Smalley dead at 62
October 29, 2005 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Richard Smalley , Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of C60 (buckminsterfullerene) passed away yesterday. He was 62 years old. RIP.
posted by lalochezia (21 comments total)
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:21 AM on October 29, 2005

posted by ozomatli at 8:28 AM on October 29, 2005

posted by Rothko at 8:30 AM on October 29, 2005

posted by allen.spaulding at 8:32 AM on October 29, 2005

posted by Smedleyman at 8:53 AM on October 29, 2005

Do buckeyballs cause cancer? I read somewhere there was concern about that based on animal studies.
posted by stbalbach at 9:05 AM on October 29, 2005

stbalbach, not really.
posted by Rothko at 9:20 AM on October 29, 2005

They do seem to be considered toxic, but not enough research done yet.
posted by stbalbach at 9:26 AM on October 29, 2005

I wonder what applications they could have in cosmetics
posted by elpapacito at 9:39 AM on October 29, 2005

posted by fullerine at 9:41 AM on October 29, 2005

Dr. Richard Smalley died on October 28 2005, at the age of 62, after a six-year struggle with cancer.

Hopefully C60 will help fight that.
posted by elpapacito at 9:57 AM on October 29, 2005

Not to derail, but there's a difference between toxic and cancerous.
posted by Rothko at 10:08 AM on October 29, 2005

Not that I know the guy or anything, but while on a Scavenger hunt at Rice, my advisor (who worked in his lab) "borrowed" a container of nanotubes, I took a sprite from his personal fridge, and photocopied my ass on his photocopier. Great guy though :)
posted by tricky_t at 10:34 AM on October 29, 2005

Speaking of bucky balls (buckminsterfullerene), today's "Quirks and Quarks" (on CBC) featured the world's smallest cars. They had bucky balls as wheels.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:42 AM on October 29, 2005

And also

posted by arcticwoman at 11:42 AM on October 29, 2005

   / \__/   |__/  \__|
  |  \__/  |
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:17 PM on October 29, 2005

ah man. That was supposed to be quirkily reverent. I suck.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:22 PM on October 29, 2005

He taught my Chem 101 class at Rice. His lectures were baffling-- definitely drove home the point that being a Nobel Prize winning chemist doesn't make you a great teacher for Chem 101. I didn't realize he had cancer. R.I.P.
posted by jcruelty at 3:27 PM on October 29, 2005

Is there some kind of masterplan going on here - if you achieve anything worthwhile in life (discoveries, inventions, benefits to society, teh funni on TV, etc.) then you are destined to die young?
I'd better stop researching the unified theory before I discover anything remotely useful...

I reckon that a fitting tribute would be to cremate his body down to pure carbon, and turn him into a whole bunch of buckminsterfullerenes... that'd be an awesome tribute!

posted by Chunder at 3:49 PM on October 29, 2005

I'm disappointed that he didn't live long enough to see how his argument with Eric Drexler came out. Smalley argued against molecular assembler-based nanotech, which kind of surprised me. If you want to read more, Ray Kurzweil has a good article about the debate.

The anecdote from the Houston Chronicle obituary made me chuckle:

. . . William Barnett recalled Smalley agonizing over whom to give the 10 tickets he had received for the awards banquet in Sweden. Barnett said Smalley gave two to his son, Chad, who later told his father he was bringing his mom, one of Smalley's ex-wives. Smalley had three.

I think his reaction was, 'Oh lord, now I've got to ask the other one,'" Barnett said. "The Swedes were so taken with this, the joke going around the banquet was that they were going to tell Rick, if they had only known this in advance, they would have awarded him the peace prize as well.

posted by surlycat at 1:00 AM on October 30, 2005 [1 favorite]

In that article, surlycat, we can sxee the drexler-kurzweil axis performing its usual revisionism:
" Smalley was originally inspired by Drexler's ground-breaking work"

What utter bullshit. This is like saying that Jesus was inspired by the guy on the corner ranting how he * is * jesus.Smalley was a physical chemist for many years before Drexler came on the scene.

The flaws with kurzweils/drexlers positions are legion, but ultimately their self-serving prohetoid-BS that they keep repeating miss two important points:

a) their predictions haven't come true and

B) they don't do experiments to test thier predictions!

It's all very well saying all we need is a precise atom-positioning robot (their argument) - but they have not designed (in a meaningful sense rather than just with cartoons of radicals and rigid rods) and * tested * any such device. The level of analysis in drexlerian systems is one up from the I-would-like-to-build-a-matter-transporter-cos-I-saw-it-on-star-trek guys.

Smalley was a great experimental scientist for 40 years.

Drexler is a sci-fi-obsessed computer geek with a few neat stoner back-of-an-envelope ideas that have evolved into an internet cult for those who are scientifically challenged.
posted by lalochezia at 5:07 PM on October 30, 2005

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