The Quartz and its family

Exhibition presented at the Museum of Bohemian Carst in Beroun, from April 20th to August 28th, 2011.

Author: Ing. Jiří Šura, geologist of MEB Pardubice

Press Release

The exhibition shows the diversity and beauty of quartz varieties, as well as the importance of silicon and its compounds for nature and our civilization. Similarly like we can't imagine life without carbon, we would have almost nothing surrounding us without silicon. Technical applications are divided into 15 fields of human activities and great importance is given to the production and usage of crystals, glass, ceramics, carborundum and silicones. Hundreds of mostly polished agate and jasper samples from the whole world showing the diversity of natural varieties of a single chemical compound - SiO2. The aesthetic effect and impression are enhanced by observation using binocular microscope - there are unknown worlds hidden in the stones, their macrophotos accompany this exhibition...

The Quartz and its family exhibition in short

Flint handaxe, electric iron, sunroof, cellphone, thermal insulation or beer bottle. What do these have in common? In the origin of them is quartz or silicon. Quartz plays a vital role in nature and in human civilization's achievements too. Whether it is a nettle, laminated ship or homing missile: it wouldn't exist without quartz.

Quartz and its family can be found almost everywhere around us. Sometimes, it's a pure form (as in a digital watch or sparking, which we ignite gas with), or in another form, known by everyone as originating in silica (eg. glass), but often its forms is so far from the above mentioned, that only experts know it. Quartz, related silicates and their mixtures form a pillar of the construction industry. The concrete, as we remember, is made of limestone, but it is not the whole truth, because the concrete is a silicate! Silicon extracted from quartz is fundament of electronics, and any computer, cellphone or trolley bus engine wouldn't exist without it. Silicates are the basis of ceramics, everyone uses pottery and bricks, but even ceramic plates, protecting the space shuttle from burning plasma with a temperature of several thousand degrees. Fiberglass warms us up and cools us, we link cities and countries together with it, and it's used in electronic devices, cars and much more things. Saying silicones, people probably imagine an "improved" actress. Howewer, without Silicones, we wouldn't have leak proof pipelines, aquarium or peacemakers helping people live better. Quartz and its relatives help to entertain ourselves, protect us, we live in them, do the washing in them, cook in them, and what's even more, we eat them and drink them, often without taking notice of it. Ancient and medieval people attributed miraculous properties to quartz, howewer, the extent of its usage today goes far beyond the boldest ideas of our ancestors.

And what about the nature? No other mineral in the world has as much shapes and colors as quartz. Diversity of particularly agate and jasper is probably endless. But their beauty is usualy hidden in unsightly lump, still able to come alive with a contribution of human skills - the stone must be skillfully cut and carefully polished. Aesthetic effect grows up, when we use a binocular microscope - in stones we often discover whole unknown worlds, as the following photographs show...

the exhibition "Quartz and its Family" is about all of this and about many other things associated with quartz. The exhibition is opening to public since 13th February 2009, in the Museum of Eastern Bohemia in Hradec Králové. The exhibition is a remarkable combination of utility and beauty, technical skills and unlimited human imagination of nature, the apparent and exceptional things, all of it based on a single chemical compound: SiO2.