So rumored honorees Bob Dylan and Philip Roth were shut out of the Nobel Prize for Literature this year. “Zol zein mit mazel,” as the Yiddish equivalent of “Don’t worry, be happy” goes. The newly-announced crop of recipients by the Nobel Committee includes an indisputably worthy and artistically inspiring awardee in the field of Chemistry, the Tel Aviv-born Israeli scientist Dan Shechtman.
Shechtman wasted no time in complaining on Israeli radio about nationwide cuts in science education. As a longtime mainstay of Haifa’s Technion, The Israel Institute of Technology, who spends four months out of every year at Iowa State University, Ames, Shechtman knows whereof he speaks. In 1982, while at U.S. National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., he discovered a field of quasiperiodic crystals, which quickly became known as quasicrystals, a term which Shechtman dislikes because it implies that the crystals in question are not really crystals. On the contrary, they are crystals which exist in forms previously thought impossible, since their patterns are regular and obey the rules of mathematics, but never recur. As the Nobel Committee put it:
In quasicrystals, we find the fascinating mosaics of the Arabic world reproduced at the level of atoms: regular patterns that never repeat themselves.
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