web site hit counter The Second Kind of Impossible: The Extraordinary Quest for a New Form of Matter - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Second Kind of Impossible: The Extraordinary Quest for a New Form of Matter

Availability: Ready to download

*Shortlisted for the 2019 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize* One of the most fascinating scientific detective stories of the last fifty years, an exciting quest for a new form of matter. “A riveting tale of derring-do” (Nature), this book reads like James Gleick’s Chaos combined with an Indiana Jones adventure. When leading Princeton physicist Paul Steinha *Shortlisted for the 2019 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize* One of the most fascinating scientific detective stories of the last fifty years, an exciting quest for a new form of matter. “A riveting tale of derring-do” (Nature), this book reads like James Gleick’s Chaos combined with an Indiana Jones adventure. When leading Princeton physicist Paul Steinhardt began working in the 1980s, scientists thought they knew all the conceivable forms of matter. The Second Kind of Impossible is the story of Steinhardt’s thirty-five-year-long quest to challenge conventional wisdom. It begins with a curious geometric pattern that inspires two theoretical physicists to propose a radically new type of matter—one that raises the possibility of new materials with never before seen properties, but that violates laws set in stone for centuries. Steinhardt dubs this new form of matter “quasicrystal.” The rest of the scientific community calls it simply impossible. The Second Kind of Impossible captures Steinhardt’s scientific odyssey as it unfolds over decades, first to prove viability, and then to pursue his wildest conjecture—that nature made quasicrystals long before humans discovered them. Along the way, his team encounters clandestine collectors, corrupt scientists, secret diaries, international smugglers, and KGB agents. Their quest culminates in a daring expedition to a distant corner of the Earth, in pursuit of tiny fragments of a meteorite forged at the birth of the solar system. Steinhardt’s discoveries chart a new direction in science. They not only change our ideas about patterns and matter, but also reveal new truths about the processes that shaped our solar system. The underlying science is important, simple, and beautiful—and Steinhardt’s firsthand account is “packed with discovery, disappointment, exhilaration, and persistence...This book is a front-row seat to history as it is made” (Nature).


Compare

*Shortlisted for the 2019 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize* One of the most fascinating scientific detective stories of the last fifty years, an exciting quest for a new form of matter. “A riveting tale of derring-do” (Nature), this book reads like James Gleick’s Chaos combined with an Indiana Jones adventure. When leading Princeton physicist Paul Steinha *Shortlisted for the 2019 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize* One of the most fascinating scientific detective stories of the last fifty years, an exciting quest for a new form of matter. “A riveting tale of derring-do” (Nature), this book reads like James Gleick’s Chaos combined with an Indiana Jones adventure. When leading Princeton physicist Paul Steinhardt began working in the 1980s, scientists thought they knew all the conceivable forms of matter. The Second Kind of Impossible is the story of Steinhardt’s thirty-five-year-long quest to challenge conventional wisdom. It begins with a curious geometric pattern that inspires two theoretical physicists to propose a radically new type of matter—one that raises the possibility of new materials with never before seen properties, but that violates laws set in stone for centuries. Steinhardt dubs this new form of matter “quasicrystal.” The rest of the scientific community calls it simply impossible. The Second Kind of Impossible captures Steinhardt’s scientific odyssey as it unfolds over decades, first to prove viability, and then to pursue his wildest conjecture—that nature made quasicrystals long before humans discovered them. Along the way, his team encounters clandestine collectors, corrupt scientists, secret diaries, international smugglers, and KGB agents. Their quest culminates in a daring expedition to a distant corner of the Earth, in pursuit of tiny fragments of a meteorite forged at the birth of the solar system. Steinhardt’s discoveries chart a new direction in science. They not only change our ideas about patterns and matter, but also reveal new truths about the processes that shaped our solar system. The underlying science is important, simple, and beautiful—and Steinhardt’s firsthand account is “packed with discovery, disappointment, exhilaration, and persistence...This book is a front-row seat to history as it is made” (Nature).

30 review for The Second Kind of Impossible: The Extraordinary Quest for a New Form of Matter

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Who would think a book on crystallography and icosahedrons could be made interesting, especially for this high school physics failure? Yet, Mr. Steinhardt has created an extremely interesting read. This work is really a scientific adventure story, melding the creative process with application of logic with hard data ultimately obtained through field work on the mosquito-infested Kamchatka Peninsula, of all places. Mr. Steinhardt does a remarkable job of bridging the world of theoretical physics w Who would think a book on crystallography and icosahedrons could be made interesting, especially for this high school physics failure? Yet, Mr. Steinhardt has created an extremely interesting read. This work is really a scientific adventure story, melding the creative process with application of logic with hard data ultimately obtained through field work on the mosquito-infested Kamchatka Peninsula, of all places. Mr. Steinhardt does a remarkable job of bridging the world of theoretical physics with the vernacular of ordinary, everyday advanced degree recipients; as for the mere college graduate, I cannot say. I did put this book down noticing that Mr. Steinhardt lives a life far removed from the daily cares and concerns of the billions on our planet. He devotes intense dedication and resources into the investigation of an arcane subject that may be of questionable value to anyone. Are his efforts acts of scientific heroism or examples of a larger problem, the seeming further isolation of science from humanity? I very much liked the fact that Mr. Steinhardt named names, the institutions and individuals that both helped and hindered his efforts. I recommend this book as an excellent example of the scientific process in action and commend Mr. Steinhardt for the quality of his narrative.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David Wineberg

