Crystal Power 8/30/21

Science with Richard Bleil

Some days, you can just be more reckless than others. Today was one of those days. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just lonely and that’s making me more vulnerable, but I dropped a few hundred dollars on one of those “mystery” boxes, presumably filled with crystals.

With my luck, my “mystery box” will have a single quartz crystal in it.

The reality is that I love crystals. I always have. The colors, the way light dances in them, the shapes are just gorgeous. The angular crystals you see are usually not cut. In fact, crystals grow in very specific shapes that reflect the manner in which the atoms and ions arrange themselves at a sub-microscopic level. For example, if you look closely at sugar and salt, both look like tiny little cubes. This is because sugar molecules arrange themselves in a cubic fashion in the sub-microscopic crystal lattice. For salt, sodium chloride also arranges itself in a cubic arrangement, but in this case its alternating sodium and chloride ions at the corners of each crystal lattice cube.

I have a friend who puts crystals outside overnight during full moons to “cleanse” the crystals of energy. The concept is that crystals absorb energy and reflect it back, and this energy is beneficial to the person holding it. This is “crystal power”, and the belief is that various crystals return energies that are beneficial for different things. For example, rose quartz returns an energy that helps strengthen libido and sexual prowess (no doubt because the pink color is all romantical and stuff), and tiger’s eye returns energy useful for insight.

Like any molecule, crystals do store energy. Mathematically speaking, it’s remarkably accurate to model the atoms as being held together with springs. While you might not be able to see the motion (since the atoms are far too small to be seen with the naked eye), these vibrations are occurring throughout the crystal. They do absorb energy and do return it, often in a different form and energy than what is absorbed. For example, rose quarts probably absorbs blue and green wavelengths of light, reflecting reds. When light is absorbed, though, it has to do something. This is the law of conservation of energy, so imagine little balls (the atoms, ions or molecules in the crystal lattice) vibrating on that spring, stretching it beyond its “rest” position, and being snapped back to shorter than its rest position until it is again pushed back. Light makes those vibrations occur faster. Eventually, those vibrations will slow down again, but because of the law of conservation of energy, something has to happen when they do slow. That energy is again released, probably making the crystal glow at a frequency beyond what we can see.

Yes, if you’re thinking that there is some scientific validity behind the “crystal power” philosophy, you are absolutely correct. The average velocity of those vibrations are actually a function of temperature, but light can add to that frequency. And the light released by the crystal does not have to be the same frequency as that of the light absorbed (but neither can it be higher than the absorbed light). In other words, it can absorb blue light, and release red. In a sense, the crystals can act as an energy processor wherein it takes in energy and releases a different form.

But, there is (with my apologies to my friends who follow crystal energy) a spot where the theory of crystal power fails. Yes, holding a crystal in your hand, the crystal will indeed absorb that energy. Because attitude and mood influences the energy of our body, the energy absorbed by the crystal by our body is indeed influenced by our emotions. Where the crystal healing belief fails is in reabsorbing that energy. There is no evidence that we do reabsorb the energy released by the crystal in an amount that can be expected to have an actual influence on us, and even if we can, there is no evidence that specific frequencies of energy have specific benefits to us. For example, holding that rose quartz, it might be sending out energy, but the level of energy it’s releasing is most likely inconsequential. If, indeed, the energy released by the rose quartz is significant enough, there is no evidence that our bodies can use this specific energy to increase our libido. Yes, I bought a box of crystals, but I don’t expect to get some physical benefit from owning them. But, I am very much looking forward to having them around the house where I can enjoy seeing them.

Will I put them outside during a full moon? Yeah, I might. I don’t believe, but I accept that I could be wrong.

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