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The Science of Minecraft (Part 2): Metal and Minerals

Think video games aren't educational? Think again! Everyday Einstein looks at the science and technology behind mining for metal via a 3D video game called Minecraft. - See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/science/the-science-of-minecraft-part-1-smelting-ore#sthash.6TJrt1lh.dpuf
Think video games aren't educational? Think again! Everyday Einstein looks at the science and technology behind mining for metal via a 3D video game called Minecraft. - See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/science/the-science-of-minecraft-part-1-smelting-ore#sthash.6TJrt1lh.dpuf

Think video games aren't educational? Think again! In Part 2 of this series, Everyday Einstein looks at the relationship between your pickaxe and the type of ore you can mine in the popular 3D video game, Minecraft.

Think video games aren't educational? Think again! Everyday Einstein looks at the science and technology behind mining for metal via a 3D video game called Minecraft. - See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/science/the-science-of-minecraft-part-1-smelting-ore#sthash.6TJrt1lh.dpuf
Think video games aren't educational? Think again! Everyday Einstein looks at the science and technology behind mining for metal via a 3D video game called Minecraft. - See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/science/the-science-of-minecraft-part-1-smelting-ore#sthash.6TJrt1lh.dpufThink video games aren't educational? Think again! Everyday Einstein looks at the science and technology behind mining for metal via a 3D video game called Minecraft.
Think video games aren't educational? Think again! Everyday Einstein looks at the science and technology behind mining for metal via a 3D video game called Minecraft. - See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/science/the-science-of-minecraft-part-1-smelting-ore#sthash.6TJrt1lh.dpuf
By
Lee Falin, PhD
October 19, 2013
Episode #073

Page 1 of 2

obsidianAs I mentioned in Part 1 of my Science of Minecraft series, one of the goals of the popular game called Minecraft is to mine for the raw materials you need in order to create cool stuff. If you dig deep enough, you’re able to find metal ores that you can smelt in a forge in order to make things out of metal. 

To mine the ore, you use a traditional miner’s pickaxe. While it sounds simple enough, there’s a bit of a complication in that the type of ore you’re able to mine depends upon the material your pickaxe is made of. Let’s take a look at some of the science behind that relationship.

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Diamonds Are a Miner’s Best Frends

When you first start out in Minecraft, the only material available to you for building tools is wood. Fortunately, you’re able to cut down trees and shape the logs into wooden tools with your bare hands, something I don’t advise you try at home. 

With a wooden pickaxe in hand, you’re able to mine coal and stone. Once you have enough stone, you can start mining faster, because the stone pickaxe is more durable and cuts through stone blocks more quickly than wood. Stone pickaxes also allow you to harvest iron ore. 

We talked about turning iron ore into iron metal previously, but once you have iron metal, you can create an iron pickaxe that allows you to harvest the other underground materials, such as gold, lapis lazuli, and diamond.

While you can create a gold pickaxe, you can’t use it to mine anything other than stone or coal, making it useful only for adding some bling to your tool collection. Diamond pickaxes on the other hand can be used to mine anything, even the hardest substance in the game: obsidian.

So in Minecraft, wood is weaker than stone (which is about equal in strength to gold) next comes iron, obsidian, and finally diamond. Let’s see how that compares to the real world.

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