    The real life adventures of a theoretical physicist Science has always sought symmetry. Einstein spent the last half of his life trying to fit the universe into a neat, symmetrical package. Anything that smacks of asymmetry is suspect. So a collection of multisided crystals was long ago deemed impossible to fit together. Think triangles, squares, rectangles and rhombuses as the limits. For good measure, the five to twelve-sideds were deemed impossible to even exist in nature. For the past 300 yea The real life adventures of a theoretical physicist Science has always sought symmetry. Einstein spent the last half of his life trying to fit the universe into a neat, symmetrical package. Anything that smacks of asymmetry is suspect. So a collection of multisided crystals was long ago deemed impossible to fit together. Think triangles, squares, rectangles and rhombuses as the limits. For good measure, the five to twelve-sideds were deemed impossible to even exist in nature. For the past 300 years this has been solid, unquestioned science. For someone to claim such crystals actually exist in nature was tantamount to claiming there was a new kind of matter. And that’s what The Second Kind of Impossible is about. For three decades, Pau Steinhardt of Princeton has been piecing together the puzzle of quasicrystals. They are multisided crystals that can be manufactured in labs (and have been since the early 80s), but have been deemed a natural impossibility. Impossible, because they won’t fit together into repeating patterns like we see on bathroom floors. His quest to prove otherwise was deemed impossible by none other than Richard Feynman. Steinhardt proved everyone wrong, and this is his story, warts and all. The business of “impossible” has a wonderful explanation. Steinhardt was a student and then colleague of Richard Feynman’s. Feynman loved to challenge scientists on their theories and findings. He would imperiously dismiss things as impossible. And that pretty much shut people up. But it turns out a Feynman impossible could actually be the compliment of a scientist delighted to find something not only new to him, but hitherto considered impossible. To get an impossible in this context was about the highest praise possible. And Paul Steinhardt has been following that dream ever since. For a deskbound theoretical physicist, this led to an entirely new universe, all of it challenging. For example, Steinhardt had to find experts in geology where he knew nothing, and eventually led a government-approved mad expedition to Kamchatka in eastern Siberia. (Steinhardt was not only not a geologist, he had never even been camping before. And Kamchatka was probably not the best place to start.) He went through whole generations of grad students as assistants in his quest. He was ridiculed as naïve by the best in the business. One of those most famous scientists in the world said there is no such thing as quasicrystals, just quasiscientists. But he was befriended by an Italian scientist named Luca Bindi when no one would support him, and Bindi became his miracle man, constantly providing leaps forward in what many classified as futile if not mad. What they proved was no less than a new form of matter itself. The matter they discovered was crystals within alloys of aluminum. These are not possible naturally on Earth, because “Aluminum has a voracious affinity for oxygen,” and the alloys they found were pure combinations between metallic aluminum and copper – with no influence from oxygen. They produced crystals never seen before in nature. Steinhardt had to trace the sample he found back through fraud, lies, non-cooperation and dead ends. Years of detective work led nowhere in his quest to find where the sample actually came from, who found it and under what circumstances. He was told by a world-class scientist he was wasting his time, and another tried to extort exorbitant fees from him to tell his story. Steinhardt was eventually able to prove beyond any doubt the crystals came from a single spot in Siberia via outer space, because the isotopes of oxygen that originate in space have a different footprint than they do in Earthly matter. So once he (incredibly) found the very spot they were originally discovered, taking the measure of the specimens confirmed they were from an asteroid that either crashed or split up over Siberia 7000 years ago. The detective work here is nothing short of phenomenal. He used electron microscopes, atomic slicing, particle accelerators and a cannon in his quest. Sherlock Holmes has nothing on Paul Steinhardt. The mystery then shifted to how the crystals were made: what massive force could have produced such pressure, followed by such rapid cooling, to produce such impossible crystals. The book is a remarkably exciting recounting of the decades, of two steps forward, one step back, of miracle funding, miracle discoveries, fabulous loyalty and teamwork, and ultimate success over the impossible. Steinhardt has peppered the book with humor, humility, personality and humanity. There’s nary a mathematical formula to sully the story. It is a joy to read. One of the numerous fascinating sidelights was provided early on by an American named Robert Ammann. He had envisioned this non-periodic assembly of shapes years earlier. He was not a scholar or scientist; he was an intuitive amateur. He dropped out of Brandeis and became a programmer. When he was laid off, he ended up sorting mail for the post office. Yet he boosted Steinhardt’s search with his assumptions. He posited internal structural lines and geometric forms to multisided shapes. These lines were required to connect the forms/crystals with straight lines from shape to shape, or the entire structure would be defective. Scientists began to study Ammann. His insights were unique. Then he suddenly died of a heart attack at 47. And Science didn’t even find out for years. Such is the world of scientists. What is remarkable to a civilian like me is that no one could conceivably construct a graphic of these multisided shapes all fitting together perfectly (without Ammann’s insights). You would come to a dead end after 20 pieces and have to start over. Again and again. We need the comfort of simplicity and symmetry, repeating patterns, and the safety of limits. But Steinhardt’s examples of generated artwork are beautiful in their very asymmetry, something completely novel. That of course, is the least of the properties of quasicrystals, an area so huge we don’t even know where to begin to explore it. Steinhardt has opened a can of worms like no other. Bravo. David Wineberg For this same review with images, see https://medium.com/the-straight-dope/...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Ashton

    This was one of the best books I’ve read in a while! It kept my interest the entire time and I couldn’t wait to continue the read each time I had to stop. It’s full of fascinating science, travel to Siberia, amazing ideas, accidental/providential discoveries, meteorites, the creation of the universe, and new forms of matter than were ever seen before! I loved it and highly recommend!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ken DeBacker

    Paul Steinhardt writes about what is possible when confronted with conventional views of the impossible. He is a theoretical physicist that stumbled on using shapes and patterns that challenged the view of what is possible for matter in the physical world. It is a thirty five year quest to find these new forms of matter which would occur naturally rather than in a laboratory setting. The writing is clear and concise for the lay reader. Tirst half of the work is devoted to the theory and finding Paul Steinhardt writes about what is possible when confronted with conventional views of the impossible. He is a theoretical physicist that stumbled on using shapes and patterns that challenged the view of what is possible for matter in the physical world. It is a thirty five year quest to find these new forms of matter which would occur naturally rather than in a laboratory setting. The writing is clear and concise for the lay reader. Tirst half of the work is devoted to the theory and finding samples in collections and museums throughout the world. the second half of hte work is deovted to the author's adventure in Russia to seek evidence in the real world. The real world evidence is in the formation of the solar system and matter in the form of quasicrystals buried in meteorites four and one half billion years old. The book's title is a homage to Richard Feynmann. Highly recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Richard S

    Some books are about miracles. Even science books. A scientist by the name of Penrose solves tiling puzzles based on the mathematical games column in Scientific American. Professor Steinhardt at U Penn and a grad student, intrigued, start to explore a ridiculous idea. They are laughed at, discouraged, told they are wasting their time, but, through sheer persistence, find a new form of matter, breaking 200 year-old laws. A new form of matter that makes its way into non-stick frying pans today. Th Some books are about miracles. Even science books. A scientist by the name of Penrose solves tiling puzzles based on the mathematical games column in Scientific American. Professor Steinhardt at U Penn and a grad student, intrigued, start to explore a ridiculous idea. They are laughed at, discouraged, told they are wasting their time, but, through sheer persistence, find a new form of matter, breaking 200 year-old laws. A new form of matter that makes its way into non-stick frying pans today. The twists and turns of this incredible 30 year story are so wild it's at times difficult to believe. In fact if this was fiction you would laugh at just how ridiculous the plot is - great idea! Super creative! Where did you come up with that one? But it's all real (although one suspects embellished in parts). Can a science book have a spoiler? This one kind of does. Let's just say this book (literally) goes places I've never seen a science book go before. I will leave it at that. In the end, you are simply amazed, the most incredibly distant things are brought together like magic. Dickens would be proud. I was going to ding it a star for (lack of) style - but it's an authentic voice. Not as well written as science books written by people who do it for a living. And yet Professor Steinhardt is full of an infectious enthusiasm, not a boring moment. It makes me wish I'd become a scientist for a career. Regardless, it will give you great faith in the scientific community, their clear-headedness, their insistence on proof, their willingness, even enthusiasm, for challenges to their thinking. There is still hope for the human race.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ash Jogalekar

