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Math Science

A Quasi-Quasicrystal 121

Posted by kdawson
from the fractional-quasiness dept.
An anonymous reader sends along a link to a mindbending article in Science News on quasicrystals — odd materials with a structure partway between order and disorder. Now researchers have found something even odder: a material that's partway between a quasicrystal and a regular crystal. The order in the new structure is provided by the Fibonacci sequence. It was constructed with plastic beads and laser beams, so no new materials science inventions are on the horizon. "'We are absolutely sure that this structure should have properties that are not usual,' Mikhael says, because materials with odd structures almost always do. Now they just have to figure out what those properties are."
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A Quasi-Quasicrystal

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  • by haltenfrauden27 (1338125) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:50AM (#24476943) Homepage

    "'We are absolutely sure that this structure should have properties that are not usual,' Mikhael says, because materials with odd structures almost always do."

    Sounds like something out of a Monty Python sketch.

    Seriously, though, I'd rather hear about what interesting/new discoveries come out of this strange material than just hear about the possibility of its existence.

    • by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:09AM (#24477023)

      Seriously, though, I'd rather hear about what interesting/new discoveries come out of this strange material than just hear about the possibility of its existence.

      When that's announced people will complain that the information is pretty useless and would rather hear about practical applications found for it.
      When that's announced people will complain about why they haven't heard about this before. Others will complain about how it was on digg years ago and how slashdot is slow.

      So shut up and discuss the interesting stuff we have know now :D
      Or get high and stare at the trippy pictures :D
      Or make an off topic meme-based joke :(

    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      "Nobody expects the unusual properties!"

    • we used to just split hairs.

      Now we split crystals. And get quasicrystals. Which were supposed to be unusual.

      And now we have quasi-quasicrystals. And then they're "not usual."

      And next we can get something somewhere between a quasicrystal and a quasiquasicrystal.

      I'd rather hear about what interesting/new discoveries come out of this strange material than just hear about the possibility of its existence.

      In 10 years' time you'll be hearing about the quasiquasiquasiquasiquasiquasiquasiquasiquasicrystal, but we s

      • by tubapro12 (896596)
        The trend seems to be leading to us getting quasi-quasi-quasicrystals, which will be not unusual.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        For an example of a practical use, Teflon is a quasicrystal. I read somewhere that they tend to be slippery.

      • And next we can get something somewhere between a quasicrystal and a quasiquasicrystal.

        So if I'm building a database about materials, I ought to make the crystallynessosity field a float, instead of a boolean?

      • I've already got a quasiquasicrystal, partway between crystal and not-crystal, in my garage. See, I accidentally mixed a bunch of salt into this big tub of vaseline...
        • by Blublu (647618)
          What were you doing with a tub full of vaseline? Actually, nevermind. I don't want to know.
      • Property #1: the ability to endow a grad student with his PhD and the university with a sizable chunk of grant money.

        There. Fixed that for you...

    • by dontmakemethink (1186169) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:59AM (#24477219)

      "'We are absolutely sure that this structure should have properties that are not usual,' Mikhael says, because materials with odd structures almost always do."

      Sounds like George Dubya Bush paraphrasing Yoda.

    • by dwater (72834) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @05:13AM (#24477731)

      "We are absolutely sure that this structure should have properties that are not usual,' Mikhael says, because materials with odd structures almost always do."

      Right. What kind of logic does this guy use?

      "We are absolutely sure it should have 'something'... because ... others almost always do..."

      "We're...100%....80%....60%..." Add a few more even 'less certain' words, like "surely", "perhaps", "maybe" and the confidence in his assertion would have dropped from 100% certainty all the way to 0% certainty in a single sentence.

      I mean, hedging your bets or what? This guy should be a politician.

      • Yes, well, you see, they inductively deduced this concusion...
      • by Blitz22 (1122015)
        60% of the time, it works every time....
      • by tsa (15680)

        What's the problem? The answer to the question wether these structures have remarkable properties is definitely 'Maybe'.

      • by Bob-taro (996889)

        "We're...100%....80%....60%..." Add a few more even 'less certain' words, like "surely", "perhaps", "maybe" and the confidence in his assertion would have dropped from 100% certainty all the way to 0% certainty in a single sentence.

        I think what they're trying to say is that 60% of the time, it works every time.

        • by dwater (72834)

          > I think what they're trying to say is that 60% of the time, it works every time. ...and they're certain of that because in the past it has worked most of the time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by crovira (10242)

      No.

      But the Fibonacci sequence is fascinating.

