Block of the Week: Stone
Now we’ve hit rock bottom!
How have we got this far through the Block of the Week series and not mentioned stone? This grey stalwart is one of the original Minecraft blocks, added alongside dirt and wood planks on 16 May 2009, while the game was in its very earliest stages of development. In fact, it’s almost as old as the name “Minecraft” itself – before that date, the game was simply known as “Cave Game”, while afterwards it became “Minecraft: Order of the Stone”.
Stone is probably the most common naturally-generated block in the game, because it’s pivotal to the way a world is created. The seed that you type into the world creation screen (or is generated randomly if you type nothing in) is used to procedurally generate a basic topographical map of chunks out of stone, which are then covered with grass and trees, water, structures, and filled with ores and caves as you travel around.
As everyone who’s played five minutes of Minecraft knows, breaking stone with a pickaxe will get you cobblestone. You’ll need to use a silk-touch-enchanted pick if you want it to drop stone. But far easier than that is just cooking the cobblestone you get in a furnace – which turns it back into its original form again (which is sometimes called “smooth stone”).
If for some reason you need a lot of stone, then you could create a deep quarry, or build a stone generator by flowing lava into water from above. But in either case, keep an eye out for silverfish – they’re able to infiltrate stone blocks, turning them into monster eggs which spawn their own silverfish when broken that immediately attack the player.
Real-world stone is just as common as it is in Minecraft – it comprises almost the entirety of the outermost layer of the Earth. Our tectonic plates are made of stone, and if you dig anywhere on the surface of the planet for long enough, you’ll eventually hit – you guessed it – stone.
Stone is made of minerals, and different combinations of those minerals create different kinds of stone. One of the most common minerals found in stone is silica – made of silicon and oxygen – which makes up about three quarters of the Earth’s crust. Others include calcite, quartz, or feldspar. Some are pretty valuable, making them worth mining for profit.
Humans have used stone for at least 2.5 million years – hence the “stone age”. The techniques developed during this time - like carving tools out of flint - are some of the oldest continually used technologies in the world. So next time you make yourself a stone axe or pick in Minecraft, just remember – you’re continuing a tradition that’s millions of years old.