'This is a great day for me, a great day for the country'

Technion scientist Dan Shechtman shares Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovery of quasicrystals.

October 5, 2011 16:29
1 minute read.
Israeli scientist Dan Shechtman

Dan Shechtman 311. (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)


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Fresh off Wednesday's announcement that he will receive the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Technion's Dan Shechtman was forthcoming in sharing the honor. "I think this is a great day for me, of course, but also a great day for the country," he said at a press conference.

The prize does not belong to him alone, he continued. "There are thousands of scientists that research the subject I developed, and I'm sure they all see the prize as an achievement for themselves as well, and indeed they deserve it."

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Accompanied by his wife and grandson, Shechtman said he was somewhat overwhelmed by the media attention. After the official announcement, "all hell broke loose," he said in English. A string of media and congratulatory phone calls prevented him from personally relaying the news to his daughters in the United States. "I don't envy any celebrity," he joked.

Shechtman won the prize for discovering quasicrystals, which have non-repeating patterns the committee described as "fascinating mosaics of the Arabic world reproduced at the level of atoms."

Prior to his discovery, crystals were thought to only have repeating patterns. The controversy of his finding was so great that Shechtman was asked, at one point, to leave his research group. His research, ultimately, prevailed, using Arabic mosaic patterns, which rely on mathematical non-repeating patterns, as a model.

"The main lesson I learned over time is that a good scientist is a humble scientist, not one who is 100 percent sure," Shechtman said.

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