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Aspen Institute Italia Award

Rome, 25/10/2018, Aspen Institute Italia Award

The winner of the third edition of the Aspen Institute Italia Award for scientific research and collaboration between Italy and the United States was a study entitled “The quest for forbidden crystals”, conducted by Luca Bindi, Associate Professor of Mineralogy and Crystallography at the Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Florence, and by Paul J. Steinhardt, Albert Einstein Professor in Science and Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University. The study concerns a new discovery: that of the existence of quasicrystals in nature. These chemical formations had only been hypothesized theoretically, and, before this now award-winning study, had only been produced in the laboratory. The study takes as its starting point a small naturally-occurring "quasicrystal" specimen held in the Museum of Natural History at the University of Florence and comes to some surprising conclusions. The authors of the study actually undertook a challenging expedition in search of a meteorite that had fallen in easternmost Russia. The Award committee granted the prize to the study on the grounds of its considerable scientific merit, its important spillover effects, its interdisciplinary nature, and the fact that it also involved research "in the field", standing as an example of the value of human curiosity.