Even Isaac Asimov couldn’t dream this up.
A team of University of Manchester chemists led by Professor David Leigh have invented a molecular shape that looks exactly like the Magen David – the Star of David – which could, if harnessed correctly, yield the strongest and lightest armor ever made.
But it wasn’t easy: the shape had to create itself. Molecules don’t fuse effortlessly – in fact, chemists have been attempting to interweave molecules for over 25 years. The trick, these Brits discovered, is to let them assemble themselves via a process known as ring-closing olefin metathesis.
Drawing on the molecules found in the shells of viruses for inspiration, the scientists designed molecules that do all their own work. The result is a shape made from two distinct molecular triangles that interweave with each other three times. And thus, for a total of 114 atoms, an infinitesimally small bit of molecular Jewishness is born.
The discovery, appropriately, is dedicated to the first President of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, who happened to spend twelve years as a chemistry professor in Leigh’s own University of Manchester department.