Tuesday, October 4


we all know antibiotics was discovered by pure accident. another beautiful accident is the 'buckyball'. for those of you who are as inapt as me in chemistry, buckyballs is a nickname for a particular allotrope of carbon. if that still doesn't ring a bell, think of diamonds. diamond is an allotrope of carbon, so is the carbon in your body and in your pencil lead. so when i say that the buckyball is an allotrope of carbon, it means its essentially the same thing as diamond and soot, ash, etc, they are made up of carbon but have different forms due to the difference in molecular structure.

buckyballs are recent discoveries. in 1985, scientists fired laser at carbon and found carbon molecules arranged in beautiful spheres like soccer balls and hence the nickname.

so what is the big deal you might ask. just another random cute thing isn't it?

yes and no.

much of the buckyball is still unknown and hence scientists haven't really figure out how to use the buckyball. but the fact that a new allotrope of carbon has been discovered is a big deal. why? think about it. as i've said earlier, carbon, be it diamonds or pencil lead are all essentially, carbon. their difference lies in the structure of the molecules. so with a totally new structure found in the buckyballs, yes, it means a whole new world of uses for it. its such a big deal that this accidental discovery caused the scientists, professors Kroto, Curl, and Smalley to be awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

it is said that the buckyball have uses in the semiconductor industry. but whatever it is, such symmetry and such order found in pure accident is truly a sight to behold!!


Anonymous deb said...

ahaha it is such a cute name for a nobel prize winning discovery!

Tue Nov 29, 10:15:00 PM  
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