Saturday, September 30, 2006

Now they just have to find the chicken

This is an extremely clever molecule. Permit me to introduce ... the bucky-egg! Now you may say, yeah, an egg-shaped fullerene, big deal-- but this egg-shape is CHEATING! It isn't supposed to have adjacent touching pentagons, and it does. (This reminds me of one of my favorite biology jokes--under the most carefully controlled experimental conditions, the organism will do whatever it damn well pleases.) In my years of fullerene research, I did come across some pretty nifty variants, such as the bucky-onion (which can be "roasted" to remove layers) and carbon-nitride nanotubes, but I think this is the funniest. Moreover, the strange shape is caused by making the carbon fullerene "cage" wrap around an odd-shaped molecule of some terbium compound.

Fun trivia facts nobody else cares about:
- the chemical symbol to indicate something is stuffed inside a fullerene cage is @. See, there's something inside the circle! (Sigh. Chemist humor.) E.g. Au@C80.
- Terbium, erbium, yttrium, and ytterbium were all discovered in a sample of ore from the mining town of Ytterby in Sweden. At first they thought they only had one new element, and politely named it after the town. When they discovered three more new elements, somebody had a massive failure of imagination and scientists to this day wish they had tried harder.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

But I laughed.

Balch is a fun guy. Reminds one of Santa Claus. , except with brown hair. My first quarter of inorganic chem was with him(CHEM 110a).

Marilyn's been the crystallographer at UCD for at least a decade, and probably longer. Those are her machines and woe be onto he who mucks them up.(I don't think they ever found the body of the last person to do so.)

3:08 AM, October 01, 2006  

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