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14 Things You Didn't Know a Mormon Invented


9. ARTIFICIAL DIAMONDS

Though you won’t find these crystals in a jewelry store, synthetic diamonds have found an invaluable use in industry. And the man responsible for their invention? Latter-day Saint Howard Tracy Hall.

Hall, who was born in Ogden, Utah, looked up to Thomas Edison and dreamed of working at General Electric—a company closely associated with Edison. Hall received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Utah before he fulfilled his dream by starting work in a research laboratory for General Electric.

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Illustration by James Yang

He spent many hours researching and experimenting in an attempt to recreate the natural diamond-making process. He finally did so in 1954, creating the first commercial synthetic diamonds, which measured only thousandths of an inch. This scientific breakthrough earned Hall the title of the “Father of the Synthetic Diamond.” He later took a research job at BYU before developing and patenting a more efficient tetrahedral press and founding the industrial diamond making company MegaDiamond. Synthetic diamonds are used today to cut other diamonds, grind and shape dozens of different tools, drill for oil, and prepare granite kitchen countertop slabs among other things.

Hall and his wife, Ida-Rose, were faithful members of the Church their entire lives. Hall served as a bishop for several years, and he and his wife served a mission together in South Africa from 1982 to 1983.

10. LASERS IN SURGERY

Provo-born John Aldous Dixon earned his bachelor’s degree in 1944 and became a Doctor of Medicine in 1947 at the University of Utah. A pioneer in the medical field, Dixon was Ogden’s first board-certified gastrointestinal surgeon and did a lot of research on using lasers in surgery. He wrote a book about his research and discoveries called Surgical Applications of Lasers, which was published in 1983. By using a hair-thin quartz tube and a viewing device, Dixon was the first to use a laser to successfully treat ulcers and tumors, particularly in the gastrointestinal area.

Today, lasers are used in the majority of specialty surgeries as a way to stop bleeding.

Dixon served as a bishop, high councilor, and later as a leadership missionary with his wife, Karma.