impressionable young women these days because I'm approaching 40 and the majority of my friends are already married or no longer impressionable. :)

Ha, I thought we were the only ones. My wife and I have never worn our rings as it just seemed stupid and also I found it uncomfortable.

Our engagement ring was an heirloom. Additional gemstone jewelry has mostly been synthetic corundums, as I find the superior hardness and refractive index of diamond to be flawed by its 4 planes of perfect cleavage. And also, we wanted to poke the DeBeers cartel in its eye, by not giving them any of our money, ever. That was explicitly a concern about diamonds.

The synthesis process for the giant corundum boules used to make lenses and windows and such is pretty cool, too.

> "Synthetic diamonds, which can be produced in about 500 hours, share the same physical, chemical and optical characteristics as natural stones. But they are not nearly as valuable."

This "article" is an advertisement. This bullshit statement seals it. Value is demand driven. The only way for DeBeers to force mined diamonds to sell for more than grown diamonds is with relentless marketing to make people think there is a meaningful difference. And there is. Mined diamonds have historically resulted in a lot of human misery to bring the stones to market, whereas grown diamonds use some electricity and can come from any industrial park.

Same here, going on 10 years of marriage. We bought very cheap rings (< $100) basically because "Maybe we'll need these some day?" but so far haven't found a reason to wear them consistently.

I understand the value of an heirloom that symbolizes one's progenitor's marriage. Presumably, that is how the ring tradition originated, and why the durability of diamond is a significant selling point for that use case. But I don't think rings are well-suited to this purpose now and would rather leave some other trinket behind, well aware that the true legacy of the progenitors lives on through the posterity.

For our second anniversary I got my wife a Moissanite stone to replace the relatively poor (I1) diamond in her engagement ring. It's larger, much more flawless, more attractive all around, and cheaper. She's happier having a beautiful stone without me wasting a bunch of our money on a diamond. (Wouldn't have bought the diamond in the first place, but it came with the ring, which we both loved.)

Even though most jewelry and gems are seldom capital-efficient investments, moissanites likely retain more value as a percentage of retail purchase price than do diamonds. The main reason diamonds are expensive is demand, manufactured by shrewd marketing by De Beer’s since 1938. It could’ve been opals or rubies chosen to represent “what every bride should have.”

If it's any solace, I understand the secondhand market for diamonds to be quite weak.

Purposefully weak, to my understanding, to discourage a secondary market.

I remember an article years ago that went into detail about De Beers' manipulation of the market, and how change from "larger is better" to "clearer is better" happened just as a large mine outside of De Beers control opened that had quite a few large diamonds coming from it on a regular basis. That same article made some assertions about the secondary market being somewhat manipulated, IIRC, but this was close to a decade ago, so sourcing it might be hard, and I'm also unsure how accurate it was at this point. I think it was about how modern incarnation of idea of giving rings for marriage was also largely manipulated by De Beers.

I believe “Have you ever tried to sell a diamond” (1982) https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/02/have-yo... is what you’re thinking of - it’s a great article and feel ahead of its time in style/composition.

I saw that, and it could be, but I have a (possibly false) memory of some orange-ish toned world map which showed the locations of major diamond exporters and the times they started exporting. Or maybe it was blue-ish? I think I've reached the point in trying to remember this where any additional details I might think I remember are more likely just cross-contamination of memories. :/

You can't put the horse back fully in the barn. I applaud you for trying to help some poor sap trapped in demands made by his fiancee's adveristing-brainwashed mind, but as you note, not "everyone" is "trying" to be less stupid -- your wife isn't letting go of her cartel (and possibly blood) diamond.

This issue is squarely in the women feminists' court, and (for the most part) they haven't taken up the cause to stop supporting this evil system that hurts both men and women.

I agree. You wouldn't net all that much, as diamonds give really poor RoI (unless you're in the >~ 3 ct range). And divorces are expensive. Plus, if you have a daughter and she can use your wife's wedding ring in her ceremony, you'll enjoy a goodwill factor big enough to cause emotional buffer overflow.

Diamonds have little resale value because of high retail markups, on top of previous De Beers monopoly price controls. If someone paid $3000 retail for a ring, good luck getting $700 for it.

If that is true, where can I buy second-hand diamonds for a fraction of the cost?

I've looked and I can't find any.

Hmm I cant seem to find any listings that include the colour or clarity so I assume those are all pretty low value diamonds anyway?

Pawn shop?

I don't know if they actually do this but I imagine if you sell your ring to a jeweler they can send it off for the band to be melted down the stone to be polished and re-set so the resulting ring is resold as "new."

Yup, exactly. The man-made diamond industry should just counter by talking up how they can make perfectly "pure" diamonds with zero imperfections in color or clarity, superior in quality to mined diamonds, and with no human lives lost. Just keep drilling that point home in all their sales and PR until it changes the dynamic. I'm sure the millennials will be receptive to that - cheap, better, not immoral.

That would be a marketing battle, which is often won by the side with the biggest marketing budget, probably the well established natural diamond industry.

Besides, I personally feel that "lab grown diamonds" have more weak (marketing) points than "natural, made by stars, millennial diamonds". Could be wrong though.

They should introduce imperfections, and market them as real. Bad money drives out good.

My exact thoughts, this statement made me chuckle: 'Synthetic diamonds, which can be produced in about 500 hours, share the same physical, chemical and optical characteristics as natural stones. But they are not nearly as valuable.'

So... the two items are identical in every possible way that matters except in the way that lines De Beers pockets?

It almost feels like De Beers sponsored this article in a desperate campaign to make dirty mined diamonds more valuable.

Considering the De Beers cartel basically fabricated the entire ritual around engagement rings from thin air through paid marketing and op-ed pieces this would hardly be surprising if true.

The slogan "a diamond is forever" is one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time. It encourages people to voluntarily limit circulation of a rock that's mined by the tonnes, whose supply is carefully controlled to keep profits high. The links they've made with the slogan to love also helps keep the money flowing.

It is deviously brilliant. Play on people's emotions, equate a diamond with "till death do us part", make it almost shameful to even consider reselling that stone.

Is there any other product where resale is "voluntarily" limited like that?

It's widely considered one of the best marketing campaigns of all time, and used frequently as a case study in business school, for good reason.

bitcoin? "HODL"

Oh dear yes, that was certainly something. At least diamonds didn't see that type of rabid frenzy.

The diamond con is forever.

Eh, there is an obvious difference in quality between the brown diamond crumbs and clear rocks.

They scoop up tons of the gem-quality diamonds as well. OP is correct about how the industry operates. This is a great article (from 1982!) that goes into great depth about the diamond scam:


Very reminiscient of the intentional devaluation of Crystal Pepsi by Tab Clear (see the second paragraph here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tab_Clear#Post-discontinuation)

That's absurd.

People just didn't go for the colorless cola fad that year. Why did "Tab Clear" "kill" Crystal Pepsi, but not Sprite or 7-Up?

The person who tried to copy Crystal Pepsi failed, and made up an excuse to cover his failure.

More like Hedging, either way Sergio Zyman looks like a genius:

Doesn't stick = Intentional devaluation Sticks = Brilliant capitalization of the market.

Tab back then was far more popular than today. It was at today's level of Dr. Pepper.

Interestingly enough, the way to differentiate man-made from natural diamonds is to look for flaws and impurities: man-made diamonds are much more likely to be purer and flawless.

If you want a natural stone that is "forever", look into the nature shop, they have tons of beautiful solid stones. If you want a shiny, pure gem stone, lab-grown is going to give the best quality.

Natural diamonds are hopefully becoming a commodity for wealthy and misguided hipsters. It is a good thing that the bloodstained business is failing.

> man-made diamonds are much more likely to be purer and flawless.

Hmm, both natural and man-made stones have price/quality trade-offs. I am no expert in the field, but I think both kinds are post-sorted into quality grades based on what flaws are found. And I guess labs can also tune their growth parameters for different trade-offs.

