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07.22.10

Buckyballs Jiggle Like Jello

This artist's animation illustrates vibrating buckyballs -- spherical molecules of carbon discovered in space for the first time by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. These molecules jiggle, shimmy and shake in a variety of ways -- 174 to be exact. Four of these vibrational modes cause the molecules to either absorb or generate infrared light. Thanks to these jiggles, Spitzer's infrared vision was able to detect the long-sought signatures of buckyballs in space.

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