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He was asked to leave his research group, and moved to another one within the National Bureau of Standards, Shechtman said. He eventually returned to Israel, where he found one colleague prepared to work with him on an article describing the phenomenon. The article was at first rejected but was finally published in November 1984 to an uproar in the scientific world.

In 1987, friends in France and Japan succeeded in growing crystals large enough for X-rays to verify what he had discovered with the electron microscope.

“The moment I presented that, the community said, `OK, Danny, now you are talking. Now we understand you. Now we accept what you have found,’” Shechtman told reporters.

Shechtman, who also teaches at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, said he never wavered even in the face of stiff criticism from double Nobel winner Linus Pauling, who never accepted Shechtman’s findings.

“He would stand on those platforms and declare, ‘Danny Shechtman is talking nonsense. There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.’” Shechtman said. “He really was a great scientist, but he was wrong. It’s not the first time he was wrong.”

Shechtman’s battle “eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter,” the academy said.

Nancy B. Jackson, president of the American Chemical Society, called Shechtman’s breakthrough “one of these great scientific discoveries that go against the rules.” Only later did some scientists go back to some of their own inexplicable findings and realize they had seen quasicrystals without understanding what were looking at, Jackson said.

“Anytime you have a discovery that changes the conventional wisdom that’s 200 years old, that’s something that’s really remarkable,” said Princeton University physicist Paul J. Steinhardt, who coined the term “quasicrystals” and had been doing theoretical work on them before Shechtman reported finding the real thing.

Steinhardt recalled the day a fellow scientist showed him Shechtman’s paper in 1984: “I sort of leapt in the air.”

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Science writer Malcolm Ritter in New York and Associated Press writers Karl Ritter, Malin Rising and Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm contributed to this report.