Best of 1991: Science


They are the best thing to happen to pure carbon since the diamond: 60-atom molecules that are neither pyramid shape (like diamonds) nor hexagonal (like graphite) but spherical, like soccer balls. Captured for the first time in 1991 in computer-generated "snapshots" (seen here with cesium-based handles -- the rabbit ears on top), these namesakes of Buckminster Fuller might someday be fashioned into tiny ball bearings, featherweight batteries or even superconducting wires that are just one molecule thick.

2. PCR

The polymerase chain reaction, a deceptively simple process with an ungainly name, may turn out to be the most important...