EDITION: June - August 2017

The Power of Crystals

By Jinny Throup
It’s often a hotly debated topic: do crystals contain special healing powers, or is all the “evidence” of such merely pseudoscience and nothing more than examples of the good old-fashioned placebo effect? IbiCASA decided to investigate… and we discovered some pretty fascinating stuff.

What exactly are crystals?

So, first things first. What exactly are crystals? The first image the mind conjures is likely to be sparkling amethyst or rose quartz displayed in an incense-scented new age shop. But, in fact, a crystal is the scientific name for any solid with a regular, repeating arrangement of atoms and molecules which, whilst fixed in place, can vibrate slightly. So what separates a lump of iron from a crystal? Here is where it gets interesting. In most naturally occurring minerals (like iron) the individual cells are symmetrical, but in what we commonly call crystals (like quartz), they are not. This unique characteristic of crystals is all down to something called piezoelectricity.

Crystals and Piezoelectricity

Piezoelectricity is, simply put, the existence of voltage – an electrical potential – in a crystal when it is subjected to mechanical stress by being squeezed. This was discovered in 1880 by the brothers Pierre and Paul-Jacques Curie. They were able to demonstrate that if certain crystals (such as quartz, tourmaline, topaz, and Rochelle salt) were squeezed, then a current of electricity would flow through them. In effect, each crystal becomes like a tiny battery, with a positive charge on one face and a negative charge on the opposite. Under pressure the two faces connect together to make a circuit, and electric current flows between them.

The Curie brothers also found that crystals have an additional compatible quality – if you pass electricity from an outside source through a crystal it vibrates back and forth. They do this because when you send voltage across a piezoelectric crystal the atoms inside it move to re-balance themselves and the crystal changes shape slightly. The consequences of these discoveries were nothingshort of monumental, and it is staggering to realise how important crystals are to the way we live today. Their development began with the use of quartz in watches and clocks, as it helps to stabilise and regulate the flow of energy, thus enabling regular time to be kept. Discovery of the utility of cryst