Buckyball 25th Anniversary Remembered in Google Doodle: What is a Bucky Ball? – Google Doodles are really cool and fun. Today, September 4, 2010, another Google Doodle is being flashed in Google’s homepage.
You may not notice it since the whole Google logo is not altered but when you go through the details, you will notice that only one letter in the word Google, particularly the second “O” represents a bucky ball that you can spin and rotate using your computer’s mouse.
So what is a bucky ball? Bucky balls belong to the class of fullerenes, a molecule composed entirely of carbon which can be in different forms – hollow sphere, ellipsoid, or tube. Among these forms, the spherical type is referred as a bucky ball.
Buckyballs are named after Buckminster Fuller, who popularized geodesic dome which has geometric similarities to buckyball. So what’s the significance of buckyballs? With the discovery of buckyballs and fullerenes in general, the number of known carbon allotropes expanded, which until recently are limited to graphite, diamond, and amorphous carbon such as soot and charcoal.
Buckyballs have been the subject of intense research of scientists and chemists, both for their unique chemistry and for their technological applications, especially in materials science, electronics, and nanotechnology. Buckyballs are one of the tools used in nanotechnology especially in the field of medicine. With their unique properties, doctors use them in gene therapy to send genes into human cells.
In space, astronomers first discovered about buckyballs in NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. “We found what are now the largest molecules known to exist in space,” said astronomer Jan Cami of the University of Western Ontario, Canada. The Cami team unexpectedly found these carbon balls in a planetary nebula named Tc 1.
Below is an example video from Getbuckyballs.com which describes buckyballs as an amazing desk toys you can’t put down: