Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011

If it's Wednesday, that means it's Chemistry. 

From the Nobel Foundation:

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded to Dan Shechtman "for the discovery of quasicrystals".

Quasicrystals.  And--they are?

Something so strange that when new Laureate Shechtman first saw the structure through an electron microscope, he drew three question marks and muttered to himself  "eyn chaya kazo" (Hebrew for "there can be no such creature"). 

In this YouTube video, Shechtman explains how his ten-fold symmetry discovery broke (and broke open) the laws of matter we'd assumed were universal.  Go ahead--he's a great explainer!  And you can forgive him for smiling as he talks about being ridiculed and expelled from a research group for talking about what he'd observed. 

More information about quasicrystals here.  And tantalizing connections between Shechtman's chemistry research and principles of art (including the Golden Ratio) here.

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