Neutrons used to examine Harvard’s priceless gold specimen

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Scientists at a federal laboratory have helped to unravel some of the mysteries of a rare specimen of wire gold discovered at a Colorado mine more than 130 years ago.

Officials at Harvard University’s mineral museum had asked Los Alamos National Laboratory for help in understanding more about the structure of the gold specimen known as the Ram’s Horn. They say it’s the finest known example of its kind.

No scientific studies previously had been published on the internal nature of the specimen.

Scientists used neutrons from a half-mile-long particle accelerator at the New Mexico lab to see deeper into the sample. They determined it’s a mix of gold and silver and is composed of only a few single crystals.

The specimen will be the centerpiece of an exhibit at Harvard’s Museum of Natural History in 2020.

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