“10-fold symmetry???”

October 13, 2011 at 12:13 am Leave a comment

Congratulations to Dr. Dan Shechtman for being awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry for discovering quasicrystals.

Apart from the information on the Nobel Prize website, there is an excellent New York Times article about his work and how much criticism he received from other scientists, including Linus Pauling (famous for discovering the structure of the alpha helix secondary structure in proteins).  Essentially, the 10-fold symmetry refers to the pattern formed when electrons were bounced off his quasicrystal, which is unique from previous notions that crystals in all materials contained repeating patterns due to the periodicity of the lattice.

This is an excellent example of a scientist who does not back down from his/her hypothesis and trusts their experimental data and physical intuition.  There are many more examples of this type of confidence and desire to prove a physical/chemical phenomena that drives many scientists to continue working towards groundbreaking discoveries; I will post these as I run across them.

Until then, enjoy the information on quasicrystals!



Ames Laboratory, via Agence France-Presse --Getty Images

An atomic model of an Ag-Al quasicrystal.


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