Mind & Matter


Nobel Prize Awarded to Discoverer of Quasicrystals

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Quasicrystals of an alloy of aluminum, copper, and iron. Photo: McGraw-Hill.


The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded on Oct. 5 to Dan Shechtman at the Israel Institute of Technology for his discovery of quasicrystals—atomic structures that resemble aperiodic mosaics found in Islamic architecture. The honor commemorates not only intriguing science, but also the struggle to prove it. Shechtman fought bitterly since 1982 against an establishment that believed that atoms were packed in repeating symmetrical patterns. The crystals he discovered were arranged in regular patterns that did not repeat, but in his effort to convince his colleagues, Shechtman was ostracized. According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Shechtman’s discovery “eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter.” 




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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.