КАК ЛЮДИ ИСКУССТВА И НАУКИ ИЗУЧАЮТ ЭТОТ МИР
An interview by Grigoriy Konson with Artem R. Oganov, PhD, FRSC MAE, Professor at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences, is devoted to crystallography—the science of solid crystalline substances surrounding us, containing an ordered periodic system of atomic positions. Crystallography is at the forefront of the science of matter. It contributed to proving the atomistic hypothesis, which dates back to antiquity. This field of science enables studies of the world around us, and can lead to the creation of new materials with unique properties. Its methods helped to understand the structure and function of proteins, how living matter works—DNA and heredity, enzymes, hemoglobin, the working of drugs. In the interview, not only the structure of crystals is discussed, but also their laws, the correlation between the structure of a material and its properties, the possibility of selecting sub-stances for various applications, the construction of new materials on the computer, which in fact leads to the creation of a new reality. This is facilitated by studying how the structure of crystalline substances behaves at high pressures, the conditions prevailing in the interior of the planet. Ana-lyzing matter under pressure helps to explore the interiors of our and other planets, as well as the processes occurring within them. At the same time, predicting previously unknown crystalline substances is a new thing in crystallography—and until recently was considered impossible.
Tracing the origins of crystallography, the scientist proceeds from the phenomenon of symmetry in living nature (often used in their art by the Sumerians, especially mirror symmetry), which found its vivid manifestation in regular polyhedra called Platonic solids. In 360 BC, Plato de-scribed these polyhedra in his dialogue Timaeus and compared them with all the known “elements”—fire, air, water and earth. Studying crystallography, the scientist finds parallels in art, giving examples of non-trivial patterns of Islamic artists and contemporary ones, such as Escher’s. In the context of this topic, the interview also addresses a number of more general issues related to the development of science in the modern world (through the example of models adopted in the USA, China, and Russia).