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Paul Steinhardt

2012.02.21 paul steinhardt
Science for Geeks series

Quasicrystal - Greetings from Outerspace

February 21, 2012 | 20:00

Dr. Paul Steinhardt, a professor of theoretical physics at Princeton University, discussed quasicrystals, an organizational form of matter that has changed the traditional understanding of crystals.

At the Digital October center, as part of the Knowledge Stream project and with support of Scientific American magazine, an extremely interesting lecture by Paul Steinhardt took place.  Paul Steinhardht is a Princeton professor of Theoretical Physics who coined the term "quasicrystal" and discovered the structure's extraterrestrial origin.

Professor Steinhardt told the audience about quasicrystals, an organizational form of matter, which had changed the traditional understanding about crystals.  Real models of quasicrystals are already flew to us: you could see them and even touch them! For the more daring attendees, Professor Steinhardt prepared a couple of tasks. So you could try to create a quasicrystal model with your own two hands.

Quasicrystals possess a symmetry unlike that of usual crystals with a periodic structure.  Although a theory pertaining to the existence of ordered but aperiodic structures had been described as early as the 1980s, the first naturally occurring quasicrystal was only discovered in 2009 in minerals collected from from the Koryak Plateau in the Chukotka region.  In the summer of 2011, Paul Steinhardt together with the Russian geologist Valery Kryachko and a mineralogist from Florence, Luca Bindi, made an expedition to Chukotka and extracted samples of minerals with quasicrystals and concluded  that this mineral was the remainder of a meteorite

Paul Steinhardt is a professor of Theoretical Physics at Princeton University, he is a Fellow in the American Physical Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences as well as the recipient of the P.A.M. Dirac Medal and the Oliver Buckley Prize. Professor Steinhardt is best known for his work in theoretical cosmology and helped develop the theory of cosmic inflation, which explains the homogeneity and symmetry of the universe and the origin of the fluctuations that triggered the emergence of galaxies and the large-scale structure. Professor Steinhardt also works with condensed matter physics; recently he helped to develop a photonic quasicrystal for efficiently trapping and manipulating light in selected wavebands. A full biography of Professor Steinhardt in English can be read at Princeton website.


  • Strebkov

    Dmitry Strebkov

    academician at the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences and at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, professor, PhD in Technology Sciences

  • Kryachko

    Valery Kryachko

    geologist, who accompanied Paul Steinhardt on his expedition to Chukotka

  • Vekilov ks

    Yuri Vekilov

    professor, Head of Department of Theoretical Physics at Moscow State Institute of Steel and Alloys

  • Urusov

    Vadim Urusov

    PhD in Chemical Sciences, academician at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Head of the Department of Crystallography and Crystal Chemistry of the Geological Faculty at Moscow State University

  • Petoukhov ks

    Sergei Petukhov

    PhD in Physics and Mathematical Sciences, PhD in Biology, Director of the Laboratory of Biomechanical Systems at the Institute of Mechanical Engineering at the Russian Academy of Sciences

  • Reshetov

    Vladimir Reshetov

    scientific observer of Scientific American magazine

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