    An amazing story, part top-notch scientific discovery, part detective story, part field adventure, Steinhardt’s remarkable book tells the story of his search for quasicrystals, a novel form of matter with geometric features that were thought impossible until then. The story is spiced up with hopes and failings and with Steinhardt’s encounters with legendary thinkers like Richard Feynman (his undergraduate research advisor) and Roger Penrose. There’s a voluble multitasking Russian cook and a Sibe An amazing story, part top-notch scientific discovery, part detective story, part field adventure, Steinhardt’s remarkable book tells the story of his search for quasicrystals, a novel form of matter with geometric features that were thought impossible until then. The story is spiced up with hopes and failings and with Steinhardt’s encounters with legendary thinkers like Richard Feynman (his undergraduate research advisor) and Roger Penrose. There’s a voluble multitasking Russian cook and a Siberian cat named bucks guarding a campsite in the remote wilds of the Kamchatka Peninsula, and stories of Israelis and Italians secretly smuggling rare crystals out of Russia. What more could you want in a book?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ravi

    A scientific thriller if there ever was one. I first heard about Paul Steinhardt's crazy adventure when I was a physics grad student at Penn in 2012. That year he was invited to give the Primakoff Lecture and gave one of the most fascinating and entertaining talks I've ever heard entitled "Once Upon a Time in Kamchatka: The Extraordinary Search for Natural Quasicrystals." This book summarizes his 3-decades-long quest to find crystals with symmetries previously believed to be "impossible," called A scientific thriller if there ever was one. I first heard about Paul Steinhardt's crazy adventure when I was a physics grad student at Penn in 2012. That year he was invited to give the Primakoff Lecture and gave one of the most fascinating and entertaining talks I've ever heard entitled "Once Upon a Time in Kamchatka: The Extraordinary Search for Natural Quasicrystals." This book summarizes his 3-decades-long quest to find crystals with symmetries previously believed to be "impossible," called quasicrystals. It's a heartwarming and harrowing tale about the kind of major discovery that most scientists can only dream about. There's definitely something to be said about persistence!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robert Cooke

    This is a wonderful book that taught me about a branch of science I knew nothing about and combined with a rip-roaring detective story that takes the beginning of our solar system, KGB agents, illegal mineral dealing and a journey to Siberia. I really liked it showed science and scientific discovery is not some dry boring event but an exciting up and down journey of discovery.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sylvain Ribault

    I have read many science books, and this is one of the best. Not for remodeling my vision of a whole subject like Lucio Russo's The Forgotten Revolution or Nick Lane's The Vital Question, but for demonstrating virtually all aspects of scientific inquiry in a single coherent story: from abstract mathematics to theoretical then experimental chemistry and mineralogy, to digging dirt in Kamchatka in search of meteorite fragments; from a solitary obsession to debating critics, launching new fields of I have read many science books, and this is one of the best. Not for remodeling my vision of a whole subject like Lucio Russo's The Forgotten Revolution or Nick Lane's The Vital Question, but for demonstrating virtually all aspects of scientific inquiry in a single coherent story: from abstract mathematics to theoretical then experimental chemistry and mineralogy, to digging dirt in Kamchatka in search of meteorite fragments; from a solitary obsession to debating critics, launching new fields of enquiry, and organizing large international collaborations. The book is an autobiographical thriller, whose author and main character could be called a vertically integrated scientist. Paul Steinhardt continually learns new fields of research and new methods of work, in the service of his passion for quasicrystals. Writing a popular book on the subject is the latest trade he has learned. (The book does not chronicle its own writing, which comes almost as a surprise.) And he has learned it very well, although his style has lost some spontaneity and originality in the process. Of course, it is mostly a pleasure that the book is professionally written and edited: pictures are right where you need them, developments are never too long, and the science is as clear as it could be. Colleagues and collaborators are given the praise they deserve, though a bit too systematically for my taste. And suspense is always maintained for as long as possible. This gives the book its thriller side, but the suspense is sometimes a bit artificial, and in one instance even scientifically questionable. The instance where suspense goes too far is when Steinhardt wants us to believe that his big Kamchatka expedition has low chances of success. Of course, the reader already knows that a big chunk of the book is devoted to the expedition and its planning, so there is little real suspense about its outcome. But Steinhardt insists on downplaying the chances, and even recounts a discussion where the team gave itself at most one percent chance of achieving its aims. This stretches credulity: given the prior information that khatyrkite was already found at the very same location, given that the new expedition is more numerous and skilled than its predecessor, and knows what it is looking for, it is the odds of finding nothing that were small. I suspect that Steinhardt and his colleagues more or less consciously knew that the odds were in their favour, but did not openly admit it for superstitious and/or psychological reasons. The attempt to take readers for a ride falls flat, and makes a dent on the author's credibility. Finally, this book is not only about quasicrystals, but also about aging. Unlike in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, the theme of aging is not mentioned explicitly. But aging underlies the author's progressions from hardcore mathematical physics to field mineralogy, from solitary thinking to managing large collaborations, from a subject in which he is the world's foremost specialist to subjects in which he brings little more than his energy and enthusiasm, from finding a new form of matter to spending years on a few small pieces of rock. The book could have ended with a fictional meeting between the author and his younger self: two scientists with very different characters, although they share a fascination for the same quasicrystals.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Addison

    An excellently written scientific adventure! Recommended for lovers of science, geometry or geology.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jrobertus

    This is a strangely entertaining non-fiction book about forms of material. Hmmmm. I spent my life as a protein crystallographer, so I was pretty familiar with packing and symmetry. There are only certain ways you can pack identical objects in a plane or in 3D space. Crystals are repeating motifs of identical objects. You can only tile a surface with 3 regular cyclic symmetries, 3, 4, and 6 fold, like triangles, squares and hexagons. You can tile with a mixture of shapes, like octagons and square This is a strangely entertaining non-fiction book about forms of material. Hmmmm. I spent my life as a protein crystallographer, so I was pretty familiar with packing and symmetry. There are only certain ways you can pack identical objects in a plane or in 3D space. Crystals are repeating motifs of identical objects. You can only tile a surface with 3 regular cyclic symmetries, 3, 4, and 6 fold, like triangles, squares and hexagons. You can tile with a mixture of shapes, like octagons and squares of appropriate size and Islamic mural art shows many more examples. However you can't tile with pentagons - at least that was the dogma. Mathematicians, like Roger Penrose showed you can tile with some versions, which he calledd kites and darts, and fill space with apparent 5 fold symmetry but a careful look shows the apparent 5 folds are all in a non-repeating arrangement. Could nature do a similar trick with atom bonding? Well there wouldn't be this book if it couldn't. I remember when the mineral x-ray patterns came out a few years ago and there was the 5 (ie 10) fold pattern. Steinhardt spent 35 years and a lot of flack to establish the notion of quasi-crystals. These can show the mysterious 5-fold symmetry and are orderly enough to diffract so there lyou go. This book is a bit over blown in the sense of adventure and a whole book on the subject tries to put it on a par with the Double Helix and similar science sagas. This story is interesting, but frankly, not that monumental.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    A compelling science story. Steinhardt does a great job explaining both the mathematics he worked on, generalizing Penrose tiles to three dimensions, and the experimental and field mineralogy that that led to, a search to find and understand natural quasicrystals. For me the mineralogy was the most interesting. They first process one meteorite sample, then amazingly they manage to find its source site (it had been sold to a museum from a collector who bought it from a smuggler who took it from a A compelling science story. Steinhardt does a great job explaining both the mathematics he worked on, generalizing Penrose tiles to three dimensions, and the experimental and field mineralogy that that led to, a search to find and understand natural quasicrystals. For me the mineralogy was the most interesting. They first process one meteorite sample, then amazingly they manage to find its source site (it had been sold to a museum from a collector who bought it from a smuggler who took it from a Russian lab), go there, and find more samples! The details of how they process these samples are especially cool; I had no idea what mineralogists actually do, and the amount of time they spent processing these tiny grains was impressive. It is quite difficult, and it seems that they still don't entirely understand the atomic structures. For a science story, there is a fair amount of drama and conflict, from some of his collaborators disagreeing on whether a paper should be published to lost mail. I only wish Steinhardt gave more about the connection between the mathematics and the physical quasicrystals. How do the mathematical tiling models they develop connect to these different atomic arrangements, or do they? Also, I'd like to know more about applications of quasicrystals, and about their artificial synthesis, either by annealing or by shocks. What are the main open problems? Despite these gaps, I think that the parts he does explain are explained well. > "Impossible!" Feynman finally said. I nodded in agreement and smiled, because I knew that to be one of his greatest compliments. He looked back up at the wall, shaking his head. "Absolutely impossible! That is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen." > I developed the first computer-generated continuous random network (CRN) model of glass and amorphous silicon in 1973, the summer before my senior year at Caltech. The model was widely used to predict structural and electronic properties of these materials. In later years, while working with Ronchetti, I developed more sophisticated programs to simulate the rapid cooling and solidification process. > The first and most vociferous critic was two-time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling. Pauling was a towering figure in the scientific community. As one of the founders of quantum chemistry and molecular biology, he was widely regarded as one of the most important chemists of the twentieth century. "There is no such thing as quasicrystals," Pauling liked to joke derisively. "Only quasi-scientists." Pauling proposed that all the peculiar alloys that had been discovered were complex examples of multiple-twinned crystals, > The theoretical breakthrough came with the discovery of an alternative to Penrose’s interlocking rules, which we called "growth rules." They made it possible to add tiles one by one to a pattern without making any mistakes or creating any defects. > In their view, the paper should not be published unless and until we could definitively rule out the possibility that the metallic aluminum alloys were man-made. … I believe that the sample you have been working with is not natural. I feel I am up against a wall of diminishing returns to determine its origin. Lincoln explained that he did not want to continue working with us unless we could somehow find a completely fresh sample from some other source. Glenn's withdrawal from the project was implicit. > The invaluable sample of khatyrkite Luca found tucked away in his museum’s storage room, the unexpected discovery of a natural quasicrystal in the Princeton lab with Nan Yao, the embarrassingly fake samples we discovered in private collections, the untouchable holotype locked away in a St. Petersburg museum, the untrustworthy Russian scientist we tracked down in Israel, the inexplicable mix-up with the famous Allende meteorite, along with endless rounds of inconclusive testing and debate. > The International Mineralogical Association Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification had just voted to accept our quasicrystal as a natural mineral. They also accepted our proposed name: "icosahedrite," a fitting name for the first known mineral with icosahedral symmetry to be entered into the official catalog. > The grains, numbered from #1 to #120, ranged from less than a millimeter to a few millimeters in size. Glenn spent the next two hours reviewing the grains one by one … Glenn reported that in his opinion, none of the grains identified in the field appeared to resemble the original Florence sample. > From that point on, I refused to entrust any delivery service with our Khatyrka samples. Nothing would ever be sent by express mail again, not even international packages to Luca in Italy. > Luca meticulously prepared a proposal for the International Mineralogical Association. This time, however, he chose to hide everything from me. Luca had privately decided to name the new mineral "steinhardtite" in my honor. … While trying to recover more steinhardtite from the microscopic chips of Grain #126, Luca discovered something even better—a second kind of natural quasicrystal … Decagonite is a new mineral, but a familiar substance to quasicrystal experts. A quasicrystal with the same composition and symmetry had been synthesized by An-Pang Tsai and his collaborators in 1989, two years after they had created the world’s first bona fide example of a synthetic quasicrystal. > The shock experiments were now so successful that they began taking on a life of their own. Occasionally, they created quasicrystals and other crystals with compositions that had never been seen before, either in nature or in the lab. That result has led Paul Asimow and me to consider using the gas gun to collide many other combinations of elements together, which will be a new and exciting way to search for new materials. > The discovery of i-phase II represents the completely unanticipated third natural quasicrystal to be found in the Khatyrka meteorite samples. … With the discovery of i-phase II, my dream came true. For me, it is more important than any of the other natural quasicrystals we have discovered because it is the first one found in nature before being synthesized in the laboratory. > The remarkable tiling on the Darb-i Imam shrine in Isfahan, Iran, can be viewed as a quasicrystal tiling composed of three shapes known as girih tiles

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter Gelfan

    First, a couple of comments about the book’s subtitle. The “new” form of matter, far from being new, turns out to be nearly as old as the universe. It was first discovered during the events depicted in the book. More to the point is that its existence proves that one of the long-accepted laws of physics was incorrect. But before you get too excited, unless you are a physicist, you have probably never heard of this law, which pertains to crystalline symmetry. Nevertheless, it’s a terrific story. I First, a couple of comments about the book’s subtitle. The “new” form of matter, far from being new, turns out to be nearly as old as the universe. It was first discovered during the events depicted in the book. More to the point is that its existence proves that one of the long-accepted laws of physics was incorrect. But before you get too excited, unless you are a physicist, you have probably never heard of this law, which pertains to crystalline symmetry. Nevertheless, it’s a terrific story. It features rogue scientists, desperate treks across the Russian wilderness, vicious wild animals huge and tiny, gunplay, cannons, and all sorts of very expensive high-tech gadgets. It’s a suspenseful rollercoaster ride of elation and despair, victory and defeat. It turns out these things are all part of the everyday life of some scientists. And here we thought it was all lab rats and test tubes. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the book besides the physics is the depiction of how science happens and progresses, even for those at the top of their fields: very slowly, against all kinds of necessary opposition. It’s a fun and enlightening read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    JQAdams

