Scientist Dan Shechtman of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering quasicrystals. He will receive 10 million kronor ($1.4 million). All of Israel celebrates in his accomplishments as this scientific breakthrough brings the small country great pride in its technological innovation.
Working at what is now known as the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Shechtman discovered quasicrystals back in 1982. He was chilling a molten mixture of aluminum and manganese one April morning when he realized something strange. After examining the mixture under an electron microscope, he was able to see concentric circles all within the same distance of each other. The significance here was that the atomic arrangement defied the laws of nature in this way.
In retrospect, the scientific community was not the most supportive of his findings initially. At one point, Shechtman was even asked to leave his research group. In 1982, he finally published his data after consulting with other researchers in the field. After being published, experts in crystallography reconsidered their previous judgment on his findings. Despite being met with criticism, Shechtman stood behind his research and remained confident about his findings. His faith in his work paid off last Wednesday when he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Although received with excitement from the rest of the world, this event is also shedding light on the major budgetary problems occurring in Israel right now. The Israeli government has been instituting serious budget cuts, causing many researchers to lose their jobs at the country's leading universities. Many scientists took offense from the government's actions, but it is commendable work like Shechtman's that proves research deserves the funding it needs.