Does the perfect pebble exist in nature?

26 March, 2018 News

Paraphrasing the poet, we could say that in science the destination is worth more than the journey itself. Many times, however, the journey is so exciting and charming that is worth dedicating many years or even a whole career to it.

Gábor Domokos, Professor of Engineering, Materials and Structures at the University of Budapest, years ago decided to start an exciting scientific journey without even knowing if there is a final destination. He based his research focus on the theoretical formulation of the prominent Russian mathematician V.I. Arnold related to the possibility of a certain convex body having both stable and unstable points of balance. In 2006, Domokos, with the collaboration of Péter Várkonyi, was led to the theoretical discovery of the 3D convex “mono-monostatic” body Gömböc (bead in Hungarian).

It only remained for him to discover the hiding place of this body in nature. During more than ten years of research Gábor Domokos faced many challenges and frustrations but this did not put him down. Indicative of his persistence on the matter is that for one of his many experiments he collected, with the help of his wife, more than 2,000 pebbles from different shores in the island of Rhodes, but none of them satisfied the conditions. Despite all difficulties, Domokos did not quail and continued his pursuit, until he found the solution in the least expected place: the surface of planet Mars, where the NASA’s “Curiosity” vehicle found round pebbles. The assumption that these pebbles can be defined as Gömböc boosted the morale of this experienced mathematician and engineer to continue for many more years his research on this body.

At the Athens Science Festival 2018 he will recite his experience with searching for these bodies, and describe the odd connection of Gömböc with turtles. He will also explain why this discovery can explain the evolution of shapes in different bodies, such as grains of sand, pebbles or asteroids.

Gábor Domokos has spent most of his time working and conducting research at the University of Technology and Economics in Budapest, where he has been a professor since 1996, and in 2002 he was appointed Head of the Department of Engineering, Materials and Structures. For his work and long years of research he has been honoured with the Order of Merit (Cross of Knights) of the Republic of Hungary, and in 2010 he became the youngest member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Title: The Gömböc the Sphere and the Pebbles of Mars || Date & Time: 25 April, 18.00- 18.50
With the support of the Embassy of Hungary Athens.