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Fearful symmetry: Roger Penrose’s tiling

How the renowned scientist's quasicrystals attain their “impossible” structure

By Philip Ball  

The Penrose tiling's almost-perfect "forbidden symmetry"

Roger Penrose makes his own rules. He is one of the world’s most distinguished mathematical physicists and most inventive thinkers. Penrose’s work on the theory of general relativity in the 1960s led to the discovery that the gravity of collapsing stars can produce black-hole “singularities” in space-time. This, in turn, set Stephen Hawking on his course to rewrite black-hole physics. The research established Penrose’s name in science, but his thought continued to range much further. In The Emperor’s New Mind (1989) he…

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