So yes, for a given price and size, the artificial stone will have better quality -- but that is just another way of saying they are cheaper.

I only read about it something like 10 years ago, when lab-grown started to appear, and they already had the problem of being too pure. Making diamonds with impurities seems to be more costly than making them pure.

What may fool your intuition is that the process is not about refining, it is about growing a crystal. IIRC, the vaporize carbon in a very controlled atmosphere and let it grow.

Natural processes are much more messy and are made in the presence of a lot of other chemicals that need to be artificially introduced in the crystal growing atmosphere for it to be integrated.

That's actually not my understanding. I have heard that most man-made stones are nearly flawless (at least when it comes to occlusions).

Some processes have actually started introducing "fake" occlusions just to make them impossible to distinguish from the natural variety.

Nah, you need all sorts of quality grades for drilling, polishing, etc.

No you don't. Those aren't the hard parts. You use the same high quality, industrial machines to cut and polish synthetic diamonds as you do natural diamonds, and you get the same result. The only quality grades that make sense are color and perfection for natural diamonds, or maybe cutting grades for antique hand-ground diamonds that weren't done well.

For polishing and drilling marble, for example. Not for polishing diamonds. The diamonds are different qualities.

Well, their entire business model depends on persuading their clients that natural diamonds are a rarity and better than human-created ones. So I don't really expect them to offer a non biased view here, even though their audacity is astounding.

Yep. I've seen lots of marketing spam on my elevator's "Captivate" box "educating" viewers on colored diamonds and how "natural" impurities make them that way. Very obvious ploy to increase the desirability of mined diamonds.

Off topic, but I'm not sure I got this -- you have advertisements in an elevator?

Yes, we also have these screens in our office elevators. They show the weather, pictures of office views better than yours, and ads. I find the brand name "Captivate" depressingly accurate since you are trapped in a box with it.

I've seen elevators with a mounted TV that's playing ads.

(I believe I've only seen them in hotels)

I have these too at work

First time I saw them I thought it was some kind of dystopian joke.

Well, the whole point of diamonds is to show off wealth. Natural diamonds and their defects are more expensive and very hard to replicate crystallographically , so they're not doing anything unexpected.

But they are more expensive in many cases because of artificially reduced supply, not because of actual rarity. Now, for a whole bunch of people that makes absolutely no difference (if anyone needs evidence, look at the Birkin Bag, which NPR's Planet Money covered well), but for others it does.

In this case the market needs the average consumer to buy into that status symbol, and enough of them are price conscious that a cheaper alternative that almost nobody can tell is cheaper is quite a draw.

Somebody needs to persuade rich assholes that trying to make the world better is the new trendy way to show off.

Obviously they will fight to keep their monopoly and protect their cache.

Just like lab grown meat is gaining traction, I think synthetic companies have the ability to push the social angle. "Identical in composition to the diamonds mined by slaves and used to finance terrorism." Just need an English major to turn that into a catchy slogan! :)

Sorry, my statement was vague. I did mean cache as in horde. They have stockpiles of "value" that they will protect at all costs.

Ah, thanks, though yes, unclear ;-)

Diamonds are forever... unless dropped from waist height onto a hard surface.

Four planes of perfect cleavage.

That's why my favorite stones are corundum and nephrite.

I think that "may not be forever, but is perfect for right now" is not about the stone, but about the attitude of the giver and receiver. But experience doesn't support an association of diamonds with relationship stability.

This reminds me of the story about how Coke launched an intentionally bad competitor to "Crystal Pepsi" in order to confuse the marketplace.


The strategy is called Kamikaze marketing... and can result in fantastic stories like this, but it is almost never successful. Unfortunately I think DeBeers might have the ability to pull it off.

That story is one executive's excuse for why his product idea failed.

Ahh... the old Tab Clear strategy. Brilliant when you can pull it off.

What if even below Moissanite? If they are selling artificial diamonds for $1 each that might be the best way to protect the mined diamond price.

It would. But I think the real threat is that man-made diamonds will likely become impossible to distinguish from natural, even with the expensive, specialty equipment that debeers has created.

At that point, natural and man-made will reach a price parity... Far below the current cost of natural diamonds. Because there will be no way of knowing where your diamond comes from.

Well, at that point they can create a "guaranteed provenance" diamond with papers like a show dog or a Mickey Mantle autographed baseball. That will help shut out even other mined diamonds vendors since all the marketing will be for the DeBeers branded diamond.

Though that could backfire. “This diamond was mined in a certified conflict zone.”

Exactly. Just wait for their counter-blow.

They have enough money, resources and incentives to try to destroy man-made diamonds for at least a few more decades.

Not like they used to. De Beers used to have a monopoly on distribution, but that's been broken.

You can get synthetic diamonds on Alibaba now. Some of which really are diamond.

How do you distinguish if they are real diamonds on Alibaba?

Edit: Typo

now I am wondering about getting a multi-carat synthetic diamond on the cheap. :-)

I guess De Beers must be selling the synthetic diamons with a much smaller profit margin? A couple of years ago, makers of synthetic diamond jewelry said they would cost about 60% of natural ones ("Baruch says savings may be as high as 40 percent in some cases; this is especially appealing to savvy millennial shoppers." --https://www.racked.com/2016/6/14/11872830/lab-grown-diamonds...), and now Lightbox will sell them at 10% the price of natural ones.

Unlike mines you can't really establish a monopoly in vapor deposit ovens, so in the long run competition should drive down costs. It makes sense that De Beers would want to fast-forward that process, particularly since the price of natural diamonds is kindof arbitrary anyway.

They're not the same. Physically, man-made diamonds tend to be superior to natural ones, or so I'm tood. But that's beside the point for consumers - they mostly don't buy based on physical criteria beyond size. They buy dimonds because it's the done thing, because they're expensive. If diamonds lose that exclusivity De Beers have gone to such lengths to uphold, I think they'll also lose their appeal.

Yp, De Beers has a monopoly of sorts in the natural diamonds but anyone can create synthetic ones. Just like a "Diamond is forever" they will malign the man made ones.

To be fair, diamonds have value because of rarity and marketing. Not sure how many normal people can tell the difference between a diamond and a cubic zirconia, so it isn't just how it looks.

> affordable fashion jewelry that may not be forever...

...is also a lie. The man made diamonds will last just as long (or longer, as they're generally more perfect) than mined diamonds.

I'm optimistic that their strategy will fail. People buying diamonds to show off to others will still buy the artificial ones since they're indistinguishable.

Protecting the price of a product by selling its cheap substitute? Sounds pretty dumb to me.

Hedging sounds like a more sensible explanation.

Reminds me of what Coca Cola did to get rid of Crystal Pepsi.

The same thing Coca Cola did with Crystal Pepsi...

Smart move. Throw enough marketing dollars at misinformation and you can convince hordes of people to doubt facts.

Case in point. Despite overwhelming evidence there are people today who still debate climate change.

The diamond love itself was a result of marketing dollars from the same company.

That's not how disbelieving works.

People disbelieve facts that would cost them to believe. If I believe in climate change, I have to make expensive life changes (sell the SUV, buy a Tesla, etc). Therefore I will not believe in it.

This belief is 100% honest, BTW. This is key to understand!

For diamonds, the incentives are reversed. If I believe that artificial diamonds are as good as the natural kind, I can get a wedding ring much cheaper. So I will probably believe that!

If I have already bought natural diamonds, I might believe something else. But it doesn't matter much, since I'm not buying more diamonds.

> If I believe in climate change, I have to make expensive life changes (sell the SUV, buy a Tesla, etc).

In part this is true, but none of those are necessary, but what is neceaary for most deniers if they flip is “abandon my political tribe, whose leaders have defined the belief in climate change as outside the bounds of the tribe.”

That's really very nearly the only factor that matters.

The tribalism goes both ways. Sadly, it's hard to be a pragmatic optimist and say "Yea it's probably going to change but there's also nothing we can do about it without killing millions of people through economic destruction and we'll likely adapt anyway (humans can adapt their civilizations in the time scales of climate change - see the rapid growth of Chinese cities), so let's not worry too much." Then everyone sees you as their political enemy.

> Sadly, it's hard to be a pragmatic optimist and say "Yea it's probably going to change but there's also nothing we can do about it without killing millions of people through economic destruction and we'll likely adapt anyway (humans can adapt their civilizations in the time scales of climate change - see the rapid growth of Chinese cities), so let's not worry too much."

That's not really pragmatic optimism, it's intense pessimism about human capability to adapt society deliberately in the face of a changing knowledge of economic payoff matrices without mass destruction mixed with bizarre faith that human society will adapt to changing payoff matrices without mass dedtruction.

There's no difference in the behavior that supports than denialism, the only real difference is that denialism is, for all its lack of grounding in reality, at least more self-consistent.

But in real life, do you actually expect we will stop climate change before it causes any serious harm? When do you think we'll start doing that? We've done almost nothing so far but what we have done is incrementally developed technology to allow humans to comfortably survive severe weather like storms, floods, and droughts. So I say pragmatic because it's a continuation of what we already do, and optimistic because I believe it will be successful at saving us. I've yet to see a highly likely climate change prediction that couldn't be defended against with engineering on a scale smaller than what we've already achieved.

> But in real life, do you actually expect we will stop climate change before it causes any serious harm?

No, we obviously can't, it's already causing serious harm. We can mitigate the rate at which it proceeds so that it's within the range that, with concurrent reasonably acheivable adaptation, doesn't cause global, cataclysmic harm.

Moreover, if we don't act to mitigate it, it will eventually—and in not too long—reach a tipping point where that is no longer the case.

Lol, finally someone with the same opinion as me. Yes, climate change is real, but it would be more expensive to stop it than to adapt to it

Nice to meet you too! It's a pity that so many people insist on taking extremist positions then pigeon-holing everyone into one of them. I just got called equivalent to a climate change denier, that's how pervasive the tribalism is.

> It's a pity that so many people insist on taking extremist positions

The fact that your opinion doesn't align with the usual axis doesn't make it less extremist, it just makes it extreme in an unusual direction.

Erm, I think it’s more like “I have a certain worldview that is only consistent if climate change isn’t real” or “this belief is part of my identity, which means the idea that it could be wrong is threatening to my identity”.

Or, believing in X empowers the opposition and weakens the party who cares about the people I care about.

Yeah, those are also important. This is a big topic :)

Most people believe in climate change also the so called sceptics as the climate is mostly changing. The disagreement mostly is about how severe its going to be and how much human affect it.


The only way to coordinate humans across the globe is bolshevism?

No, that's the free market.

Bolshevism is required to force humans across the globe.

>If I believe in climate change, I have to make expensive life changes (sell the SUV, buy a Tesla, etc).

I think "have to" is a bit strong. I absolutely believe in climate change. But I have no intention of selling (or stop driving) my 2004 Chevrolet Suburban.

Wedding rings are supposed to be expensive, that’s the point. It’s basic signalling. You know this, deep down. Of course there are exceptions, but those are often about explicitly signalling some other virtue. Like hipness.

At the risk of diverging into politics, it's amazing how "influencers" can do this with social media posts without spending lots of money. As long as the information is from someone (company/individual/etc) perceived as reputable, people will believe almost anything at face value. It's much easier than researching something on their own.

Whatever the message, say it loud and often, and it becomes accepted as true. Call it spin, call it PR, call it marketing, it works.

Some people value information and being right less so make a trade off.

If I found an “influencer” who was right on product recommendations 95% of the time it would be a relief and I’d be so happy to get all that research time back.

I think the bar for right enough varies among different people. And for some people it applies to everything from politics to science. These people are also likely to believe the topics too complex to follow in detail. If they choose a good person to follow they may be more right than if they researched themselves.

What you attribute to laziness could perhaps be seen in a different light: economizing time plus intimidation/fear.

Put another way, not "lazy" then, but "slow". Because if you're "fast" enough (in understanding something new or different), you can do more of your own research and thinking and demand a higher bar on the outsourcing accuracy.

Yes, I agree, and it really is a feature (flaw?) of human psychology. As much as I want to say that I want to make sure that I research something before doing or buying it, more often than not I just choose something based on emotion. Even for something like programming, I wonder if I use libraries based on their utility or on the star power of the guy who built it. It takes a lot of mental power to weigh pros and cons versus just choosing and hoping for the best.

A diamond is forever, even if your climate is not. Using diamonds for carbon sequestration seems like the wrong approach, though.

diamonds can burn, and temperatures reached in house fires are sufficiently hot enough to burn diamonds. cubic zirconia, on the other hand, will survive a house fire.

My experience of a housefire is that there is far more water and smoke damage to contents than heat.

That depends on the response time of the firefighters, ie. how long the fire is allowed to rage.

If it's an old house, there is going to be a bit more "stuff" in the wallpaper and furniture. Airborne cooking grease in the kitchen, and as disgusting as it sounds, human sweat and grease in the soft furniture.

A well-used armchair with a decade or two under its belt is going to go up in flames disturbingly fast when it catches on fire.

Depending on oxygen availability, you're right that smoke will do most of the initial damage, but as soon as the windows blow out, things heat up dramatically.

Read about that business in detail in this good book.


Or the staggering number of anti-GMO laws and business ad campaigns.

GMO are a very powerful technology.

Like anything powerful, an intelligent person calls for caution.

A lot of people are worrying about GMO in food because we don't have enough data about them. We are changing things that could have important biological, health and ecological impacts, but the companies producing them are not willing to test them extensively for safety during 20 years before selling them.

We don't know what are the long term effects of cross breeding the GMO species with non GMO ones. We don't know the long term effects of the fauna. We don't known the long term (on decades) effects of ingesting any of them.

What we know is that if you give mouses the GMO food in isolation for a short time, they don't develop apparent problems. That's not a lot to go on, especially since very simple products, like processed meat, revealed themself as being carcinogenous on the long run (http://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/).

That's not science to me. That's business as usual.

I don't trust business. History taught me that for profit entities don't make the right decisions on this. After all, we knew asbestos was dangerous in 1920, but had to wait 1980 to act on it. After all, we fed cows with meat while knowing it's an herbivore, leading to spongiform encephalopathy. After all, we used the least safe nuclear technology we knew about because it was more suited for our military ambitions.

On a technology as complex as GMO, with a lot of interactions in different systems, it can take a lot of time to realize something is wrong. If it happens, it will take even more time before we act. The companies creating GMO will then, as usual, protect them-self to the extreme, and eventually just pay some money to get out of trouble, money they already earned by selling the GMO anyway.

So yes, whether it's GMO in food, nano-particles or anything that is very potent, I think it's fair to say "hey, slow down, we are not doing our homework here" when the other side is just trying to sell it to everybody.

It's a matter of agenda.

This is exactly the kind of misinformation being described above.

Why would "traditional" crops going through random mutations be any safer than GMO crops going through highly controlled, highly tested mutations?

It isn't a mysterious process - it's science. It allows us to create products like Golden Rice to alleviate malnutrition and increase crop yields. It's probably the only thing which has helped curtail world hunger in any meaningful capacity.

> Why would "traditional" crops going through random mutations be any safer

Time and scale. We just had more time to check it out.

> highly tested mutations

Highly tested for being economically sound. That's all.

> It isn't a mysterious process - it's science

Nobody said it was mysterious. Read the comment again. We are not against progress. Quoting Rabelais, "science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul". The testing process needs to be improved.

> It's probably the only thing which has helped curtail world hunger in any meaningful capacity.

We already produce more food than we need. We throw a lot of it and we are fat while others are hungry. Hunger, not more than war, has never been a technological problem. It's a human problem.

And GMO sellers have no interest in solving human problems, they target economical problems.

Again, it's a matter of agenda.

>Time and scale. We just had more time to check it out.

Random mutations don't follow a pattern. They're random. You can't look at the past history and say "Yep look fine to me".

>Highly tested for being economically sound. That's all.

Complete nonsense. GMOs are studied extensively for their nutrition, allergens, toxicity, and virtually every other metric under the sun.

This testing is a requirement of the FDA. "Economics" has nothing to do with it, and you're just throwing out Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt to try and discredit it.

>The testing process needs to be improved.

Where has it failed? There has not been a single allergen introduced in any GMO approved for human consumption. The same can not be said for non-GMOs.

>We already produce more food than we need.

So it's a solved problem and no new technology is needed, right?

People are still dying. GMOs are the only method that have allowed us to keep up with the problem at all.

>And GMO sellers have no interest in solving human problems

Food shortages and malnourishment aren't "human problems"? GMOs like Golden Rice have been engineered specifically to solve this human problem. GMOs allow farmers to produce the same yields in less farmland, reducing the environmental impact of agriculturalization.

>Again, it's a matter of agenda.

Consider your own agenda. Are you arguing from a position of scientific evidence, or one based on a distrust of corporation?

Breeding over time is slow. When you select crops over generations to improve a seed stock you are not making radical changes quickly, and you are not introducing genes from other species.

It is the pace of change and the scope of change that makes GMO crops more dangerous than those we have modified over 1000s of years of selective breeding.

And BTW, even in natural selection, there can be instances where a naturally occurring mutation causes a change in a species which has drastic and rapid implications for the environment in which it reproduces and spreads. For example the evolution of oxygen-creating organisms created a toxic environment which killed 99% of life that existed in the oxygen-free environment before those organisms came into existence.

> more dangerous

That kind of unqualified/unjustified claim is misinformation designed to generate an emotional reaction, not rational analysis.

Nature often produces very dangerous on it's own. It doesn't always take that long. For example, Tifton 85, a hybrid of bermudagrass created using traditional cross pollination methods, has the unfortunate property of producing cyanide in some soils[1].

Testing is important regardless of the techniques used to create a new species. Focusing on species created using modern techniques improperly ignores the numerous older methods that are just as dangerous (and often harder to predict).

[1] https://www.wired.com/2012/06/cyanide-and-poisoned-cows/

>When you select crops over generations to improve a seed stock you are not making radical changes quickly, and you are not introducing genes from other species.

Non-GMO breeding methods can also mutate rapidly. One example is mutation breeding, where a plant is exposed to high levels of radiation to encourage rapid mutation. This does not require any labelling.


As for genes from other species, this is known as horizontal gene transfer and it actually does happen in nature. It's even occurred in humans.


It's worth bearing in mind that there is no such thing as a "fish gene", or "strawberry gene". They're just genes. All forms of life have considerable overlap between them.

> When you select crops over generations to improve a seed stock you are not making radical changes quickly

You are with modern non-GMO, mutagen-accelerated breeding methods.

And yet none of the food we farm hasn’t been modified, genetically. None of it is natural. Are you as worried about new strains of rice? I can see a good argument to worry about all of it, but picking a particular method and demonising it confuses me. But perhaps it’s because I’ve not been exposed to the anti-GMO propaganda (and pro-) that the USA is flooded with that I’m not “intelligent”?

> And yet none of the food we farm hasn’t been modified, genetically

On one hand we have a complex adaptative ecological system we lived in for millions of years and adapted to it. We leverage it as a context to make plants change in a way we tested for a lot of time as well. All that happen in the boundaries of this tested system, but only benefit from the self-balancing mechanism of said system.

Then, the result itself, by nature, is slow enough that we can assess the effects.

On the other hand, we have a very new barely tested tool we use to make a big change on a very small and limited characteristics of an organism. We have little feedback on it, we don't have the context of a huge ecosystem to drive it. We just think, that, according to a few variables we know, it should be ok. Also the result are very fast and we can't see the effects yet.

It's like the difference between loosing weight with quick diets and one with a balance diet. The first one can have very accurate variables it works on, and kwow scientifically the causes and effects of what will make you loose weight.

However, it's almost always better to loose weight on a longer, but more global balance diet. The system of your body adapts to a lot of things, and is not an island without a context. It's not just a program with a few variables. It has a LOT of variables, evolves, and is influenced by what's going on outside.

The way you see thing is a very reductionist thinking. It means because we understand small parts of a system, we understand it all. And since we understand it all, we are safe from mistakes.

The thing is, I know many friends who can tell you exactly what are the social interactions happening on a diner table, and yet can't do anything about it. The reductionist mindset make for great rocket scientists, but terrible gardeners.

> Are you as worried about new strains of rice?

There is no such things as a free lunch. Selective breeding coupled with intensive farming have caused a diminishing of biodiversity and rendered a lot of our crops vulnerable to predators and parasites. In return, we use more pesticides, which has been shown to have harmful consequences on our health, but also on the ecosystem, e.g: killing a massive about of useful bugs.

The thing is, I don't really trust for profit entities to make the right decision when it's about the future of the human specie. It's not their agenda. It's not about being bad or good, it's just the nature of thing: when something is not your priority, you don't do it.

> But perhaps it’s because I’ve not been exposed to the anti-GMO propaganda

I'm not American.

GMO should be safer than natural breeding. Natural breeding you get random gene mutations where GMO, its all controlled. Good example is the Lenape potato which they accidentally reactivated the solanine trait in potatoes and made a potato that was toxic to humans.


I also do not have data on almost all the food that I eat.

We do have experience with traditionally grown plants and mixing and cooking them for centuries. So we have the feedback on that.

It's actually a big problem currently for a lot of food.

We do have more cancer, diabetes, obesity and such disease than ever. Those are all problems that are at the very minimum influenced by food. But it took a few decades to manifest.

We may also have many others we do know we have yet, or that we don't know are linked to food.

Occam's Razor, though, says that there are far less likely to have problems with a raw cucumber that we have been eating for 1000 of years than with a Ben n Jerry ice cream we just recently invented, and optimized for people pleasure and the cheapest batch production.

And I really, really love BnJ.

I trust governments less than companies because governments have thousands of years of history attesting to their ability to commit genocide based on ideology. Governments have killed millions because of ideas! Companies don’t have an incentive to kill their customers. And, a free market leads to people being able to choose to buy things from companies they like or refusing to buy dangerous products. People rarely have a choice in their government. Governments are inflicted upon people without a lot of power to stop them; companies can die relatively easily if they aren’t serving their customers.

Educated people who hate GMO are instant signal that they don’t understand science. A good filter

I don't necessarily hate all GMO but I'm very dubious about GMO crops that are engineered to withstand Glyphosate better and I prefer not to eat such crops because they are more likely to have been treated with this herbicide.

Farmer here: We apply glyphosate to both GMO (roundup ready) and non-GMO crops. The big difference is when: The roundup ready crops can have it applied early in the growing season. The non-GMO crops have to wait until just before harvest, when you don't care, or even prefer, that the crop dies.

What's the benefit to apply glyphosate just before harvest.

Hasn't all the growing already been done? Is it to avoid bringing in bugs with the harvest?

Weed control for future crops and/or desiccation.

Some farmers with apply roundup just before harvest in order to desiccate the plant. This makes harvesting much simpler and cheaper, as you don't have to wait for the plants to dry naturally, or deal with moisture rich plants after harvest.

Actually, they use just as much glyphosate when growing wheat (not GMO) as when growing corn (maybe 80% is GMO) in the US.

      production     333 000 000 tons
      glyphosate use  69 000 000 lb
      production      58 000 000 tons
      glyphosate use  17 000 000 lb
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5044953/ (Table 3)

Why? Are you a dicotyledon that relies on the shikimic acid pathway to synthesize folates?