    The author here is an eminent cosmologist—holder of the Albert Einstein chair at Princeton—and his previous book naturally focused on creation-of-the-universe questions, so that was what I was expecting going in, knowing pretty much nothing but the author and title. But it turns out that as a side hustle Steinhardt also dabbles in a bit of materials science, particularly regarding quasi-crystals (materials that have quasi-periodic arrangements of atoms rather than the rigidly repeating structure The author here is an eminent cosmologist—holder of the Albert Einstein chair at Princeton—and his previous book naturally focused on creation-of-the-universe questions, so that was what I was expecting going in, knowing pretty much nothing but the author and title. But it turns out that as a side hustle Steinhardt also dabbles in a bit of materials science, particularly regarding quasi-crystals (materials that have quasi-periodic arrangements of atoms rather than the rigidly repeating structures of standard crystals). This is an account, squarely aimed at the general public, of his work along those lines. Since I just bemoaned the state of materials-science popularizations, this seemed like it should have been aimed right at me. And indeed, for the first of the book's three parts, I was more enthusiastic about reading this than I have been about almost any other book I've picked up this year: it focuses on the theory of quasi-crystals, which draws on the recreational mathematics of tiling and manages to bring in everything from different forms of symmetry to echoes in traditional Islamic art. It also has some of the very rare actually useful photographs in a book, illustrating two-and-three dimensional models of quasi-periodicity. As a bonus, it also includes hilariously condescending account of Dan Schectman, the person who actually won a Nobel Prize for quasi-crystal work (2011, Chemistry), who per Steinhardt is a talented microscopist but a plainly inadequate theorist. (Whereas all of Steinhardt's co-workers receive embarrassingly lavish praise. Steinhardt apparently works with a disproportionate number of people with smiles that light up a room, and to go with the actually useful pictures there are a bunch of pointless photographs of random people. Mostly that just emphasizes the gender imbalance of his posse.) The second part of the book turns to Steinhardt's quest to find natural, rather than human-made, quasi-crystals, which eventually turns into a quest to establish the provenance of the key but poorly documented example, from a seemingly unique Russian specimen in the archives of an Italian museum: how did it form? Is it really natural rather than a hoax or a piece of industrial refuse and therefore generated by artificial processes? This part is fine, though increasingly dominated by grumblings about how everyone doubted Steinhardt's work—which seems a little hard to square with the key paper being published in Science, perhaps the single most prestigious scientific journal, with seemingly few problems—even as his every single idea and conjecture is ultimately vindicated. Fortunately, in this telling, Steinhardt is noble and valiant and always seeking out the most skeptical audience because he's such a good scientist. (Okay.) By the end, it's established that the material is from a meteorite. Then, in the third part, Steinhardt goes on an expedition to find more of the meteorite. Which landed in Chuhotka (Steinhardt repeatedly calls it "Kamchatka," but he seems to have just played too much Risk and calls everything in the Russian Far East that). And so the book suddenly, and very self-consciously turns into an adventure story. It is really not obvious why a theoretical physicist felt obliged to go along, and to drag other reluctant colleagues who are not field scientists, but apparently someone casually said to Steinhardt "You're the project leader, you have to go" so he had no choice? But go he does—with more heroic overcoming of doubters, with complete triumph coming at the end (surprise, surprise)—and almost every chapter turns into a cliffhanging serial, with the first few paragraphs recapitulating what happened in the previous chapter even though you just read it. There's also much hyperventilating drama—the bears are so dangerous! One of the two vehicles is a little late, does this mean everyone inside, including the author's son, perished terribly?—that always fizzles out in the least climactic way possible. At least there are finally a couple of women involved, although their contributions are emphasized as including such tasks as "mushroom harvester" and "cook." (And, to be fair, "lawyer who handles Russian bureaucracy," which if not scientific at least seems professional.) I'm not sure if the book really got worse or things were there all along and just wore me down cumulatively. But after finishing the main text and getting to the "About the Author" page, and reading that "Steinhardt continues to challenge conventional thinking and identify new directions ripe for exploration and innovation," it did not surprise me that he was the sort of person who'd frame himself in those faintly embarrassing terms. Four stars for the first part of the book, I guess, but maybe stop once you get to the end of that.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: A narrative of the search for a new form of matter, first theorized, then synthesized, and then first found in a mineral collection of questionable provenance that gave tantalizing hints that it might really exist. This is a real science detective story. It has all the hopeful leads and unsettling reverses of a detective mystery, and one where the lead character, in this case the lead researcher, finds himself in a situation far removed from the normal environs of a theoretical physicist Summary: A narrative of the search for a new form of matter, first theorized, then synthesized, and then first found in a mineral collection of questionable provenance that gave tantalizing hints that it might really exist. This is a real science detective story. It has all the hopeful leads and unsettling reverses of a detective mystery, and one where the lead character, in this case the lead researcher, finds himself in a situation far removed from the normal environs of a theoretical physicist. It begins with the question of whether an impossible five-fold symmetry could be possible under some circumstance.  Then Paul Steinhardt, and a graduate student, Dov Levine,  began began looking for a loophole to the forbidden five-fold symmetry, and found it, suggesting the possibility for something they termed quasi-crystals. Meanwhile, in another lab, a researcher synthesized a compound that turned out to have the predicted electron diffraction pattern. It takes the two labs a couple years to find out about each other but it demonstrates that something that seems impossible can actually exist, hence the title of this book, coming from Richard Feynman's response to a paper by Steinhardt, who had been mentored by him. It was the kind of impossible that defies known knowledge but has an intriguing logic to it. The next phase of Steinhardt's research was to discover whether such a quasi-crystal actually exists in nature--the quest for a needle in a haystack as it were. He and a student comb mineral collections around the world, looking for promising diffraction patterns. They strike out over and over again until they find one sample in an Italian mineral collection administered by Luca Bindi. Part two of this book describes all the tests to confirm that this tiny sample indeed has a quasi-crystal imbedded in it and all the arguments against it. Then another sample is discovered in Russia, but the scientist, a Russian official, will not share it except for an exorbitant price. Furthermore, questions arise about both samples and their provenance--until the field researcher who actually found the material is discovered and agrees to help them find the tiny stream and collect additional samples. The third part of the book is the trip to this stream, in a remote part of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Steinhardt, who has never done this kind of field work, is leader of the team, and against all the improbabilities, the challenges of mosquitoes, weather, bears, and the terrain, they find additional samples, leading to discoveries of other quasi-crystals, and clues to how this material was formed. One of the fascinating qualities of this book was the quest that started with a theoretical question and eventually led to a remote peninsula of Kamchatka. For those not acquainted with the life of a research scientist, this account captures something of the excitement of pursuing a really interesting research question, how one question can lead to another, and the roadblocks and dead ends researchers sometimes encounter along the way. What we realize eventually is that all this takes over thirty years, and involves collaboration with a number of researchers from Russia, Italy, and all over the U.S. It is not the only research Steinhardt works on, but imagine spending most of one's adult working life pursuing a research question. The combination of curiosity and sheer perseverance commands a certain kind of respect. The other fascinating aspect of this book was understanding how research science works. Richard Feynman is not the only one to declare "impossible." Some did so with outright opposition for good scientific reasons. This happens constantly in the submission of research papers and at scientific conferences. Steinhardt enlists his opponents on his research team, forming a "red team" and a "blue team" with opposing views. The opposing teams were good at recommending all the tests that would eliminate alternative possibilities. Eventually the opposition, formidable researchers in their own right, are convinced--but that took years. This is a good book to illustrate the skepticism, the meticulous rigor, and the self-correcting character of scientific research at its best. The other wonderful aspect that arises out of this process is the international collaboration of people willing to share knowledge, samples, and credit, to advance a shared understanding of the world, indeed the universe. In short, this is a great book to see how science really works at its best.  

