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Symmetry and Repetition Uncoupled

Writing for Nautilus, Patchen Barss tells how Roger Penrose and Daniel Shechtman changed our basic understanding of nature's design by revealing how infinite variation could emerge within a highly ordered environment.

Penrose created a set of tiles that could cover an infinite plane in a pattern that never repeats, while Shechtman discovered an aluminum-manganese alloy in which the atoms were arranged not in any of the standard crystallographic symmetries, but in Penrose's very pentagons, rhombi, kites, and darts.

Barss concludes:

In the past 40 years, five-axis symmetry has gone from impractical to valuable, from unnatural to perfectly natural, from forbidden to mainstream. It’s a transformation for which we can thank two scientists who pushed past conventional wisdom to uncover a remarkable new form of infinite variation in nature.

Read the piece.

Start Date: 
Thursday, May 22, 2014

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