September 3, 2016 | David F. Coppedge

Wedding Gown Turns Into Pillar of Salt

An art project demonstrated the crystal potential of Dead Sea waters.

This story is not about science per se, even though it was told in Live Science. Tia Ghose reports about a new work of art by Sigalit Landau: a crystal wedding dress. He made it by dipping the wedding dress in the waters of the Dead Sea for two months. A gallery on Live Science shows the progression in a series of underwater shots. Within days, salt crystals form on the black gown. At the end of the experiment, the entire dress is pure white, studded with salt crystals.

Ghose explains the science behind the art. The supersaturated waters of the Dead Sea look for places to nucleate crystals. Those tend to grow and merge as salt comes out of solution.

The initial salt-crystal nucleus still contains a fair amount of water, but as more salt gets deposited and the crystal grows, that water diffuses out of the crystal matrix, according to that article.

As the dress initially caught bits of extra salt, that led to a locally higher concentration of salt, spurring the salt molecules to line up into crystals that eventually grew and transformed this deathly dress into a sparkly saline jewel.

Now stiff and solid, the dress has become a pillar of salt reminiscent of Lot’s Wife (Genesis 19:26).

We’re not claiming that this is how Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt. It is interesting that the area is heavily salt-encrusted, though. Har Sodom, a ridge on the western shore of the Dead Sea, is a mountain of rock salt. However Mrs. Lot suffered her fate, the point of the story in the Bible is not to turn back after fleeing from sin to salvation. Many years later, Jesus used the story as a warning to his followers about the last days: “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). Here is the quote in context:

“Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”

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