Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Atomium

Brussels isn't a town I've come to associate with quirkiness. It does have a mean line of ankle-wrenching cobbles, a fantastic old town square and lots of beer, mussels, fries and chocolate.

I can only presume that the Brussels I've just described was also the Brussels of the 1950s. Given that Brussels was hosting Expo 1958, I can only assume that there was a concerted effort to look to the future.
Europe must have been emerging from the aftermath of World War II and the promise of science ushering in a new era of prosperity must have been in the air.

In 1955, a fantastic and stunning new building was commissioned from A. Waterkeyn for the 1958 Expo.
The building was to consist of 9 metallic spheres connected by metal tubes and would represent an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It is contsructed in a body-centred cubic structure and when viewed from the right angle, several of the atoms line up in a diagonal across the crystal, as is shown below.

The Atomium is stunning. It stands tall, shining in the sunlight and dominates the skyline around it. It is visible from the train between Brussels and Brussels airport, and is amazing when lit up at night. I spent 4 years earning a physics degree and a further 5 years working towards my Ph.D but I never thought though that I would see a body-centred cubic building. Suddenly, all those dry diagrams from textbooks pale in comparison.

Take a trip to the Atomium some sunny day and lie on the low circular wall, looking up into the belly of the structure, watching the clouds run overhead. The Atomium celebrates its 50th birthday this year.


1 comment

Anonymous said...

Bear said to say that it's actually the reciprocal lattice of a face centred cubic. But that's him for you living in an imaginary space!

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