The quasicrystals discovery as a resonance of the non-Euclidean geometry revolution: historical and philosophical perspective Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • In this paper, we review the history of quasicrystals from their sensational discovery in 1982, initially “forbidden” by the rules of classical crystallography, to 2011 when Dan Shechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. We then discuss the discovery of quasicrystals in philosophical terms of anomalies behavior that led to a paradigm shift as offered by philosopher and historian of science Thomas Kuhn in ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’. This discovery, which found expression in the redefinition of the concept crystal from being periodically arranged to producing sharp peaks in the Bragg diffraction pattern, is analyzed according to the Kuhn Cycle. We relate the quasicrystal revolution to the non-Euclidean geometry revolution and argues that since “great minds think alike” there is a diffusion of ideas between scientific revolutions, or a resonance between different disciplines at different times. The story behind quasicrystals is an excellent example of a paradigm shift, demonstrating the nature of scientific discoveries and breakthroughs.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014