Pseud's corner

Princeton University's Paul Steinhardt has been investigating quasicrystals for more than a quarter century, but until now has seen no evidence of naturally formed examples. Quasicrystals are a type of solid with structures in between those of crystals and glasses. Now, he and his colleagues including Luca Bindi, head of mineralogy at the University of Florence, Italy, have identified a quasicrystal in an Al-Cu-Fe mineral sample from Russia's Koryak mountains. "We don't know if there will be other natural examples, but it raises new questions in geology and condensed matter physics," says Steinhardt, "I think of it as a beginning."