I like the imagery they offered in the May 16, 2013 University of Vienna news release on EurekAlert,
Scientists try to understand how to initiate and control the growth of nanomaterials and are exploring different ways to design and build up nanostructures with fine control over shapes. In nature, many organic forms grow bilaterally, that is, symmetrically in two distinct directions. An international team of researchers from the University of Vienna (Austria), the University of Surrey (UK) and the IFW Dresden (Germany) have now achieved such a bilateral formation of inorganic nanomaterials in a controlled environment by implementing a new method.
The scientists pressurized a gas consisting of carbon and iron atoms at an elevated temperature until they observed two arms of carbon atoms spontaneously started growing out of an iron core. When the iron core was small enough, the two carbon arms started spiraling at their ends so that the whole nanostructure bore a striking resemblance with a twirled moustache. [emphasis mine] “The encouraging insights we gained from our experiments provide a very good starting point for the controlled production of extraordinary new materials with designed nanostructures”, expects Dr. Hidetsugu Shiozawa, leading author of the scientific publication and researcher at the Faculty of Physics at the University of Vienna.
I’ll get back to the twirled moustache in a moment. In the meantime, here’s a citation for and a link to the researchers’ paper,
“Microscopic insight into the bilateral formation of carbon spirals from a symmetric iron core”
by Hidetsugu Shiozawa, Alicja Bachmatiuk, Andreas Stangl, David C. Cox, S. Ravi P. Silva, Mark H. Rümmeli & Thomas Pichler. Scientific Reports 3, Article number: 1840
The paper is open access, which means finding this illustration (the one I think shows the twirling most clearly) was easy,I believe the imagery associated with twirling moustaches, i.e., the villain in a silent movie cackling and twirling his moustaches as he watches over the heroine he’s tied the train tracks await the steaming train headed their way, is well known. Apparently, the trope was not as popular as most of us imagine. I found a fabulous website, The Bioscope; Formerly reporting on the world of early and silent cinema, which tells all in a Nov. 25, 2010 essay,
It’s a mocking idea of a silent film, the kind of silent film that was never made. All those know [who?] don’t know silent films know one thing about them – that they featured evil villains who twirled their moustaches then tied a hapless female to the railway track. And all those who do know silent films know that such scenes were hackneyed even before films were invented, and the few films that did show them did so as parody.
It’s an issue that comes up time and time again, so let’s try and pin down the historical truth. The idea of an entertainment where someone is tied to a railway track and is rescued in the nick of time certainly predates cinema. The entertainment that put the idea into the popular imagination was an 1867 stage melodrama written by American playwright and theatre manager Augustin Daly entitled Under the Gaslight which featured a man tried to railway tracks who was rescued by a woman before he could be run over by the oncoming train (Victorian theatre revelled in such stage spectaculars).
There’s lots more to the essay along with some great stills and this very charming video animation that manages to poke fun at the trope and the modern UK rail system,