The parent is probably a very complex system with too many pathways involved in their life to be confident that none of them will get involved in a side-reaction. I'm not a surface impurity on a roll of sheet metal but that doesn't mean I'll stick my hand into a steel pickling vat.

That’s just as legitimate an argument for eating nothing at all, though.

Why do you have that preference? It's my understanding that the alternatives are worse.

Organic food is worse than food wich was treated with various chemicals to kill living things?

Thats news to me.

But you probably mean "alternatives" for producing dirt cheap. Then yes, there are much worse substances around. Doesn't make it good, though.

Organic food IS food which is treated with various chemicals to kill living things. But the list of various chemicals are arbitrarily defined as "natural", putting them in the same list as other safe, natural chemicals like ricin, botulinum, strychnine, arsenic...

"Organic" is a marketing term, not a descriptor of the production process.

>"Organic" is a marketing term, not a descriptor of the production process.

I generally agree with this, but with the caveat that tomatoes are an exception as I understand it.

It's nothing to do with being GMO or pesticides used, but rather the fact that conventionally grown tomatoes are generally harvested significantly pre-ripening, and then gassed with ethylene to promote them turning red.

My understanding -- and if I'm wrong about this someone please do chime in -- is that ethylene gassing isn't acceptable for tomatoes that are labeled organic (but is for some "organic" fruits like bananas). It's possible it's all placebo, but tomatoes are the one fruit/vegetable I tend toward actually using organic as result.

No, I mean that the chemicals used in organic farming to kill living things are more harmful to humans than glyphosate is.

The (small) organic farmers I know dont use pesticides at all. And as far as I know, here in europe they would not be allowed to use anything realy toxic, when they want to have the organic label.

So things are different in the US then? Or also for europe? sources please.

> The (small) organic farmers I know dont use pesticides at all.

They aren't representative of the bulk of organic food production. Overall, organic food production is, like non-organic food production, dominated by large, industrial agriculture concerns that do use pesticides.

Here's a list of 12 chemicals approved for use in organic farming:


That site believes organic farming is a hoax. It also also seems to be mixing up data about US regulation and UK opinion (and thus EU regulation). An intro to EU regulation for organic plant farming is https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/eu-policy/eu-rules-...

> Organic food is worse than food wich was treated with various chemicals to kill living things?

Organic food is, itself, generally food which is treated with various chemicals to kill living things. The choice of chemicals involved, and the choice of actual food crop, is limited by concerns that are chosen on bases which are not well adapted to either maximizing safety of the food or minimizing environmental impact of the food growing process.

Organic food is treated with pesticides and herbicides too. There's a limited list of allowed chemicals, some of which are much worse than glycophosphate.

To be sure we're all on the same page, there are differences in organic regulation in the US vs the EU. I don't know much about the US situation, but an outline of EU general regulations for organic plants is https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/eu-policy/eu-rules-... :

> Basic substances allowed in organic agriculture comply with two criteria: i) they are of vegetable or animal origin ii) they are considered to be "foodstuff"

That's not true, though, there are authorized exceptions, like copper. See Annex II, table 3: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=uriserv%...

Right, don't forget about people who are opposed to nuclear because of Fukushima. A good filter of people who don't understand science and how safe the nuclear industry is.

I'm pro nuclear, but given that the side effects on the oceans and hence the entire planet are still to be accounted for and that we won't know before decades, I find that comment quite arrogant.

It's also discarding the real suffering of all the people that were affected by the 3 major nuclear accidents. I have a friend of mine who his medicated for life because of Chernobyl.

Black and white are rarely the winning colors.

> I'm pro nuclear, but given that the side effects on the oceans and hence the entire planet are still to be accounted for and that we won't know before decades, I find that comment quite arrogant.

The ocean already has about 4.5 billion tons of naturally-occurring uranium in it, as well as many other radioactive substances. Fukushima wouldn't have made a significant difference in that figure if they'd ground up the entire reactor to a powder and dumped every single bit of it in the ocean. You could perhaps produce localized contamination by doing that, but not on the scale of the oceans as a whole.

For that matter, the Soviet Union used to dump their scrap submarine reactors straight into the ocean. They did that with a bunch of them.

> The ocean already has about 4.5 billion tons of naturally-occurring uranium in it

Intensity and locality are important factors. You can eat a spoonfull of sugar everyday for a year and be ok, but eating 365 in one day is going to be a different story.

Because ocean are very complex an interactive system, and local intense event can then have a domino effect on the rest.

Now as I said, we don't know the effects yet. I'm not pretending I know if it's bad either. That's the meaning of "we don't know".

But given we have only one planet and we kinda sitting on it, it seems very silly to me to state "nah, we'll be fine" and discard risks. That's how teenagers react.

I suspect parent's comment was actually sarcastic, rather than arrogant.

Nuclear is a term burdened with ambiguity - most people mean nuclear fission, some people mean nuclear fusion. As far as filters for scientific understanding, it's probably better than 'GMO is bad'.

Or that they understand science and don't want to be in the experimental group. They would rather be in the control.

That's a rather elegant and funny way to put it.

Unfortunately, a huge issue is that it's almost impossible to be in the control group anymore. Or if it is, it demands huge efforts and is very hard to check the success of it.

I understand the scientists defending the GMO. But quite often, they assume people in charge are making decisions the same way they do. However, the people in charge often make decisions according to economical factors, science being just a tool toward that goal.

Lots of smart people have problems with Monsanto's business practices rather than GMO specifically.

Maybe we should have "Non-Monsanto" labels then, instead of "Non-GMO."

Also, the fact is that Monsanto, which has had trouble with its ethical reputation, is very adamant about GMO.

So if you don't trust Monsanto for most things, you will especially not trust it to tell you the truth about the safety of its products nor about the completeness of their tests to ensure said safety.

> Also, the fact is that Monsanto, which has had trouble with its ethical reputation, is very adamant about GMO.

It's adamant about the safety of its GMO lines and (in the case of Roundup Ready) the pesticide products that are complementary to them.

It's, OTOH, also a big producer of non-GMO seed and actively markets products to the organic food industry.

What specifically has Monsanto done that was unethical?

It creates seeds you can't harvest, plant and grow again to maintain a captive market.

When it can't do that, it sues farmers that harvest, plan and grow the seed it wants to protect.

This includes Monsanto's crops contaminating other crops like in the Vernon Hugh Bowman case.

It also promoted (at least in France) round up as biodegradable but we eventually found out it didn't, and went to contaminate the drinking water.

Which is a problem, given that glyphosate based products are currently in the process of being banned in Europe.

The answer from Monsanto to that has been ghostwriting reports and pretend they didn't come from them.

The Supreme Court unanimously disagreed with you on Bowman v. Monsanto so I fail to see what was unethical there. In fact Vernon Bowman intentionally violated a contract that he voluntarily entered into so it seems clear he was the unethical party.

Legality and ethics are very different things.

Not at all. US law is pretty much in line with the national consensus on ethics (although perhaps not with your personal ethics). There are occasional discrepancies but when the national consensus undergoes major shifts the laws are usually revised accordingly within a few decades.

US people can't remotely agree on death penalty, marijuana usage, gun control, gay support, the church, abortion, war, trump or snowden. In a country where it's legal to openly give money to politicians, spy on all citizens and by pass habeas corpus.

I really doubt your statement.

So you agree with me that there are no clear universal ethical standards in some areas. You still haven't shown how Monsanto's actions were unethical.

Yes. Lying about harmful products you are selling is something unethical to my taste. At this point, I expect you to disagree.

