Photo: JO ANN FLEISCHHAUER
Buckyballs were discovered and named in a laboratory at Rice University, Houston, Texas in 1985, earning the collaborating scientists a Nobel Prize in 1996. The molecule has since been found to occur in nature, detected in ordinary candle soot and observed in galaxies close to the Milky Way.
- Jo Ann Fleischhauer 2012
Gagliato, Calabria, Italy
Buckminsterfullerene, a molecule composed of sixty carbon atoms, commonly referred to as a "Buckyball" and having the structural shape of a soccerball, is the focus of Isabella's Stair.
A Buckyball's polyhedral form is a truncated icosahedron made of 20 hexagonal and 12 pentagonal faces.
On the front of the bottom stairstep, the "net" of the sixty-carbon molecule appears as a flattened pattern of hexagons and pentagons. As one ascends the staircase, the Buckyball begins to fold into its three dimensional shape, until, on the topmost riser, the viewer discerns the fully realized polyhedron. Layered underneath the images of the morphing structure are photographs of burning candles. The flames grow longer and brighter as they interweave with the sixty-carbon molecule.