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex Xiao

    Alex Xiao Freshmen english 5th Mrs.Marek 3/9/20 Impossible? The book The Second Type of Impossible, a non-fiction book written by Paul Steinhart, describes his adventures discovering a new kind of matter-quasicrystals and his continued journey finding natural quasicrystals. Part one of the book is about his discovery of quasicrystals, a crystal with a non-platonic(i.e 4, 6, 8) symmetry. He explains the quasicrystal theory clearly in Chapter Two, where he describes his attempts in making icosahedron b Alex Xiao Freshmen english 5th Mrs.Marek 3/9/20 Impossible? The book The Second Type of Impossible, a non-fiction book written by Paul Steinhart, describes his adventures discovering a new kind of matter-quasicrystals and his continued journey finding natural quasicrystals. Part one of the book is about his discovery of quasicrystals, a crystal with a non-platonic(i.e 4, 6, 8) symmetry. He explains the quasicrystal theory clearly in Chapter Two, where he describes his attempts in making icosahedron based quasicrystal models and his shift in angle as he began delving into the penrose tiling, a tiling with no possible patterns on any scale. After the discovery of Quasicrystals, he details his goose chase across the world to find natural quasicrystals, eventually tracking down the source as the karyakarta meteorite located in the Koryak mountains in russia. Teaming up with Lucas bindi who is an italian museum owner and geologist and possessed a sample of natural quasicrystal and Valery Krachyo who is the discoverer of the sample 60 years ago, they headed out on an mining expedition, finding not only the quasicrystal previously discovered, icosahedrite, but also two new ones, named steinhardtite and decagonite. I believe the book has effectively relayed the message of always striving for the “second type of Impossible”. The second type of impossible is different type of impossible, not the “impossible of the first kind, like 1+1=3,”(Steinhart, 492) but the kind of impossible like “something very unlikely but worth pursuing.”(Steinhart, 492) The book has a tense tone. These tense moments are meant to contrast the exciting part of the book before or after it, so the reader would feel even better when they arrive at the exciting part than they would have otherwise. The suspenseful parts also encourage the reader to read on to find out what happens next. In page 251, The author described his panic as he is swarmed by mosquitos and another vehicle, containing multiple scientists and his son, is nowhere to be found. “Frustration, exhaustion, and panic, laced with a sense of absolute dread. An avalanche of emotions swept over me, unlike anything I had ever experienced before. And where was my son?” His panic and desperation makes the reader feel worried and uneasy. The text effectively gives off tension and suspense. In summary, the book has a relaxed tone, and uses texts effectively to cause fear and tension. In my opinion, this book is great. My favorite part of the book is the journey to Kamchatka and their mining expedition there to get quasicrystals. It gives people feelings of excitement and progression. My least favorite part is the intermediate part featuring his search tracking down the florence sample, a possible candidate for quasicrystals. The progression is slow in this section, and it is filled with complex terms from many fields. I barely understood what they said. However, despite there are some blemishes in the book, I still whole-heartedly recommend this book to you as your next non fiction-book, if you are into science in general.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dinesh Krithivasan

    A riveting read about the author's decades long theoretical and practical quest to unearth quasicrystals - a 3D equivalent of Penrose's famous aperiodic tilings in two dimensions. The initial parts skew more towards crystallography theory where there were some pretty intriguing connections made between quasicrystals and other areas of mathematics. Personally, I would have wished for those sections to be longer but obviously, the book quickly moves on to the 2nd and 3rd parts of the book that rea A riveting read about the author's decades long theoretical and practical quest to unearth quasicrystals - a 3D equivalent of Penrose's famous aperiodic tilings in two dimensions. The initial parts skew more towards crystallography theory where there were some pretty intriguing connections made between quasicrystals and other areas of mathematics. Personally, I would have wished for those sections to be longer but obviously, the book quickly moves on to the 2nd and 3rd parts of the book that read like a thriller novel. Dr. Steinhardt and his team track down the origin of a scrap of long forgotten mineral in a Florence museum that showed the elusive symmetry they were looking for and their journey is filled with colorful characters (Tim the Romanian who peddles in contraband minerals for example :)). In the final section, they actually head to Kamchatka in an attempt to mine the mineral for themselves. The autobiographical nature of the work was a little irksome for me because my (possibly overactive) imagination could always sense a certain bias in the narration (the author's comments on Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman for instance or the claim that multiple highly trained scientists were willing to risk a trip to Kamchatka on a mission that has a less than 0.1% chance of success by their own estimation - all of these might very well be true and I have no reason to believe otherwise but they take on a tinge of grandeur when written in the first person). But this minor nit shouldn't take away from the main thrust of the work which shows the incredible and obsessive extent to which such dedicated scientists go, driven by their curiosities, to expand our knowledge of the world. To sift tens of thousands of grains for days on end through a microscope when weathering an arctic storm in a flimsy tent in a bear-infested desolate corner of the world - there ought to be a word stronger than "love" or "passion" for that!!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fred P

