Nature is full of patterns. For the most part these all have an organic feel to them, usually due to the soft curves or seeming randomness that’s inherent in it. Artificial things, like those constructed by man, have the opposite feel to them. Nothing highlights this more than when you compare the view of areas like sand dunes or dense forests against that of a city skyline. However every so often the lines between these two worlds seem to blur together with nature producing something that looks like it was forged by hand rather than by the natural processes of the world. One such example of this, and one I wasn’t aware of until I saw this video, was the creation of salt cubes in the Dead Sea:
There are many processes by which things like this can occur, Bismuth is a great example of this, taking on shapes that look down right otherworldly in origin, unlike many other minerals that take on much more organic shapes in their natural form. However in the case of Bismuth as well as these salt cubes there’s a simple explanation behind why they end up looking the way they do. For these salt cubes it comes down to the microscopic nature of the molecule, namely sodium chloride (table salt), manifesting itself in macro form.
The Dead Sea is a giant salt lake with an average salt content of around 35%. This is the perfect environment for salt crystals to form and since the solution is so saturated with salt the amount of impurities that make it into the crystal are relatively low. Thus the crystal structure grows in the most idyllic way which just so happens to be a square lattice. Whilst the cubes shown in the video are relatively small the limit on their size is no where near that, with square crystals able to grow up to several kilograms in size. If you were so inclined you could probably grow one several meters in size in a laboratory although the usefulness of such an activity would be highly questionable.
But you would have a giant cube of salt, no one could argue with that 🙂