In my case it's with the hard push to Hybrids, which is a major risk for the stability of the world's food supply (due to the strong mono culture, it's relatively easy for a willing player to first stock up on food, and then deliver pests for all major food hybrids that are only as effective because they are hybrids and not a healthy pool of genetic diversity. Also, if the hybrid seeds producing facilities were to be targeted, at the right time, it might not be possible to coordinate sufficient seeding of the available seeds, which the farmers might not even know how to plant/grow, as the non-hybrids are rather different from the hybrids, as far as optimum growing parameters go.

The primary issue with Monsanto specifically would then be that they actively try to prevent farmers from using non-hybrid seeds. Also, one would be surprised how well grains grow without pesticides, if the land is properly cared for. There was a time before pesticides were as widely available, and they did not have the time to weed the whole field by hand ;)

If it's so easy to deliver pests which target those crops then why hasn't any terrorist group done it yet? The reality is that it would be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible with current technology.

Farmers aren't stupid. Monsanto has no way to prevent them from using non-hybrid seeds. Farmers will plant whichever seeds they expect to deliver the highest ROI.

Grain production before pesticides was far lower. Back then famines were common rather than something that only happened during wartime. Don't ask us to return to the dark ages.

What about Monsanto suing everyone?

Most of those, too, turn out to be supported by myths about specific cases they have been spread by anti-GMO propagandists.

That's not saying much. Most of us don't understand most science behind anything outside of our limited specializations. These beliefs are manifestations of people's distrust of large institutions.

People believe GMO is bad because they believe that large corporations would do anything for a buck regardless of long term consequences.

Alien abduction, anti-vaxers, 9/11 inside job and other conspiracy theories are just ways for people to express their distrust of government.

Global warming deniers don't trust the liberal media.

The pattern is: I don't trust X. What is the worst thing I could believe about X.

There's a world of difference between a proper conspiracy and thinking GMOs and powerful pesticides might not be a good idea. I don't avoid them but I don't think it's all that unlikely they'll turn out to have negative effects.

And you just filter out most of of the world. Most in EU are against GMO, China is against imported GMO ( They only allow certain GMO options / products ) The only nation on earth that is a large proponent of GMO food is US. But even US consumers are divided on this issues

At one point in time I thought GMO was a necessary evil, in order to feed the world better. Simplot used to pride their GMO potato that has much better yields then anyone else on the planet. But climate changes proves no breed is best for all time. In the mean time, a few European companies ; failing to combat the GMO production yield and had comparatively worse climate to grown potatoes, manage to outrun any US companies potato yield with machine learning. This is of course an over simplify version of it, but the story proves we don't need GMO to feed the world.

> Educated people who hate GMO are instant signal that they don’t understand science.

Not actually being familiar with the science in a particular domain and not understanding as science are very different things.

We don’t dispute climate change. We dispute that man-made CO2 is the cause of it. Still waiting for the apocalypse promised in An Inconvenient Truth that was promised by 2016.

I don't think that's such a good example. Climate change should be debated. Not if it's happening but to what extent and effect. Science after all is about questioning findings and theories. Discussing climate change shouldn't be about politics first and foremost but about science.

As for De Beers, throwing marketing dollars at misinformation pretty much has been their business model since the 1930s. Diamonds are a girl's best friend ...

> Climate change should be debated

Yes, by people who are trained scientists and researchers. We don't need more poorly informed, mathematically weak, statistically challenged, dilletantes yelling into the mix.

the skeptic in me thinks these man made diamonds they make are made so that it won't last forever. I bet in 5yrs these diamonds would somehow fade or even break so they can keep selling natural long lasting diamonds.

My guess there are doped with detectable elements as to ensure they are never confused with real diamonds.


Read this article: https://www.thestar.com/business/2018/05/29/de-beers-to-sell...

Read the last paragraph:

The move also comes at a sensitive time for De Beers and its relationship with Botswana, the source of three-quarters of its diamonds. The two have a sales agreement that gives De Beers the right to market and sell the diamonds from Botswana. The deal, which gives De Beers its power over global prices, will soon be up for negotiation and Botswana is likely to push for more concessions.

So this is not about man-made diamonds; it's a negotiating tactic! They'll use this move to pressure Botswana to accept weaker conditions and less money.

Good? If the acceptable price paid for diamonds in both the wholesale and retail markets is lowered, then the pressure to mine diamonds (and the attendant violence & natural damage) should be lowered as well. That seems like a good outcome? Additionally, DeBeers is unlikely to be able to dominate the lab-grown market so this step should legitimize lab-grown stones with little risk of creating another monopoly.

I wouldn't jump to any such conclusions.

De Beers has spent the last 100+ years controlling the diamond industry's economics in it's entirety, from mining (via such contracts) to retail. They even invented the diamond engagement ring tradition, as we know it today. De Beers are most active on the wholesale side, where they control supply (and when they can, demand) to maintain stable, high "prices."

...That's why they are/control a cartel. I have no doubt that de beers does not intend to enter this market so that they can compete in an "efficient" level playing field. That's not what they do. They want to exert control over one or both of these markets, in some way. That is always the de beers business plan.

Anyway... I always get a little worried when people apply the basics of supply-demand logic everywhere. Classical economics describes markets of a certain type: many buyers and sellers, reasonable transparency & information flow, not too much collusion, reasonably low transaction costs, mild psychology/cultural effects..... This is some fraction of the economy but not all.

Supply-demand is not the main thing determining outcomes (prices & volume) in a lot of big markets: labour, financial services, banking, oil, ISPs... diamonds. Supply and demand effect those markets, but not in a way that can be described by 2 intersecting curves.

Hasn't neoclassical economics been adapting supply/demand reasoning to markets without perfect competition for quite a long time though?

This doesn't mean that retail prices would drop.

Interestingly enough, this starts to bring up questions that have previously only been super active in science fiction circles, particularly, Star Trek: If you can perfectly recreate something down to the molecular level, what actually has value? (Assuming, someday, that synthetic versions are excessively cheap, in Star Trek's case.)

If you can replicate cooked food perfectly, will people still claim that "real" food, grown, slaughtered, and cooked, is "better" or tastes "more authentic", despite no technical difference?

Synthetic diamonds could, in fact, be in every way "better" (though hilariously, De Beers suggests a synthetic diamond "may not be forever"), but I won't be surprised if authentic diamonds remain the "real ones" long term. (After all, as we know, diamonds actually have no real value, it's all marketing.)

I think this theme was first explored in depth in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Having a "real" animal was a status symbol.

Same author, earlier exploration: The Man in the High Castle (1962) explored it in the context of otherwise-identical objects, one of which was involved in some historic event, the other of which wasn't

Was this what they covered in the TV show with the fake antiques? They didn't dwell too much on it, I really should read the book.

IIRC in the TV show there's a scene where the Americana shopkeeper (Mr. Childan) shows someone two identical cigarette lighters, one of which was in the pocket of FDR when FDR was assassinated (Man in the High Castle takes place in an alternate timeline). In the novel, this is actually done by the owner of the fake-gun-factory, and it gets a longer treatment.

I remember that scene. Now I have even more reason to read the book :)

This is the only version I've known— I haven't read the book.

I highly recommend this story to anyone who's even slightly curious.

You're right! I need to read that one again...

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is great. Walter Benjamin explored some related ideas in essay form in 1935, link below. There's probably some Platonic dialogues about related topics 2,300 years before both though.


The problem is that value for the unseeable differences is simply a human idea. Why would the paint arranged on a canvas by a famous artist have more value than the same paint arranged on the same canvas by myself?

Value comes in the appreciation of the art. So diamonds that have been created over billions of years probably has more appreciation than ones created in 500 hours, even if they are exactly the same at the molecular level.

Really? I think its just status signalling.

Pretty much. Read Bourdieu's Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, one of the key sociological texts of the past few decades. It essentially makes this argument using slightly different terminology.

> Interestingly enough, this starts to bring up questions that have previously only been super active in science fiction circles, particularly, Star Trek: If you can perfectly recreate something down to the molecular level, what actually has value? (Assuming, someday, that synthetic versions are excessively cheap, in Star Trek's case.)

