Cobalt-Like Magnetic Mystery
Date: Summer 2010
I was using a metal detector and found a piece of what looks
like cobalt colored glass....but it is Extremely Magnetic. It is also
Extremely Dense. I have worked in aerospace and defense field for 14 years.
I even worked on the Stealth Bomber when it was a Top Secret Project. I have
worked with all types of exotic metals...some, I cannot even mention....but
I can not identify this piece. It is a odd shape (not part of a tool or
piece of equipment) very shiny cobalt colored and has a slick glass like
appearance; about 1 1/2 inches with no flat sides or ends semi cone
shaped...honestly, it does not look like anything I have ever
seen from this world. This tiny piece is so magnetized that it can pick up a full sized
music stand. It is hard and as slick as glass. What could it possibly be?
I would start with trying to be a bit more quantitative - "extremely
dense" and "extremely magnetic" are not sufficient. Since you appear
to have some fairly technical background, I'm dispensing with some of
the basics. There are lots of rare-earth ceramic magnets out these
days. They are remarkably strong compared with what was available even
just a few years ago. You can disperse magnetic powders in a lot of
different materials too, even blue glass. I would start by measuring
the field strength with a gauss meter and determine if it is within
normal ranges for a rare earth magnet. Specs are published online in
many places. You can also measure its bulk density and compare to
known materials. If it falls outside the ranges of known materials,
you have one set of possibilities, and if it is inside the range, then
If you have access to the tools, you could XPS it to get an atomic
composition. You can cleave it to get internal readings. There are a
ton of qualitative analytical tests (chemical tests too) to identify
Or, just take it to a nearby materials science department and see if a
kind professor can help you. They might look at it and identify it by
Hope this helps,
Where did you find it?
Could it possibly be cobalt sea glass that people find washed up on beaches?
from this URL:
Sea glass, also known as beach glass or mermaid's tears, is nature's answer
to bottles, china and pottery carelessly thrown into the sea many years ago.
The glass is tumbled on the ocean floor, smoothed by the waves and sand
until it washes up on shore, waiting to be found by a lucky passerby.
I do not know how magnetism fits in.
If this is a significant puzzle for you maybe you can find someone to do
spectroscopic work for you.
Here is one possible service for you:
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Update: June 2012