ScienceDaily (July 23, 2010) — Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered carbon molecules, known as “buckyballs,” in space for the first time. Buckyballs are soccer-ball-shaped molecules that were first observed in a laboratory 25 years ago.

They are named for their resemblance to architect Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, which have interlocking circles on the surface of a partial sphere. Buckyballs were thought to float around in space, but had escaped detection until now.

“We found what are now the largest molecules known to exist in space,” said astronomer Jan Cami of the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif. “We are particularly excited because they have unique properties that make them important players for all sorts of physical and chemical processes going on in space.” Cami has authored a paper about the discovery that appears online in the journal Science.


Ah yes, Buckyballs.  Sixty carbon atoms arranged in hexagons and pentagons- a shape that is very resistant to destruction.  They’re very stable, surviving high energy, harsh radiation and even cosmic rays hitting them.  Carbon, the basis of animal and plant life here on earth, apparently is floating around this universe in massive quantities, awaiting its gravitational attraction with some ‘heavenly’ object, some other earth-like surface.

Can there be any doubt about how and why carbon and life are tied so intricately together?  As Carl Sagan often said, “We truly are star-stuff!” And, correspondingly, so much for that Genesis mythology.


2 thoughts on “Buckyballs

  1. Hello Muddy,
    I returned late last night and all went well. I am “Grand Puppy” doggy sitting the two dogs that my daughter and son-in-law have while they go to the Virgin Islands this week.

    What a great posting and falls right in my own passions. The Bucky Balls (Buckminster Fullerine or Carbon 60 molecules) and Bucky Nanotubes are a major part of Nano Technology. The high carbon content is great for making any construction more durable and also does well for conducting electricity is these proposes. The Bucky “Carbon Nanotubes” (CNT) are made by just split the ball in half and you add a cylindrical tube between each end and you can make very long fiber type strands that can be woven into a cloth. We are talking about circuits so small that cell phones would be thinner than credit cards, or ultra lightweight but yet flexible high definition flat panel video displays, and super strong materials. Imagine a suit of cloths that could display your grandchildren as you walked down the street. Not only hear but projected from your clothes could be your favorite music video. Yes you and Mick Jagger going out on a date with your girlfriend or wife with the song, “Under My Thumb,” playing from your suit jacket…..and it would last forever!!! Or for the younger mid-thirty generation, “Me So Horny!” or even younger yet,“Spank That Skanky Ho!” Ahhh memories of generations greatest love songs.

    Well all of this could be feasible because of the Bucky Balls or Bucky Nanotubes.

  2. Engineer- glad you survived the wedding. They are stressful, elegant and costly, all rolled into one buckyball!

    Thanks for the added info on BBs. Fuller was quite the interesting and brilliant man. wouldn’t it have been interesting to be in his company and listen to his ideas on science and architecture!

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