This is really getting at a core contradiction in how we analyze value. On the one hand, you have something's monetary value. This is the exchange value - the value you can get, denominated in a currency, via a sale. On the other hand, something you need has value because it fulfills a role when you use it. This is use value.

We don't consider use value at all when talking about the value of a good and consider the exchange value to be paramount. But this makes no sense. When you're starving, a loaf of bread is quite literally worth your entire world. When you have plenty of food, one more loaf of bread is worth almost nothing at all. When you need to get around, one car is extremely useful. Hundreds of cars together are essentially worthless, except perhaps to rent to others (literally rent-seeking).

If you can recreate something down to its molecular level, and produce arbitrarily many copies, then it's only value can be its use value. And use value is difficult to quantify as it's tied to the subjective experience of need.

> If you can replicate cooked food perfectly, will people still claim that "real" food, grown, slaughtered, and cooked, is "better" or tastes "more authentic", despite no technical difference?

I suspect that some amount of this comes from our attempts to justify the price we pay. It costs more, and so it must be worth more. We invent reasons in our minds to justify the dissonance. Though, if you experience something better, there isn't really any argument that can satisfactorily say that you don't, since experience is subjective, anyway.

>"If you can perfectly recreate something down to the molecular level, what actually has value?"

The raw materials themselves, I think. After all, you have to supply the basic building blocks to replicate objects. That's why there is the feed in The Diamond Age, bringing the raw materials, plus vacuum and power.

Until you can artificially create heavy elements, their rarity will determine their value.

>"If you can replicate cooked food perfectly, will people still claim that "real" food, grown, slaughtered, and cooked, is "better" or tastes "more authentic", despite no technical difference?"

Yes, absolutely. At least certain segments will, witness how people fawn over "artisanal craft" this-and-that. More effort goes into the production, so there is more of an emotional connection. The mass produced item could be superior to the hand crafted item, but the latter will feel more "real" to a lot of people. Even more so if they craft it themselves.

It's just how we're wired, I think.

> The raw materials themselves, I think. After all, you have to supply the basic building blocks to replicate objects. That's why there is the feed in The Diamond Age, bringing the raw materials, plus vacuum and power.

In the True Synthetic Era, the only input needed is energy, which can be cheaply collected from natural sources until they are exhausted.

That is the ideal, but it will also require absolutely ridiculous amounts of energy to synthesize heavier elements.

This video that was uploaded yesterday explains very well how humans inherently value scarcity, even from a very young age. It could be shells/weird looking stones/trading cards/gold/cryptocurrency. If it is rare humans will value it.

If you could create diamonds at will in a lab the price of it's price is bound to go down significantly, it's not just a matter of supply and demand.


Furthermore, at room temperature, diamond is not forever. Graphite is.


If I ever decide to propose to someone, I'm citing you on this point.

Epistemologically, it can never be proven that a clone perfectly replicates an original. It can only be proven that a clone perfectly replicates the original in the dimensions you’ve analyzed (inductive process).

Exactly why a model will never replicate reality.

Not really, because “real” diamonds have very little intrinsic value. Now if we could cheaply manufacture Platinum, or your example of perfectly cooked food, your point would start to be relevant here. As it is, diamond is already a very artificial market.

>Not really, because “real” diamonds have very little intrinsic value

Well, you're quite exaggerating here. Diamonds actually have some very useful physical properties, in particular regarding their hardness, thermal conductivity and optical properties.


> “real” diamonds have very little intrinsic value

>> Diamonds actually have some very useful physical properties.

Physical properties shared and almost always improved upon by their synthetic counterparts. Someone using diamonds exclusively for their optical properties or hardness would probably prefer a synthetic diamond due to the lack of impurities.

They do, but their ubiquity makes them cheap. Coal has useful properties, as does pig iron, but it’s only valuable in bulk. Think of diamond as “white coal” and you’re there.

Star Trek frequently discussed things being slightly off when replicated. Troy wanted "real" chocolate when in a seriously bad mood. Picard kept cases of real caviar for special occasions. I mean, it's a writing trope designed to point out that they are far away from home and play with the concept that scarcity creates value and thus is interesting to human(oid)s.

The ideals of a moneyless society by virtue of just being in the freaking future in TOS and then later because of replicators in TNG and beyond had to be adapted for the multicultural bazaar on Deep Space Nine by introducing Gold Pressed Latinum. Something that replicators couldn't reproduce. I think that is an interesting thought experiment. The only currencies on a federation ship are friendship and duty, but once you add in a mix of cultures and the complexities that develop because of their clashing goals and desires, you need a scarce item to keep accounts. We've done it over and over throughout our human society. My favorite is the Rai Stones[1] from the island of Yap, where they can't even be moved for the most part. The transfer of ownership is purely a social construct.

Diamonds are interesting and I think unparalleled in their arc as a store of value because of how technology is eroding and changing that. Not just the ability to produce them, but information technology swaying trends relating to their status and ethical usage. You can't tell a blood diamond from anything else once it's mixed with others. Some people see diamond jewelry to be akin to wearing fur. Some other people still find the suffering that came from their extraction to be part of the value. Not going to debate the morality of that issue, but I've heard it expressed more than once. Suffering will always be more bespoke even if the item can be identically reproduced. Some might prefer to soften "suffering" to "effort", but I'm unaware of an ethical diamond mining operation. Like lab grown meat, a strong case can me made that once we can make the thing in the lab at scale it is absolutely unethical to extract it from the earth at scale for vanity. No excuses.

In some ways suffering as a store of value is sort of like the social construct of a rai that floats with the idea of the item. Maybe we can build a crypto supply chain technology to verify chain of custody on natural diamonds so you can correctly track the bodies on it and their value in relation to your net worth. I'm only sort of being glib here, making it an accurate record would undoubtedly make them less romantic prizes.

Surely the tools and equipment to create synthetic diamonds will continue to drop in it's price to own and operate. It will be interesting to see how De Beers handles the first online custom gem shop where you can set your specs via your browser and have your gem grown to order, cut, and drop shipped for the price of a latte.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rai_stones

But diamonds aren’t a store of value at all; they have very little resale value.

That's a bit reductive. Retail diamonds are usually priced on their size and the maker of the jewelry that surrounds them. There are investment grade diamonds, but as the article "Diamonds are Bullshit" that is currently at the top of HN[1] illustrates, appraisers sometimes deviate by 100% on that estimate. However if you buy a $7000 ring from Tiffany and walk out the store to a buyer and can get $1000, it is still storing value. It's just an extremely depreciating resource and unstable. It has value, it stores value, it just fucking sucks at it. If you can find another sucker to pull one over on like the retail shop just did to you, then it holds it fine.

I mean, I think I covered all of that pretty well but yeah, to stay it's not a store of value at all just because it's a bad investment is inaccurate.

[1] https://priceonomics.com/post/45768546804/diamonds-are-bulls...

By that definition, just about anything is a store of value. "That Bic pen I just bought at the mall? Store of value" Usually when people refer to something as a store of value, it's understood that it's a good store of value.

Good can mean different things. A given volume/weight of diamonds will typically be worth much more than an equivalent amount of bic pens, or even of gold, so in that sense, diamonds are pretty efficient.

Yeah, that is in line with what I'm saying. This is a bit off the map from my original point about the value of a limited worth resource being held magically in the human suffering required to extract it naturally. My initial point was not that anyone should buy real diamonds at a retail store. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

If you would like to have an argument about something that really doesn't matter I would prefer if it was Star Trek related and not "Diamonds as an Investment" related.

Submitted for your approval.

How does warp drive compensate for the temporal complications of faster than light travel? Earth and the Enterprise all seem to keep the same clock. I'm not convinced they could do that effectively even with the proposed energy output of trilithium. It just doesn't add up. Warp isn't creating a wormhole to punch through subspace, which could account for it (maybe?). Faster than light as a warp bubble stretches space forward and around the ship slinging it to it's destination. After a fun trip to Risa, you would get home and your kids would be elderly. I'm no astrophysicist, but my armchair quarterback understanding says that's the case.

