There is a lesson here, it’s that we cannot allow science to become religion, and must always question scientific authority particularly when it is used for political purposes.
From The NY Times (emphasis mine):
Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman won the 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for his discovery of quasicrystals, a mosaic-like chemical structure that researchers previously thought was impossible.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Shechtman’s discovery in 1982 fundamentally changed the way chemists look at solid matter. It initially faced strong objections from the scientific community, and even got him kicked out of his research group in the United States.
Since then, quasicrystals have been produced in laboratories and a Swedish company found them in one of the most durable kinds of steel, which is now used in products such as razor blades and thin needles made specifically for eye surgery, the citation said.
I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Mr. Shechtman, as I have been the beneficiary of the “thin needles made specifically for eye surgery,” more often than I would have liked. I thank him for not caving in to scientific consensus and correctness.
Twenty years from now, I wonder how many other scientific “deniers” will be proven to be correct.
Update: In this video, Shechtman describes the scientific community’s hostile reaction, including calling him a “disgrace” and his theories “nonsense.”