    I'm delighted by this book. The story is well-written and engaging. It's entertaining and informative, and it artfully balances technical and non-technical jargon, making the story accessible to everyone. So what if you thought up an off-the-wall idea when you were a kid, and then you kept working on it as a college student, and as an adult? You might achieve the impossible, or at least, the second kind of impossible. Author Paul J. Steinhardt proposes that there are two kinds of impossible. The I'm delighted by this book. The story is well-written and engaging. It's entertaining and informative, and it artfully balances technical and non-technical jargon, making the story accessible to everyone. So what if you thought up an off-the-wall idea when you were a kid, and then you kept working on it as a college student, and as an adult? You might achieve the impossible, or at least, the second kind of impossible. Author Paul J. Steinhardt proposes that there are two kinds of impossible. The first kind of impossible claim is when a proposal would violate the basic laws of physics. The second kind of impossible is impossible under most circumstances, but in challenging our assumptions we find what's possible under very specific conditions. It has been commonly assumed that only certain regular shapes can completely tile a floor, or fill a three-dimensional space. Things like squares and cubes, rectangles, diamonds, and hexagons. Shapes with five or seven sides cannot possibly tile a floor, or fill a box. Roger Penrose found a tiling pattern that worked if you added two more shapes. Could Steinhardt's team find an example of a real-life Penrose tiling pattern in nature? (view spoiler)[They did, and strangely enough it echoes a tiling pattern from the 15th century. (hide spoiler)] Follow the exciting quest to find a new form of matter, dubbed the quasicrystal. Note: There is some gorgeous geometric art in this book!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Cosmic chemistry, mysterious minerals, and forbidden symmetry? Look no further than Indiana Steinhardt and the Quest for the Lost Quasicrystal! Equal parts “Cosmos” and “Da Vinci Code,” “The Second Kind of Impossible” should rank among the finest science narratives ever scripted. A pure science saga with pop science flair, I consider this book a true trend-setter, for physics aficionados and general readers alike. Steinhardt opens with a passionate blend of crystallography, geometry, and humanity Cosmic chemistry, mysterious minerals, and forbidden symmetry? Look no further than Indiana Steinhardt and the Quest for the Lost Quasicrystal! Equal parts “Cosmos” and “Da Vinci Code,” “The Second Kind of Impossible” should rank among the finest science narratives ever scripted. A pure science saga with pop science flair, I consider this book a true trend-setter, for physics aficionados and general readers alike. Steinhardt opens with a passionate blend of crystallography, geometry, and humanity, sprinkling the revelations of Rene-Just Hauy, the Braggs, and Dalton with the perfect amount of Feynman, creating a stirring picture of discovery and mathematical evolution. Progressing through Penrose tiling, Steinhardt eloquently transitions to his unique research, a thrilling quest to unveil five-fold symmetry, and ultimately, a novel form of matter. The resulting hunt, first for synthetic, then natural quasicrystals has more twists and turns than a mountain stream (or should I say the Listvenitoyi Stream?), where the once in-a-lifetime Khatyrka meteorite paints the tern “impossible” in a whole different light. The cast of characters is rich, and by the final pages, one gains a newfound appreciation of what a daring scientist, creative impulse, and bold intellect can achieve.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rohit Goswami

    I didn't intend to finish this in one setting. I really did not. Not because I am not familiar with the source matter, being as I am a computational chemist with experience in amorphous solids and glassy matter, but because I expected the book to be a bit too sensationalist. Honestly I did enjoy the first third of the book the most. This is probably my own bias. I'm afraid that, to me, the quasi-crystal saga reached its peak with the PRL and subsequent simulations. Finding it in nature and what I didn't intend to finish this in one setting. I really did not. Not because I am not familiar with the source matter, being as I am a computational chemist with experience in amorphous solids and glassy matter, but because I expected the book to be a bit too sensationalist. Honestly I did enjoy the first third of the book the most. This is probably my own bias. I'm afraid that, to me, the quasi-crystal saga reached its peak with the PRL and subsequent simulations. Finding it in nature and what it means for the solar system just doesn't appeal to me. Nevertheless. I would recommend this book, but maybe not all of it. The latter part of the book describes a kind of science, which, is popular and eye-catching, but basically out of reach for most people. There are no "Dave's" in most people's lives, and there will never be an opportunity to collaborate with so many luminaries. Given that, I do personally feel like the second part of the book was mostly brought about by his work during the first part, which I would have liked to read more of.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Abhinav Gupta

    The Second Kind of Impossible My B.Tech. was in Engineering Physics, yet till I read this book - I only imagined process of academic research to be a solitary endeavor that is done either in a lab somewhere or in front of computer screen. This book shatters that myth, as it tells the fascinating adventure that went behind discovery of Quasi-crystals. The science and math behind this new phase of 'impossible' matter - is absolutely fantastic in itself. But, the story of how it happened is no less t The Second Kind of Impossible My B.Tech. was in Engineering Physics, yet till I read this book - I only imagined process of academic research to be a solitary endeavor that is done either in a lab somewhere or in front of computer screen. This book shatters that myth, as it tells the fascinating adventure that went behind discovery of Quasi-crystals. The science and math behind this new phase of 'impossible' matter - is absolutely fantastic in itself. But, the story of how it happened is no less than a detective thriller - it spans continents and ages, consists of fascinating characters such as noble prize winning scientists, smugglers, pilfering mineral collectors, KGB threats, expeditions to the remote mountains of Russian Tundra - ultimately revealing mysteries of universe, formation of solar system and fundamentals of matter. Ultimately it is a clarion call to researchers and academics to chase 'impossible' rather than take safe bets. I being an entrepreneur read it as as an inspiring tale to do whatever it takes to make your dreams happen.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    The Second Kind of Impossible by Paul Steinhardt chronicles the thirty-five year journey he took, with many collaborators, to conceive of and prove the existence of a particular form of matter long thought to be impossible. Named quasicrystals, they violated long-held laws of crystallography that forbid its existence. Although I understand why it was necessary, the book is light on the science in order to make it more palatable. Furthermore, crystallography and apparently obscure forms of matter The Second Kind of Impossible by Paul Steinhardt chronicles the thirty-five year journey he took, with many collaborators, to conceive of and prove the existence of a particular form of matter long thought to be impossible. Named quasicrystals, they violated long-held laws of crystallography that forbid its existence. Although I understand why it was necessary, the book is light on the science in order to make it more palatable. Furthermore, crystallography and apparently obscure forms of matter are subjects too far removed from general interest for most to fully appreciate the weight of everything. I have some background in these topics so I would've liked more details. As a result, there is a heavier focus on the story - which, to be fair, is full of exciting twists and turns and goes places you wouldn't expect. The book also manages to convey a sense of what academic research can be like, and how much time and work really goes into the flashy headlines that most people only see. I wasn't interested or invested enough in the book and story to rate it higher, but I still found quasicrystals fascinating. Their X-ray diffraction patterns are quite beautiful!

