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News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

The Buckyball: An Excruciatingly Researched Report

•, Craig Segawa
Called buckminsterfullerene, or the buckyball, for short, this newly-discovered
molecule has scientists the world over scrambling to find new and unusual uses
for this unique molecular oddity.

      Buckminsterfullerene may sound a bit unscientific as a name, but it is
the perfect tribute to the designer of the geodesic dome, R. Buckminster
Fuller. Fuller pioneered architecture by creating such domes, known for their
lightness, strength, and characteristic shape. Epcot Center in Walt Disney
World, Florida, is arguably the most notable geodesic dome structure.

      The buckyball is a new form of carbon, previously undiscovered until the
early 1980's. Before this exhilarating discovery, there were only two known
forms of "pure" carbon to be found on Earth. The first is graphite, the
slippery, soft, metallic-grey material used in pencils. Contrasted radically
to graphite is the second form of pure carbon: diamond, practically the
antithesis of graphite, it's an incredibly rigid crystal. Yet both graphite
and diamond are made up of pure carbon. Also made with pure carbon is the
buckyball, consisting of a practically inconceivable 60 carbon atoms, all
linked together to form a hollow, spherical ball.

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