Impossible Crystals From Space

January 4, 2012 by staff 

Impossible Crystals From SpaceImpossible Crystals From Space, A FORM OF crystal which was thought to be impossible in nature before it was found in Russian rocks in 2009 is now believed to come from space, according to scientists.

Quasicrystals, which are made up of perfectly ordered units that never repeat themselves (above), are unlike regular crystals.

They were first discovered – under laboratory conditions – in 1982 by Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman, who was subjected to years of ridicule by fellow academics who said the crystals’ structure was impossible.

Shechtman, however, had the last laugh when he won the 2011 Nobel prize for chemistry after a team of scientists led by Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University and Luca Bindi of the University of Florence reported in 2009 finding quasicrystals in rocks from eastern Russia’s Koryak mountains.

As the New Scientist reports, Steinhardt and Bindi believed the rock might be a meteorite. But other academics, including Glenn MacPherson of the Smithsonian Institution, were sceptical.

Steinhardt, Bindi and MacPherson joined forces, and now the latter appears convinced of the quasicrystals’ extraterrestrial provenance.

In a paper submitted to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists reveal that the Russian quasicrystals show evidence of having been subjected to the impacts that create meteors in the asteroid belt and contain oxygen isotopes more similar to meteorites than rocks formed on earth.

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