Scientists Discover 'Kryptonite' in Serbian Mine

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Published April 24, 2007

| FoxNews.com

Scientists have discovered a new mineral that matches the composition of kryptonite, the mythical rock that could sap Superman's strength in comic books.

The rock — named jadarite — was discovered in a mine in Jadar, Serbia, by the Rio Tinto company and identified by London's Natural History Museum.

Though the white rock didn't resemble anything known to real-life man, it did match the one substance known to destroy Superman's power.

"The new mineral does not contain fluorine and is white rather than green, but in all other respects the chemistry matches that for the rock containing kryptonite," said Chris Stanley, the mineralogist who identified the jadarite.

The mineral is sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide, which "probably won't do Superman or us any harm whatsoever," said Mike Rumsey, a mineral curator for the museum.

Click here to read more about the chemical makeup of jadarite.

The scientists discovered it matched the mythical Superman substance when they entered jadarite's chemistry on Google.

"The first page that came back from Google was a Wikipedia page on kryptonite," Rumsey said.

"We went to check it out and found that in the 'Superman Returns' movie of 2006, Lex Luthor steals a rock fragment from a museum and it zooms in on the fragment and it lists the chemistry of the mineral and that happens to be exactly the same — or almost exactly the same — as what we had found," Rumsey said.

The discovery has those at DC Comics smiling.

"The universe is full of mysteries, and some have been foreshadowed by comics," said Paul Levitz, DC Comics President and Publisher. "We look forward to scientists figuring this one out."

A DC Comics spokesman told FOXNews.com that the mythical formula for kryptonite was likely devised by a writer for the film.

In the Superman comics, kryptonite came from the shattered remains of Superman's home planet, Krypton. It is found in a common green form and in variations of red, blue, white and gold. Later permutations also followed.

Around 30 to 40 new mineral species are discovered each year, Rumsey said.

Click here to watch a video from the museum on this real-life 'kryptonite.'

This non-radioactive mineral was discovered during Rio Tinto's exploration of an industrial mineral field in southern Serbia. According to a company report, low-grade borate was found in the Jadar mine.

Scientists could not name the new mineral kryptonite, as it doesn't contain the element krypton. It will officially be dubbed jadarite when its discovery is detailed in the European Journal of Mineralogy later this year.

And Lex Luthor, take note. Jadarite could have commercial uses. Its structure contains lithium and borate, which can be used in batteries and cleaning products.

The mineral will go on display briefly on April 25 and May 13 at the London museum.

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