Great Balls of Carbon

It looks as though you could play soccer with it, but a newly discovered sphere may lead to novel materials, even medicines

Carbon is a kind of natural backbone: the all-important element that anchors the molecules of everything from crude oil to DNA. For the past six years, groups of scientists have been chasing down an exotic form of carbon believed to have a particularly elegant configuration: 60 atoms of carbon arranged like a miniature soccer ball. The improbably spherical molecules were dubbed buckminsterfulleren es, or simply buckyballs, because they resemble the geodesic domes designed by inventor Buckminster Fuller. Researchers knew that some sort of 60-atom carbon molecule existed, but they had trouble producing enough of the stuff to study its properties or...

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