A bizarre crystal-like mineral recently found in a meteorite that crashed to Earth perhaps 15,000 years ago adds more support for the idea that the fragile structure can survive in nature. But how it formed at the beginnings of the solar system is still a mystery.
The newfound mineral is called a "quasicrystal" because it resembles a crystal, but the atoms are not arranged as regularly as they are in real crystals. The quasicrystal hitched a ride to Earth on a meteorite that zipped from space through Earth's atmosphere and crashed to the ground. That process is generally a violent one that heats up the insides of rocks, making the delicate quasicrystal's survival a surprise.