Watch out, Superman! Kryptonite found on Earth

Canadian scientists have discovered a new mineral here on Earth that matches the chemical description of kryptonite, the substance that robs comic book hero Superman of his powers.

The mineral, discovered by geologists in a mine in Jadar, Serbia, has the chemical formula sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide, the same formula used to describe kryptonite in the 2006 film Superman Returns.

But the similarities end there said Pamela Whitfield, a scientist from the National Research Council's Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology in Ottawa.

While the interstellar rocks from the comic books were typically green glowing crystals, the new mineral is a white, powdery substance with no radioactive qualities.

"It's definitely not radioactive," Whitfield told CBC News Online. "I was working with it for weeks and I haven't grown a second head or anything."

Scientists at the Natural History Museum in London enlisted the aid of Whitfield and Yvon Le Page from the NRC to determine if the substance was indeed a new mineral. Whitfield performed a process called powder diffraction to analyze its structure and Le Page was able to confirm the results.

Whitfield said that outside the coincidence of its chemical name, the substance is relatively unremarkable. Around 30 to 40 new minerals are discovered on Earth each year, she said.

The mineral will be named Jadarite, after the town where it was discovered. It cannot be called Kryptonite because it does not contain krypton, an inert gas already found in the periodic table of elements.


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