20 years ago in Chemistry in Britain

20 years ago in Chemistry in Britain

In November 1985 Professor Harry Kroto of the University of Sussex telephoned to congratulate me on a successful prediction. Together with Jim Heath, Sean O’Brien, Bob Curl and Rick Smalley of Rice University, Houston, US, he had recently identified the now famous C60 molecule buckminsterfullerene, details of which were about to be published.1 He wanted to let me know that my deductions about hollow graphite molecules had come true. 

I appreciated this courtesy, because my prediction had not been published in the normal research literature. Instead, it had been aired 20 years previously in the ’Daedalus’ column of New Scientist.

Every week, as Daedalus, I put forward some amusingly half-baked scientific or technical scheme. The scheme for 3 November 1966 was to make hollow graphite molecules by high temperature synthesis in a presence of a warping agent to close the growing sheets into spheres. 

The resulting big, hollow molecules, I claimed, would form a supercritical fluid at normal temperature and pressure, ideal for shock absorbers, lubricants, gas clathrates, molecular sieves etc.  

Extracted from an article ’The chemistry of Daedalus’ by David E H Jones, a guest staff member of the School of Chemistry, the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. 

Chemistry in Britain (May 1987)