In 1985, Robert Curl, Harold Kroto, and Richard Smalley were pooling their talents and chemistry research when they collectively “tripped on a ball”. It was a ball of carbon actually, made of 60 atoms in the shape of a perfect geodesic sphere. This fullerene, the Buckyball, was named after architect, artist and scientist Buckminster Fuller whose signature work was with geodesic domes like the one he built at the 1967 Montreal Expo. Buckyballs are extremely significant in chemistry as the carbon-based sphere occurs frequently in nature. More recently, buckyballs, and even more so carbon nanotubes (buckytubes) have been of particular interest due to their utility in technology and materials research and development.
The Nature of Code has been mostly about forces and physics thus far…enter now the quantum physics. The symmetry of the carbon atoms’ orientation in the buckyball sphere make it an extremely strong and cohesive molecule. It is sort of as if the atoms have a magnetism toward one another.
…which brings us to Buckyballs?…the toy!!! The small spherical rare earth magnets have become the favorite desk toy among working nerds.
The goal of this project, for the final, will be to simulate the behavior of the buckyball magnets within processing. These are a few points that describe the movement of the buckyballs.
- Magnetic attraction to one another – strong attraction at a fixed distance
- Changing (decreasing) magnetic attraction in some group geometries
- Regular gravity effects when falling but these are “overpowered” by magnetism
- Buckyballs bounce several times on hard, stable surfaces
- Buckyballs typically arrange linearly if added to group individually