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Australian Government clears up geological myths spread by Minecraft: “Gold is not useful for pickaxes or armour”

Minecraft

Minecraft has turned a generation into budding geologists, with vested interests in what goes on beneath their feet: the makeup of strata and the location of lava.

It’s also responsible for a few misconceptions, however – which the Australian Government’s Geoscience body have happily taken the time to put right.

“Putting cobblestone into a furnace will not create stone,” point out the organisation. “It would, in fact, achieve nothing but a very warm rock.”

Geoscience Australia’s primary job is to provide information about our planet to the country’s government and industry. But they have an educational role, too – and their classroom resources now include a poster that debunks Minecraft’s portrayal of real materials beneath the Earth.

Diamonds, we learn, are used in jewellery and tools like saw blades and drill bits, but not armour. Nor is gold, which is “nearly as soft as fingernails, and so not useful for pickaxes [or] as durable as leather”.

Cobblestones do not, it turns out, form from water and flowing lava, but rather are gathered from river beds. And bedrock is “not ‘at the bottom’ of anything in particular”.

“It simply lies below the loose weathered material on the surface,” correct the government. “Bedrock can be many different types of rock that extend for kilometres down into the crust. [It] can be dug into but TNT is not essential for this.”

Obsidian, the volcanic glass, is not resistant to TNT – but is otherwise precisely as cool and powerful as Notch lead us to believe.

It’s formed when magma is cooled and solidified very quickly, and is “even better than flint for making axe and arrow heads”.

“Some surgeons today use obsidian for scalpel blades,” note Geoscience Australia.

Here’s the full Minecraft poster. Did you learn anything new today?

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