      This material is definitely odd. (Lets hope it can be related down atomic scale.)

      The reason it makes a good insulator is the Fibonacci gaps. They make for discrete jumps like quantum jumps because there is no smooth path for electron 'energy bands' to follow.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:51AM (#24476951)

    Hey, it has worked before...

  • Remember the comic from XKCD about the spork cross breeds? This could apply to Quasy-Quasycrystals too. They could breed hybrids in proportions corresponding to every binary fraction in the whole spectrum between Crystal and Quasy-Crystal. Fear the powerful forces!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SilentBob0727 (974090)

      That was the first thing I thought of too.

      quasiquasicrystals, then quasiquasicrystalcrystals, then quasicrystalcrystalquasicrystalquasis...

      You're dealing with forces beyond your understanding....

    • by ratbag (65209)

      Any reason for the perverse spelling of quasi?

    • # from the ice age to the dole age,
        there is but one concern -
        I have just discovered:
        Some crystals are more crystalline than others,
        Some crystals are more crystalline than others
        Other crystals are intermediate in crystallinity between the first... /#

  • by moteyalpha (1228680) * on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:35AM (#24477135) Homepage Journal
    I could be a random resistance element that could be used as a random number seed. Or it could be the mythical room temperature non-conductor.
    • The secret to the Flux Capacitor perhaps?
    • by steelfood (895457)

      I could be a random resistance element that could be used as a random number seed.

      The fact that you're on /. alone disqualifies you from being used as a seed for anything.

  • Now they just have to figure out what those properties are.

    1) Does it taste like chicken?

    • by gmby (205626)

      "Or make an off topic meme-based joke"

      "1) Does it taste like chicken?"

      2) Does it run linux?

      3) Does it have a girl friend?

      4) Does it live in it's Mothers Basement?

      5) Does it Profit?

      6) Profit!

      Ops.. I think we missed a step!

    • by GroeFaZ (850443)
      Everything more or less tastes like chicken.
      • by daveime (1253762)

        And I don't think they could work out what chicken tastes like, which is why chicken tastes like everything else.

        Shut up Mouse !

  • by ulash (1266140) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:40AM (#24477159)

    Which one is it? The summary needs to make up its mind. Either it is something that occurs naturally (and TFA seems to suggest otherwise) in which case it would be "found" or it is something cooked up in a lab which would make it "constructed".

    • Indeed. If it is naturally occurring, it should be called a quasi-quasicrystal, but if it is manmade, it should be called a pseudo-quasicrystal :D
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by renoX (11677)

      Both!

      Maybe you should read TFA: it was both found and constructed, found because they didn't expect it, constructed because it's not something which occurs naturally.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Lars T. (470328)

        Both!

        Maybe you should read TFA: it was both found and constructed, found because they didn't expect it, constructed because it's not something which occurs naturally.

        Isn't the word for that "dumbfound"?

  • I have (Score:3, Funny)

    by Konster (252488) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:41AM (#24477165)

    I have isolated a compound in my lab. I call it the Politiquasicrystal. I have determined that it can bend the truth with no expenditure of energy.

    • Well, for those that didn't RTFA, I did for
      you... and no... they didn't go to a piece
      goods shop and buy a sack of necklace beads.

      FTA:
      To simplify matters, the team set out to create a quasicrystal from micron-sized plastic beads called colloidal particles.

      For those unfamiliar with colloidals, it is
      from the Greek work kolla, meaning glue as the
      first colloids were just that. Particulate size
      is such that surface area is greater than volume
      thus the particulates tend not to settle from
      gravity.

      They're pretty usefu

      • by XSpud (801834)

        For those unfamiliar with colloidals, it is from the Greek work kolla, meaning glue as the first colloids were just that. Particulate size is such that surface area is greater than volume thus the particulates tend not to settle from gravity.

        And for those unfamiliar with mathematics, the bit relating surface area to volume does not make any sense.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Exitar (809068)
      It's nothing compared to my iQuasicrystal and its Reality Distortion Field.
    • I have isolated a compound in my lab.

      So have I, but unfortunately the margin is too small to write its chemical formula in.

