Friday, February 17, 2012

On quasi-periodic crystals and self-confidence


Last week I had an opportunity to learn about the Quasi-periodic crystals. I am sure that like most of you, these words do not mean much, even if you check its definition on Wikipedia. It was the same for me, till last Friday. On that day I was at the Maison de la Chimie in Paris, where I heard the explanation by a person who discovered quasi-crystals – Professor Dan Shechtman from Technion. Even this complicated question could be explained I very simple terms, even I could understand it (Ihope!) But it took to professor Shectman about 10 years to convince the academic community that his discovery was real. And 20 more years to get the Nobel Prize in November 2011…

Professor Shechtman at the Maison de la Chimie

What he discovered in 1982 was that the not all crystals are periodic, meaning that their atoms are ordered in a periodic structure. The community of crystallographers refused to accept his finding that would hatter the scientific “truth” that was hold for 70 years. The explanations of Prof. Shectman were crystal clear, not quasi-clear. However, the most prominent experts preferred for many years to reject his discovery, blaming him for quasi-science. While he was trying for years explain that his discovery was made possible thanks to the new tool he used in his work: electro-magnetic microscope instead of X-rays.

At the end of his lecture at Maison de la Chimie, he shared his own conclusion about the 5 most important things that made possible his discovery: electro-magnetic microscope, professionalism, tenacity, self-confidence and courage.

And I just thought to myself that with the exception of microscope, the four other elements are required in any endeavor…

Needless to say, I was proud to have this picture...

And one last word about Technion, who celebrates 100 years since its establishment in 1912 – Shectman’s Nobel Prize was third for Technion, in the last 7 year. In Technion, they definitely may have something to teach us about tenacity, professionalism and self-confidence!

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