The roundest, most symmetrical large molecule found so far, buckminsterfullerene, continues to astonish with one amazing property after another. Named for American architect R. Buckminster Fuller, who designed a geodesic dome with the same fundamental symmetry, [C.sub.60] is the third major form of pure carbon; graphite and diamond are the other two.
Buckyballs were discovered in 1985--the by-product of an experiment on carbon molecules in space--but it was in 1991 that buckyball science came into its own. This year scientists flocked to the buckyball court, entranced by the molecule's unusual bonding behavior, its hollow symmetry, and its amazing electronic properties. Rarely has one molecule so swiftly opened the door to a new field of science.