  • Why is there no mention of Penrose tiling in TFA?
    • by whyloginwhysubscribe (993688) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @03:14AM (#24477267)
      They don't exist anymore - they got bought out by Hawking's Bathrooms in 2004.
    • I was wondering that myself... first
      thing I thought when I saw the graphics
      was, 'hey... wasn't that my old AfterDark95
      screensaver?'
      [ http://afterdarksaver.blogspot.com/2007/11/penrose.html [blogspot.com] ]

      That and good ole satori...
      [ http://telcontar.net/DesktopPics/satori.php [telcontar.net] ]

      -AI

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by feranick (858651)
      Because it's one of the several possible tiling, and it's not exclusive. In other words, there are other tilings that fit specific type of quasicrystals. There is no reason to pick Penrose's one. What has been found in TFA, is more general. In fact the tiling in this system is very different from any other, since it is somewhat an hybrid between a conventional quasicrystal and a crystal. Why are you all so obsessed with Penrose's tiling?
      • by ozbird (127571)
        Why are you all so obsessed with Penrose's tiling?

        To quote Wikipedia:

        A Penrose tiling has many remarkable properties, most notably:

        • It is nonperiodic which means that it lacks any translational symmetry. More informally, a shifted copy will never match the original exactly.
        • Any finite region in a tiling appears infinitely many times in that tiling and, in fact, in any other tiling. This property would be trivially true of a tiling with translational symmetry but is non-trivial when applied to the non-
        • by feranick (858651)
          I like Penrose tilings as the next guy (actually even more, since I wrote my PhD dissertation about it). However it's besides the point of TFA. The fact it isn't mentioned it's simply because it's irrelevant. Science isn't about fanboysm.
      • by albyrne5 (893494)
        Don't know, but I got my bathroom done in Penrose tiling and it looks pretty cool. (Quite expensive though).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @03:23AM (#24477299)

    We'd like to study these crystals, but we require more vespene gas!

  • Name? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Quasiquasicrystal doesn't roll of the tongue...

    Quasi is roughly the same as almost, right?

    What is the latin equivalent of "Barely"?

    • by Arimus (198136)

      Quasi is 'as-if' or 'sort-of'

      Fere is 'almost' - which rolls of the tongue slightly easier...

      So think these new crystals could be called Fere quassi crystallinus (almost sort-of crystals) instead ;)

  • Not new, really. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In the 90s, I was a PhD student in theorethical physics. One of the paper I read showed a crystal with a structure based on the fibonacci sequence. Such structures were also realised in superlattices at LinkÃping University, Sweden, in a cooperation between the theoretical physics group and the thin film group. You could contact Dr. Rolf Riklund for the details, his PhD student did the study.
     

  • I realize someone is going to mod me flamebait or troll, but I just wanted to say the images remind me of the cellular automata simulations from Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science" in that they are semi-ordered but non-predictable. Neat stuff regardless.
    • by albyrne5 (893494)
      Why would you expect to be modded flamebait or troll for such a comment? I don't understand?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by oodaloop (1229816)
        Every other reference to Wolfram on /. seems to be rather derogatory. He's seen as stealing others' ideas and shamelessly self-promoting. His "A New Kind of Science", at 1200 pages, was self-published and unedited. For these reasons and others, he doesn't seem to have the highest reputation, though despite it all I found ANKOS pretty amazing.
        • Precisely which page of the 1200 pages has something that justifies the existence of the other 1199 pages?
          • by oodaloop (1229816)
            Precisely which page in any book justifies the existence of the others? If you just want to be a dick, go bother someone else.
        • by albyrne5 (893494)
          I didn't read ANKOS, but I did read "The lifebox, the seashell and the soul" and I really dig the ideas and I have put ANKOS on my to-read list for sure.
          • by oodaloop (1229816)
            I hadn't heard of that book, though I did like Rucker's Software/Realware/etc series and other books like Saucer Wisdom. I'll try to pick it up sometime. Thanks for the heads up.

            As a non-scientist, I found ANKOS mind-blowing. It was a world-changing book for me, at least the parts I could understand. It challenged everything I thought I knew about predictability, order, chaos, randomness, the search of extra-terrestrial life, and how stuff works in general. I remember having the craziest dreams for th
  • Perfection is always just out of reach.
  • "That was non- non-non non-heinous!"
  • now is this an evil... quasi-quasi crystal?
  • Quasiness is quantized, and two quasicrystals must differ in some parameter by n times a constant.

    Quasi-mechanics.

  • As mentioned in the article, a quasicrystalline arrangement basically contains symmetry elements which cannot fill space ('non-crystallographic'). In fact the only rotational symmetries that can fill space are 2-, 3-, 4- and 6-fold rotations. Again, to use the article's example, you can't tile a wall with pentagons-- the simplest shape with fivefold rotational symmetry.

    The idea of a "quasi-quasi-crystal" which approximates the forbidden symmetries of a quasicrystal quite well (e.g. almost-perfect-but-no

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