Saturday, July 06, 2013

Buckyball, reprised

Within A Beautiful Theory is a Terrible Thing to Waste, Robert Holloway talks about the buckyball story and includes a reference to my book reviews in Carbon:

Actually, Baggott and Aldersey-Williams have done a fair job of describing the essential facts of the story, although Larry Ebert, one of the protagonists, has written a scathing denunciation [Carbon volume 33 no. 7 (1995) , pp. 1007-1010] of both books. The story though, is not just the facts in the books, and reading the accounts left me wanting to know how such a situation could have occurred.

For the record, LBE does not consider the reviews in Carbon in the genre of "scathing denunciation."

** Also, from LBE's May 1998 article in IPT [The Pfaff Case And Evaluating Technology ]

It's not as though it's all been silent on the commercial front as far as the fullerenes are concerned. In 1992, the US Patent Office saw more correspondence on fullerenes than on all other subjects combined. Away from the hype, there are several promising avenues for commercializing the fullerenes. These include the development of optical devices, hardening agents, photocopying toners, chemical sensors, gas separation devices, precursors for diamond production, batteries, catalysts, hydrogen storage media and polymers. n9

In brief comment, one observes that the existence of C60 was published in 1984 by workers at Exxon Research & Engineering Company, an environment that was commercially orientated. The proposal that C60 had the structure of a truncated icosahedron was made one year later, and, by 1986, buckyballs were proposed to be of relevance to soot formed in normal combustion processes. Although he briefly touches on the press/science interface, Baggott does not fully come to grips with the issue that the reason that expectations were greatly intensified was because of aggressive reporting of (potential) applications in the news media. n10 To date, none of the applications listed by Baggott have been commercialized.

**Separately, the buckyball is still in court. See the Estate of Buckminster Fuller v. Maxfield and Oberton, 906 F.Supp. 2d 997 (ND CA 2012), Judge Koh presiding.


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