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Nobel Laureate Sir Harry Kroto, the chemist who has helped to develop some of the most important building blocks of nanotechnology, delivered an impassioned and entertaining defense of scientific freedom to an audience of about 500 Wednesday in the Big Blue Room of the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

With sound effects, colorful visuals and no shortage of humor, Kroto took the audience on a whirlwind tour of the discovery of C-60, soccer-ball-like molecules that may someday be used to create materials that will revolutionize electronics and civil engineering.

He won a Nobel Prize for development of the C-60 molecules, but he was quick to point out that this was an accidental, or "left-field discovery." He urged the many students in the audience, including some from middle and high schools, to build a world that believes in free-ranging scientific inquiry. "It is important to do science and recognize what is not discovered through strategic research," he said.

Kroto has recently joined the faculty at Florida State University. A native of England, he was on the faculty of the University of Sussex for 35 years.

The speech, which Kroto titled "2010: NanoSpace Odyssey," was sponsored by Old Dominion University's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Oktay Baysal, dean of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, welcomed the audience and pointed out that Wednesday was an important day in engineering, technology and the sciences at the University. In addition to Kroto's speech, there were two other workshops of major significance in Hampton Roads involving ODU researchers. In Norfolk there was an international workshop with Japanese researchers at the Center for Bioelectrics, and in Hampton, some of the most important national researchers in learning technologies were participating in a workshop at The Center for Advance Engineering Environments.

This article was posted on: March 16, 2005

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