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The Geek Atlas by John Graham-Cumming

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Belgium

003

Atomium, Brussels, Belgium

gkat_003.pdf50° 53 41 N, 4° 20 28 E

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An Iron Crystal

The Atomium building in Brussels was built for the International Exhibition in 1958. It represents the crystal structure of iron (actually just one of the allotropes of iron; see sidebar) and is constructed from steel with an aluminum skin. Like the Eiffel Tower before it, the Atomium was intended to be a temporary structure, but survived because of its popularity.

The Atomium consists of 9 spheres representing iron atoms, connected by 20 tubes representing the bonds between the iron atoms, forming a cube with iron atoms at the vertexes and a single iron atom at the center. The cube structure sits balanced on one vertex for aesthetic reasons, and is supported by extra pillars connected to spheres near the ground. The entire structure is over 100 meters tall.

Between 2004 and 2006, the Atomium was extensively renovated. The corroded aluminum was removed and replaced with stainless steel (which is made from a different allotrope of iron than the allotrope represented by the Atomium itself).

There’s a lot going on inside the Atomium. In the sphere at the base, there’s an exhibition covering the 1950s ...

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