Science Week: Chemical Architecture

What do Spaceship Earth and a 60-carbon chemical structure have in common?

A man named Buckminster Fuller.

Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller was an American author, inventor and architect.  Among his many achievements, he redesigned an popularized the geodesic dome, a spherical structure with a lattice shell.  These domes form local triangular elements that spread out architectural stresses over the entire shape.

This architecture can be seen in structures like the Montreal Biosphere and at Disney’s Epcot.

So where’s the science in this?

Well, it turns out that there is actually a naturally-occurring molecule with a spherical structure closely resembling the architecture of these geodesic domes – Aptly named the buckminsterfullerene, or “buckyball” or short!

The buckminsterfullerene was first synthesized by a group scientists at Rice University in 1985, three of whom went on to receive the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work on fullerenes.

I have actually paid homage to the buckyball in my own way by stitching embroidery art in its likeness:

I actually once received a custom order for a sewn buckyball by a student at Rice University in her school colors – So cool, right?  I love it when art and science mingle!

Ever since I learned what the heck they were, I have been fascinated by giant, complex molecular structures.  I suppose it’s a good fit that I’ll be researching black carbon for the next few years …

Are you inspired by architecture?  What structural elements speak to you?

Want to join in on the geeky goodness?  Click here to find out how!



  1. Pingback: Embroidery Round-up - Gracie Layne Gifts

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