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The Most Beautiful Molecule: The Discovery of the Buckyball

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The Most Beautiful Molecule: The Discovery of the Buckyball Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Most Beautiful Molecule

"The molecule, buckminsterfullerene, is beautiful physically and intellectually. Its qualities, and even some of its properties, can be appreciated instantly and intuitively by nonscientists. Its uniqueness is bound to lead to novel applications-superconductivity is the leading contender at the moment."

"The commercial potential of buckminsterfullerene has heightened the excitement and controversy in recent years, while the exact nature of the discovery process in 1985 has been the subject of a heated feud between the British and American scientists involved."-Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Ten years ago, the discovery of buckminsterfullerene, a previously unknown form of carbon, stunned the scientific community, as much for the discovery itself as for the manner in which it came about. In the words of author Hugh Aldersey-Williams, it was an example of "classic bootleg science". The work was done on the back of other, funded projects, and when time would allow. Yet its commercial implications are probably immense.

Now, with objectivity and insight, The Most Beautiful Molecule recounts the events leading up to this momentous discovery and chronicles the ongoing, often frenzied aftermath. Hugh Aldersey-Williams leads us on a thrilling expedition to the very forefront of modern chemistry research.

Houston, Texas, 1985. Two industrious chemists discover a previously unknown form of carbon and christen it buckminsterfullerene, for its striking resemblance to American architect Richard Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes. This unusual molecule-also known as the buckyball-is composed of 60 carbon atoms arranged in a hollow sphere, with hexagonal and pentagonal configurations similar to those found on a soccer ball. Its near-perfect symmetry is just one reason why scientists have since dubbed it "the most beautiful molecule."

The discovery of buckminsterfullerene-by American physicist and chemist Richard Smalley and British physical chemist Harry Kroto-rocked the scientific community. After all, generations believed graphite and diamond to be the only pure forms of carbon. How had this third form gone undetected?

In fact, the actual discovery was merely the beginning of an intense-and ongoing-quest to master this newest form of the most basic of elements. Confirmation would take five years and launch an unprecedented flood of investigation and investment. The unique physical structure of buckminsterfullerene-a "cage" into which atoms of other materials may be inserted-had huge commercial potential and inspired scientists, industrial laboratories, and corporations alike. Backed by such giants as AT&T, DuPont, Exxon, and IBM, a highly competitive search for practical applications began-and continues. Possibilities range from the creation of a revolutionary rocket fuel to nanotechnology-the construction of microscopic "molecular machines"-to developments in the fight against AIDS.

Here, then, is a fascinating, multilayered look at one of the most important scientific findings of our time. The Most Beautiful Molecule is a brain-teasing detective story, a marvelously detailed, inside look at the workings of the scientific community, and an exciting contemplation of what lies ahead. From the forefront of research in modern chemistry, author Hugh Aldersey-Williams offers, in his own words, "a celebration of the intimate world of physical science and its practitioners."

Book News Annotation:

A lively account of the bootleg science leading up to discovery of buckminsterfullerene (named after Richard Buckminster Fuller for its resemblance to his geodesic domes), a previously unknown form of carbon, and the ongoing aftermath. Explains how discovery of the molecule rocked the scientific community, and examines the race among scientists to develop its potential uses in medicine and nanotechnology (construction of microscopic machines out of molecules). For general readers.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Here, then, is a fascinating, multilayered look at one of the most important scientific findings of our time. The Most Beautiful Molecule is a brain-teasing detective story, a marvelously detailed, inside look at the workings of the scientific community, and an exciting contemplation of what lies ahead. From the forefront of research in modern chemistry, author Hugh Aldersey-Williams offers, in his own words, a celebration of the intimate world of physical science and its practitioners.

Synopsis:

Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science and Technology "Very well-written and rewarding … an excellent account of the story." —Nature Ten years ago, the discovery of buckminsterfullerene, a previously unknown form of carbon, stunned the scientific community, as much for the discovery itself as for the manner in which it came about. In the words of author Hugh Aldersey-Williams. it was an example of "classic bootleg science. The work was done on the back of other, funded projects, and when time would allow. Yet its commercial implications are probably immense." Now, in a lively account, The Most Beautiful Molecule chronicles the events leading up to this momentous discovery and the ongoing, often frenzied aftermath. Hugh Aldersey-Williams leads us on a thrilling expedition to the very forefront of modern chemistry research.

Synopsis:

The amazing discovery--almost as a side project--of a previously unknown, almost perfect form of carbon stunned the scientific community. With objectivity and insight, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MOLECULE recounts the events leading up to the discovery of the "buckyball" and explores the many new doors this scientific breakthrough can open. Illustrations.

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 292-332) and index.

About the Author

HUGH ALDERSEY-WILLIAMS graduated from Cambridge with a degree in natural sciences, majoring in chemistry. He has since written widely on both science and technology in newspapers and magazines ranging from Popular Science and New Scientist to the Independent, the Guardian, and the Daily Telegraph. He lives in London.

Table of Contents

Making Molecules.

September 1985.

The Search for the Yellow Vial.

On Symmetry and the Sexagesimal.

The Fuller View.

The Chemical Senses.

The Chemist-Stylites.

September 1990.

The Peak of Perfection.

"My Lords, What Does It Do?" The Molecular Architects.

Epilogue: Spot the Ball.

Notes and References.

Index.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780471193333
Author:
Aldersey-Williams, Hugh
Author:
Aldersey-Wil
Author:
Aldersey-Williams, Hugh
Publisher:
Wiley
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Chemistry - General
Subject:
Molecular biology
Subject:
Chemistry - Inorganic
Subject:
Buckminsterfullerene
Subject:
Brucellosis
Subject:
Brucellaceae
Subject:
Life Sciences - Biology - Molecular Biology
Subject:
Biology-Molecular
Subject:
General & Introductory Chemistry
Subject:
General & Introductor
Subject:
y Chemistry
Subject:
General Chemistry
Copyright:
Publication Date:
October 1997
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
340
Dimensions:
232 x 157 x 25 mm 18 oz

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The Most Beautiful Molecule: The Discovery of the Buckyball New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$27.00 In Stock
Product details 340 pages John Wiley & Sons - English 9780471193333 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Here, then, is a fascinating, multilayered look at one of the most important scientific findings of our time. The Most Beautiful Molecule is a brain-teasing detective story, a marvelously detailed, inside look at the workings of the scientific community, and an exciting contemplation of what lies ahead. From the forefront of research in modern chemistry, author Hugh Aldersey-Williams offers, in his own words, a celebration of the intimate world of physical science and its practitioners.
"Synopsis" by , Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science and Technology "Very well-written and rewarding … an excellent account of the story." —Nature Ten years ago, the discovery of buckminsterfullerene, a previously unknown form of carbon, stunned the scientific community, as much for the discovery itself as for the manner in which it came about. In the words of author Hugh Aldersey-Williams. it was an example of "classic bootleg science. The work was done on the back of other, funded projects, and when time would allow. Yet its commercial implications are probably immense." Now, in a lively account, The Most Beautiful Molecule chronicles the events leading up to this momentous discovery and the ongoing, often frenzied aftermath. Hugh Aldersey-Williams leads us on a thrilling expedition to the very forefront of modern chemistry research.
"Synopsis" by , The amazing discovery--almost as a side project--of a previously unknown, almost perfect form of carbon stunned the scientific community. With objectivity and insight, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MOLECULE recounts the events leading up to the discovery of the "buckyball" and explores the many new doors this scientific breakthrough can open. Illustrations.
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