Would travelers aboard a starship essentially become gods compared to their planetary counterparts because of temporal perception? They wouldn't age (from the perspective of the planetary occupants) but they would have accumulated massive experience and useful insight while the planetary toil away in the moisture farms. Checking in from time to time, maybe getting 3 visits in the lifetime of their loved ones. Sorry, mixing universes. I think my point still stands.

What sort of societal constructs would even grow around something like that? How long before the interstellar separate completely as a different race? My bet is not very long, but I think they would still come back to the planetary frequently as it would be an invaluable information resource for their new Galaxy Class civilization.

To keep this debate on the rails, we should probably avoid abuse of concepts involving tachyons. Reverse or otherwise.

Actually, I think it hold value pretty well. At least a Tiffany ring would. But you need to buy it on the secondary market.

Buy the MSRP $7k Tiffany ring for $1k on the secondary market and it will probably grow in value over time. Antique Tiffany has always been pretty sought after.

Sure. Also once on craigslist a guy traded a paperclip all the way up to a house. This is a pretty big digression from my point. I'm not trying to give investment advice, I just think the concepts surrounding artificial diamonds are interesting and also love a chance to bust out some Star Trek trivia.

Since you bring up crypto as a source of scarcity in storing transactional value, I guess my crankiness compels me to note that there isn't a final say on computational resource asymmetry yet either, and is just as valid of a hope as the Star Trek replicator eliminating physical scarcity or more mundanely as the lessening grip of a diamond cartel.

Right now there's currently a (publicly) huge 'security' margin on the time complexity of hash preimage attacks that allows the mining lottery of generating zero-prefixed hash collisions to proceed orderly for Bitcoin as an example. And while you might be tempted to say that because of the relative stability of BTC as a store of value for the past ~8 years is indicative of just how bulletproof that security really is, you might also realize that a market capitalization of only several billion USD is a drop in the ocean of _positive_ human monetary incentives to exploit, nevermind the alignment of negative incentives that work against anyone actually trying to make use of cryptographic breakthroughs in today's society whether as direct profit within the system as it exists today, revolution, or some other grand long-game.

In the P versus NP debate, our universe _could_ potentially be 'Algorithmica' although I know the majority of research mindshare is heavily assumptive of that being a trivially small possibility.

But there's also research lines on other forms of computational resource asymmmetry that we still assume exists but haven't really come up with proof for yet. For example, besides just deterministic versus nondeterministic polytime and the unproven assumption of one-way functions existing, there's also the open question of NC versus P, which roughly translates to the supposed asymmetry of parallel speedups versus sequential processing -- yet another potential source of scarcity if the current incarnation of crypto puzzles doesn't pan out. Computational space is another potentially unproven source of scarcity: PSPACE versus P.

Even really mundanely there potentially exists inversion 'crypto' puzzles of linear versus quadratic time, while not giving the exponentially wide safety margin every everyone expects for practically, could afford enough clearance to transfer and establish value at least between some highly centralized/colluding resource base against some very poor fraudster if that's the only threat model.

Humanities fascination with ascribing, denominating, and transferring 'value' between each other will be the most enduring and profound research avenues while our species last. And while to me that seems vapid to think that figuring out 'what exactly is money?' is the greatest question in the universe, maybe it really is.

I totally didn't bring up crypto as a source of scarcity. I brought it up as a ledger to keep track of chain of custody.

Your points are reasonably related though.

The PoW algorithm can be changed to become harder if necessary, though. There have already been several upgrades over the life of Bitcoin and this is another one that people are anticipating might become necessary in the future.

It's just the path to commodity that every product follows. That's inevitable with gems now that synthetic stones are equivalent, so the choice facing De Beers is to stick with expensive mined stones and die out while the market evolves, or to get a big chunk of the action. The only thing is that to pull it off they had better be ready to cannibalise the existing business and let it go. They need a very long term plan which doesn't always revolve around the next few quarters which might be a tough sell with shareholders.

That question is active here, too; What color are your bits? (Those bits look evergreen to me.)

The concept is literally as old as apple pie baked by grandma rather than in a factory.

Compare synthetic vanilla flavouring vs plant based. Same molecule, but big price difference.

Have you ever compared Vanillin to real fresh Vanilla yourself? Yes, it replicates a large part of the flavor, but certainly not all of it.

Something is different though - vanilla flavouring doesn't taste nearly as good as real vanilla. I guess the vanilla contains a spectrum of substance, whereas the flavouring only contains the main one?


Vanilla is actually vanilla - it's a complex substance. Artificial vanilla is just one component of vanilla - vanillin.

For most food uses, salt gets a similar treatment.

vinyl vs flac. film vs digital.

Not quite 100% identical, but yeah.

A gift from your Ship’s captain - it won’t be of value to anyone else but has intrinsic value for you.

Is a vmotion'ed VM the same as the original one? Is it kind of like a transporter?


I seem to recall that Deep Space 9 touched in this in various ways during its run. Keep in mind that it was the first series that was fully made without Roddenberry input.

TNG, Voyager and Deep Space 9 all at various points made an issue of how the replicated food was not quite the same, without really trying to explain why (a lot of the issues with our mass produced food is exactly that: it's been modified to suit mass production, transport and storage, and often to be cost reduced as well; you'd expect most of those issues to disappear once you're using a replicator).

But you're probably right that DS9 made a bigger deal of it, especially with Sisko's dad and his restaurant featuring more than once, as well as various luxury products fetching high prices, when you might otherwise assume such high prices would quickly ensure they'd get replicated.

> TNG, Voyager and Deep Space 9 all at various points made an issue of how the replicated food was not quite the same, without really trying to explain why

I believe there's a good hint when you combine some stuff from across TNG/DS9/VOY: Replicator patterns are relatively low-resolution for storage.

They only go to the molecular level, not the subatomic/quantum level [0], and even then occasionally have issues [1]. And even if you had a high-quality pattern stored, the replicators themselves are built around that low quality, hence why the genitronic replicator was needed for Worf's spine [2].

Transporters are built on the same technology, but work at the much higher resolution necessary to break down/rebuild a person. However, the amount of memory needed for that is insane [3], hence the specially-designed pattern buffers, which under normal circumstances degrade very quickly [4].

[0] http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Cold_Fire_(episode)

[1] http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/The_Enemy_(episode)

[2] http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Ethics_(episode)

[3] http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Our_Man_Bashir_(episode)

[4] http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Relics_(episode)

TNG touched on it I think - Deanna once tried to have the computer replicate her a chocolate sundae or some such, and it was implied if not outright said that the normal sundae was modified to be more nutritious. I’d imagine tweaking the “junk” out of desserts would make them taste different even if you have molecular control over the results.

Yup, found the clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBWpVjzJXIs&feature=youtu.be...

You'd think that LaForge, or at least Crusher the younger, could do a hoppin' side-business with just one replicator hacked to bypass the nanny functions that turn alcohol into synthahol and chocolate into cocoa-flavored nutriment.

I saw that in the new Lost in Space series, where the 3D printer refused to print a firearm in an emergency, and thought to myself, "ohhhh no you di'n't!" In my mind, I was already patching out the DRM function, or adding stray non-functional voxels to fool its pattern-matching.

That was one of the things I disliked most about TNG, where humanity intentionally crippled itself by installing nannybots everywhere. DS9 brought some of the dirty reality back, with Ferengi-run gambling and holo-prostitution and cops that were actually people. Or goo pretending to be a person, anyway.

A knock-off will always be a knock-off because it lacks the authenticity mark of its creator ... in the case of diamonds, it's time.

In the case of hackintoshes, it's Apple... Prada shoes, the seal of Mario Prada... etc.

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