"It's a Mineral, I Think"
Said Alice in Lewis Carroll's Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland:
"Very true", said the Duchess: "flamingos and mustard both bite. And the moral of that is – 'Birds of a feather flock together.'"
"Only mustard isn’t a bird", Alice remarked.
"Right as usual, said the Duchess: "what a clear way you have of putting things!"
"It’s a mineral, I think," said Alice.
"Of course it is" said the Duchess, who seemed ready to agree to everything Alice said: "there’s a large mustard-mine near here. And the moral of that is – 'The more there is of mine, the less there is of yours!'"
"Oh, I know!" exclaimed Alice, who had not attended to this last remark, "it’s a vegetable. It doesn’t look like one, but it is".
Every semester students in the Physical Geology laboratory learn how to apply the scientific method to identify minerals. They learn how mineral properties are related to the internal atomic structure, and then use tests and characteristic mineral properties such as specific gravity, hardness, streak, cleavage, fracture, and luster to identify them with the aid of mineral identification keys.
‘Is this a metallic luster?’ These students in Dr. Vollmer's laboratory enjoy learning the variations in luster among mineral species.
‘If it scratches glass and has two cleavages at right angles, it must be...’ Here students use a mineral identification key to narrow down the possibilities. Definitely not mustard.