Unravelling The Mystery of Crystals: The Forerunners

André Authier

in Early Days of X-ray Crystallography

Published in print August 2013 | ISBN: 9780199659845
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191748219 | DOI:
Unravelling The Mystery of Crystals: The Forerunners

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This chapter recounts the early attempts at guessing the inner structure of crystals. The Ancients thought quartz was the result of the congelation of water. The first to think that the symmetry of quartz was due to a hexagonal packing of elementary particles, in the manner of the honeycomb, was Cardano (1550), but the first serious considerations of the different ways to pack globules were by Kepler in his study of six-cornered snowflakes. These ideas were taken up by Hooke and Bartholin. Huygens explained the double refraction of calcite by a stacking of prolate ellipsoids, Guglielmini related the external shapes of crystals to their shapes at the start of growth, and Bergman showed that the calcite scalenohedron can be interpreted as a stacking of cleavage rhombohedra. Our understanding of crystals was further improved by the observation of the constancy of interfacial angles by Steno in quartz, and observation generalized to all crystals by Carangeot and Romé de l’Isle.

Keywords: calcite; cleavage; crystals; double refraction; Huygens; Kepler; snowflakes; Steno; quartz; Romé de l’Isle

Chapter.  22528 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Crystallography

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