Paul J. Steinhardt is the Albert Einstein Professor in Science at Princeton University, where he is on the faculty of both the departments of Physics and Astrophysical Sciences. He cofounded and directs the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science. He has received the Dirac Medal and other prestigious awards for his work on the early universe and novel forms of matter. He is the author of The Second Kind of Impossible, and the coauthor of Endless Universe with Neil Turok, which describes the two competing ideas in cosmology to which he contributed. With his student, Dov Levine, Steinhardt first invented the theoretical concept of quasicrystals before they were synthesized in a laboratory. More than three decades later, with Luca Bindi, he guided the team that led to the discovery of three different natural quasicrystals in the Kamchatka Peninsula. In 2014, the International Mineralogical Association named a new mineral steinhardtite in his honor.
Part physics primer, part fantastic adventure...Steinhardt's affection and admiration for the journey's colorful cast of characters infuse every page. Although his excitement is palpable, he is also careful and methodical, often reminding himself that he could be wrong. The Second Kind of Impossible shows the benefit of a slow and steady approach to science, where determination and luck are just as important as insight. --Science News [A] memoir and rollercoaster adventure, packed with discovery, disappointment, exhilaration and persistence...This book is a front-row seat to history as it is made. --Nature Magazine A gripping scientific quest...an admirable popular account of the quasicrystal, an oddball arrangement of atoms that seems to contradict scientific laws....Steinhardt [is] a pioneer in the field and a fine writer. --Kirkus Reviews An intriguing blend of science and international adventure. [Steinhardt] takes readers on a wild ride in search of a new kind of matter...full of intrigue and adventure, culminating with the epic Kamchatka journey....A general audience can and should enjoy this original, suspenseful true-life thriller of science investigation and discovery. --Publishers Weekly A truly amazing adventure story, full of twists and turns, right up to the very end. It has my strongest recommendation. --Sir Roger Penrose, author of The Emperor's New Mind An epic account of two scientific triumphs: a thirty-year theoretical search for understanding and a real-world expedition into the wilds of Kamchatka. It is as if The Origin of Species and The Voyage of the Beagle had been published together in one volume. --Freeman Dyson, author of Maker of Patterns Scientists, smugglers, and spies--this book is an exciting and enlightening scientific detective story. The tale is about far more than a new form of matter; it is also a thrilling and wonderfully written look at how science works. --Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein A rare and compulsively readable blend of science and thriller, The Second Kind of Impossible tells of the quest to find a new type of matter that would rewrite the rules of reality. Paul Steinhardt, one of the world's leading theoretical physicists, takes readers on a wondrous odyssey across multiple decades and continents as, against all odds, he helps to topple scientific orthodoxy. --Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe