October 10, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Make Your Face Sparkle With Diatoms

Human engineers may join forces with cellular architects to produce the next generation of paints, cosmetics and holograms, reported Science Daily.  Scientists are finding ways to harness the rapid growth of diatoms. 

Manufacturing consumer products with these properties currently requires energy-intensive, high-temperature, high-pressure industrial processes that create tiny artificial reflectors.  But farming diatom shells, which essentially harnesses a natural growth process, could provide an alternative that takes place at normal room temperature and pressure, dramatically reducing energy needs and so cutting carbon dioxide emissions.  The process is also extremely rapid — in the right conditions, one diatom can give rise to 100 million descendants in a month.

The products are also biodegradable and have a low carbon footprint.  Someday the holograms on your credit card, the shimmering fabric in your clothes, and the sparkle in your face may owe their dazzle to miniature glass-makers of the sea, diatoms.

The picture of the five-pointed star diatom in the Science Daily article is worth a thousand words.  How did a little one-celled organism figure that out?  And why?  Surely a plain pill box would have sufficed for survival, but God gave living things beauty as well as function.  Search on Diatoms in the search box above for more fascinating facts about these creatures and how they grow their exquisite glass houses.

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