  23. 4 out of 5

    K De

    Paul Steinhardt writes about what is possible when confronted with conventional views of the impossible. He is a theoretical physicist that stumbled on using shapes and patterns that challenged the view of what is possible for matter in the physical world. It is a thirty five year quest to find these new forms of matter which would occur naturally rather than in a laboratory setting. The writing is clear and concise for the lay reader. Tirst half of the work is devoted to the theory and finding Paul Steinhardt writes about what is possible when confronted with conventional views of the impossible. He is a theoretical physicist that stumbled on using shapes and patterns that challenged the view of what is possible for matter in the physical world. It is a thirty five year quest to find these new forms of matter which would occur naturally rather than in a laboratory setting. The writing is clear and concise for the lay reader. Tirst half of the work is devoted to the theory and finding samples in collections and museums throughout the world. the second half of hte work is deovted to the author's adventure in Russia to seek evidence in the real world. The real world evidence is in the formation of the solar system and matter in the form of quasicrystals buried in meteorites four and one half billion years old. The book's title is a homage to Richard Feynmann. Highly recommended

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Physicist Steinhardt recounts his 30-year quest to find examples in the natural world of a kind of crystal that was deemed impossible, when he first imagined it. Inspired by Richard Feynman's comment that his idea was "the second kind of impossible" -- "something amazing that contradicts what we would normally expect to be true" and "worth understanding," [12] Steinhardt embarked on a decades long investigation of quasicrystals with previously forbidden lines of symmetry. He amassed a dedicated t Physicist Steinhardt recounts his 30-year quest to find examples in the natural world of a kind of crystal that was deemed impossible, when he first imagined it. Inspired by Richard Feynman's comment that his idea was "the second kind of impossible" -- "something amazing that contradicts what we would normally expect to be true" and "worth understanding," [12] Steinhardt embarked on a decades long investigation of quasicrystals with previously forbidden lines of symmetry. He amassed a dedicated team with varied opinions, skills, and interests and eventually traveled to Kamchatka in Siberia to find his samples. What is most amazing, is that he explains this abstruse research in a way that makes it completely understandable, and a grand, suspenseful adventure. And the tiling pictures are beautiful!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gialamas

    I am rating this book based only on the first 2 chapters, because I‘m not sure that I‘ll continue reading it. So far, I just can‘t focus on the scientific part, because the author‘s style of writing is very annoying. Basically, he keeps repeating how amazing he is and how much interest his research attracts. And the number one annoying thing is that, over and over again, he keeps talking about how he impresses the noble price winner in physics Mr. Feynman. Like, we got it dude. You are amazing an I am rating this book based only on the first 2 chapters, because I‘m not sure that I‘ll continue reading it. So far, I just can‘t focus on the scientific part, because the author‘s style of writing is very annoying. Basically, he keeps repeating how amazing he is and how much interest his research attracts. And the number one annoying thing is that, over and over again, he keeps talking about how he impresses the noble price winner in physics Mr. Feynman. Like, we got it dude. You are amazing and highly intelligent. Basically, the first 2 chapters are only about how cool he is. I would have appreciated the book (so far) much more if the author could have skipped this „I‘m supercool“ part and focused only on the science. I am very interested in the topic and will try to read further, but if he keeps bragging, I just won‘t make it to the end.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bud Hewlett

    I have to admit that I'm a "stargazer". I pay special attention to how books are rated on Amazon. In the case of this book, I need to thank the first 15 reviewers on Amazon who all gave it 5 stars and wrote glowingly about how great it was. I'm certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but my curiosity exceeds my intellect so I frequently end up reading books like this that are over my head. But Dr. Steinhardt did a masterful job of explaining the math, chemistry, and physics that he was d I have to admit that I'm a "stargazer". I pay special attention to how books are rated on Amazon. In the case of this book, I need to thank the first 15 reviewers on Amazon who all gave it 5 stars and wrote glowingly about how great it was. I'm certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but my curiosity exceeds my intellect so I frequently end up reading books like this that are over my head. But Dr. Steinhardt did a masterful job of explaining the math, chemistry, and physics that he was describing and when I finished the book I felt like I had understood pretty much everything he had talked about. The first four chapters were amazing! If you like science (and are unfamiliar with Penrose Tiles) and like great detective stories, READ THIS BOOK!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Carrabis

    Imagine Dan Brown wanting to write a science/techno thriller like Michael Crichton’s. Now imagine he doesn’t have the science chops to do it. Now imagine he wants to keep you excited in the story by dropping names and ideas all over the place, but he’s not sure which ones to use or why. What’s sad is that Steinhardt has the science chops, they’re not demonstrated here, and he doesn’t have the writing chops to pull it off (I never felt any excitement or awe, only “can we please get on with it?”). Imagine Dan Brown wanting to write a science/techno thriller like Michael Crichton’s. Now imagine he doesn’t have the science chops to do it. Now imagine he wants to keep you excited in the story by dropping names and ideas all over the place, but he’s not sure which ones to use or why. What’s sad is that Steinhardt has the science chops, they’re not demonstrated here, and he doesn’t have the writing chops to pull it off (I never felt any excitement or awe, only “can we please get on with it?”). The entire 364 pages could have been a good Letter in a science journal such as Science or Nature.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Chia

    I'm probably incredibly biased because I'm a geologist, but this book definitely makes my list of Awesome Science Books. It marries geology, theoretical physics, cosmology and a bit of adventure across international borders - basically, cool shit worth reading about! Fret not if you have zero background in science, however - Steinhardt is well aware he's writing to a general audience, and explains all the concepts as accessibly as possible (don't know what an isotope is? Don't worry, he explains I'm probably incredibly biased because I'm a geologist, but this book definitely makes my list of Awesome Science Books. It marries geology, theoretical physics, cosmology and a bit of adventure across international borders - basically, cool shit worth reading about! Fret not if you have zero background in science, however - Steinhardt is well aware he's writing to a general audience, and explains all the concepts as accessibly as possible (don't know what an isotope is? Don't worry, he explains that). The really complicated stuff is all at the very end, when he discusses implications, theories, future studies, etc. of the discovery of quasicrystals. Anyhow, I do wish more professors with careers as prolific / academically fruitful as Steinhardt's would publish their own novels of their journeys of groundbreaking scientific discovery.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Meteorites, "impossible" minerals, "impossible" crystal structures and a nearly "impossible" detective search through many years to find the tiniest specks to finally prove the science Steinhardt developed in the early 1980s. The science is well explained and illustrated, and there's plenty of adventure including a mistrustful widow guarding her late husband's "secret" secret dealer's notebook, alerts for Kamchatka brown bears, and the constant frustration of broken equipment. Well written and e Meteorites, "impossible" minerals, "impossible" crystal structures and a nearly "impossible" detective search through many years to find the tiniest specks to finally prove the science Steinhardt developed in the early 1980s. The science is well explained and illustrated, and there's plenty of adventure including a mistrustful widow guarding her late husband's "secret" secret dealer's notebook, alerts for Kamchatka brown bears, and the constant frustration of broken equipment. Well written and entertaining.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gordon

    Warning! You might have to be a scientist, physicist, geologist or mineralogist to read and enjoy this book. Regardless, it is a story worth telling and well told. It is the true story of the multi-decade search for a conceivable, theoretically stable crystal (called “quasicrystal) that until it was found in nature (or at least that nature” brought by meteors) was considered impossible and non-existent. This has real implications for new materials that may promise to have extremely useful charac Warning! You might have to be a scientist, physicist, geologist or mineralogist to read and enjoy this book. Regardless, it is a story worth telling and well told. It is the true story of the multi-decade search for a conceivable, theoretically stable crystal (called “quasicrystal) that until it was found in nature (or at least that nature” brought by meteors) was considered impossible and non-existent. This has real implications for new materials that may promise to have extremely useful characteristics and multiple applications.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.