In Perfect Symmetry
Jim Baggott looks at the surprising discovery of buckminsterfullerine. Starting from some mysterious bands in some astronomical spectra, he goes on to explain how scientists experimenting with arcs between graphite rods began to notice strange forms of carbon. There was plenty of speculation as to its nature, but at first the idea of a sphere - or buckyball, named after the geodesic domes designed by Buckmisnter Fuller - seemed to be too far out to be true - but it was. And then, after patents had been obtained on intricate methods of producing this strange substance, it was found that it was often present in ordinary soot.
I felt that the first part of the book, which traces the rivalries between different groups working on fullerenes, was hard to follow at times. I found it difficult to remember which group each of the people was working in and I feel Baggott could have done more to help the reader. The later part of the book doesn't suffer from this problem. It looks at the applications of fullerenes and related molecules, such as high-temperature superconductors and carbon nanotubes. Baggott also shows that there's plenty more work to be done on these intruiging molecules.