Quasicrystals — the bridge between the living and nonliving

December 6, 2011 12:42

In December 1984, an event occurred, the consequences of which will inevitably be forced scientists to go beyond the traditional scientific disciplines. Israeli physicist Daniel Schechtman, who worked previously at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, reported receiving an alloy of aluminum and manganese with unusual properties. Alloy had a structure similar to the crystal, but those are, by definition, is not, as it has a rotational symmetry of order 5 — like a proper five-pointed star. Then it was thought that anything like this can not exist outside of nature.

The presence of symmetry of order 5 contradict the laws of crystallography, and the impossibility of its existence has been proven mathematically. Despite the admonitions of the authorities, who called the scientist to look into the books, in black and white it was shown that the substance found by him can not exist, Shechtman continued study, and was soon fired. The authorities explained that his work shames the entire research team.

Against scientists made the scientific community, led by double-winner of the Nobel Prize, declared that "imperfect crystals, but there is imperfect scientists", scientific journals refused to publish its sensational results.

Only because of the extraordinary commitment scientist succeeded in the end, to attract the professionals from around the world that scientific journals do not dare to refuse. Now, from the sensational discovery can not be wished away, as from nuisance.

Substance was found to open a new form of organization of matter, called quasicrystals (quasi — like) and is called by the name of the author, shehtmanitomi. In 2010, Russia was first discovered a natural mineral that has a quasi-crystalline structure, and the scientist was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2011. The one who called it "imperfect scientists" left the world, and not admitting their mistake.

Crystals form displays the ordered arrangement of atoms, forming the bulk lattice. Crystals grow by adding new layers of particles in a periodic manner strictly repeating unit cell of the crystal.

Explain in this way the growth of quasicrystals is impossible: they can not grow by simply repeating the primary elements (translation). They require very different, specific rules "fit." Otherwise, the formation of "holes" in one and "surplus" in other places, and the growth of the quasicrystal is terminated.

It was found that the ratio of elements of quasicrystals represent so-called golden ratio. Its basis is the irrational number = 1.6180339 … which can not be accurately calculated, much less add or multiply. But it is easy to measure, which proved builders Egyptian pyramids, which laid the golden proportion to base its unprecedented project.

Based on irrational numbers golden ratio, the growing quasicrystal structure is determined not only the "nearest neighbors." In the book, Penrose "Emperor's New Mind" says that during the growth of quasicrystals once built up whole groups of particles that seem to have agreed in advance to be in the right place. This means that the structure exists between remote interaction, which negotiates its location. There is long-range orientational order, called quasiperiodic.

Thus, during the growth of quasi-crystals there is a process of "further planning" by which arise types of symmetry forbidden for crystals.

In contrast to the non-living crystals, the world of the living relation admits the golden ratio and the Prohibited in crystallography rotational symmetry of order 5 is typical for flowers of many plants, for some viruses and marine animals. The combination of the "forbidden symmetry" of the golden ratio or ratios indicate the presence in the structure of quasicrystals, a kind of "living motive", turning them into a kind of bridge connecting the living and non-living natural world.

Dr. Sergey Belitsky of Earth Sciences

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