Et Tu, crystallographer? Murder charges against close-packing pioneers evaluated

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Johannes Kepler and Thomas Harriot are recognized as the authors of the close-packing conjecture, the intuitive notion that there is no denser ensemble of congruent spheres than face-centered cubic packing. They are bound not only by the close-packing conjecture, arguably the first principle of the science of crystal structure determination, but also by notorious accusations of murder. In 1971, the eminent historian Samuel Eliot Morison alleged that Harriot beheaded Wingina, an Algonquian chieftain, and in a popular biography in 2004, Kepler was accused of poisoning his mentor, the astronomer Tycho Brahe. Herein, the charges are evaluated on behalf of the progenitors of the science of structural crystallography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-11
Number of pages8
JournalCrystal Growth and Design
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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