This just in, from SWEDEN:
Hexagons have won this year's Nobel Prize in Physics. More specifically, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov won the prize for their work with hexagons.
In summary, for those who do not follow such things (and I have noticed that "graphene" is among the top keywords bringing people to this site, so it is quite possible you do follow such things): Graphene was "discovered," or if you will isolated, by Geim and Novoselov in 2004, by peeling off layers of graphite with scotch tape. It is essentially an indefinitely large aromatic molecule, and the flat, two-dimensional form of the buckyball or the buckytube. For a variety of reasons I won't get into here, it has numerous potential applications in electronics and nanotechnology, and is quite interesting all around.
It had never actually occurred to me prior to 2004 that graphene needed to be "discovered." I had always been taught that graphite, as a major allotrope of carbon, consisted of one-atom-thick sheets of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice, and that this had been known for quite a while (since at least the advent of X-ray crystallography). Thus it really shouldn't have been too much of a conceptual leap to assume that, in fact, such sheets existed (though apparently the prevailing view was that the sheets would "roll up" when isolated). I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that it took until 2004 to actually discover this. Particularly with all the research that's gone on with fullerenes since the '80s, you'd think somebody, somewhere, would've taken the time to actually isolate a sheet of graphite. Apparently it is somewhat difficult, but crap I have scotch tape and pencils lying around, by all rights that Nobel could've been mine.
At any rate, in the event it fell to these gentlemen and their colleagues to actually isolate graphene, so good for them. Hexnet and the entire hexagonal community congratulates them on their hexagonal accomplishment, and for bringing this important hexagonal material into the focus of the wider scientific community.
There has of course been talk of a graphene Nobel for some time now, but I myself am somewhat shocked that it came so quickly, since the science Nobels are typically several decades behind the times. (Which is particularly unfortunate of course in light of the policy of not awarding them posthumously—many potential recipients simply die before the Swedes deign to acknowledge them.) Anyway, the guy who invented in vitro fertilization just won yesterday, and that was over thirty years ago, so the fact they went from discovery in 2004 to winning in 2010 is, I think, fairly impressive. I can only assume that, at least intuitively, the KVA understands graphene to be a harbinger of the new hexagonal era that is dawning, and thought it prudent to get ahead of the curve. Or ahead of the sixty degree angle as the case may be.
I don't have that much more to say about this at the moment, having already written a bit on graphene over the summer, and feeling myself wholly unqualified to speculate on its potential applications beyond what I read in the media, but it certainly seemed at least worth mentioning here. I also feel I have been perhaps repeating myself a bit too often of late, for little reason, what with my vague talk of the "coming hexagonal age" and all (more on that later). So, in closing, here is a tasteful selection of articles pertaining to graphene Nobel that may be of interest:
- The Nobel Prize in Physics 2010 - KVA (official press release)
- Great, the physics Nobel prize for graphene! Now don't overhype it... - All that matters
- Materials breakthrough wins Nobel - BBC News
- Why Graphene Won Scientists the Nobel Prize - Wired.com