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

Author: Paul Steinhardt, the Albert Einstein Professor in Science and professor of physics

A hand holding children's blocks

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, January 2019

It begins with a curious geometric pattern that inspires two theoretical physicists to propose a radically new type of matter, called a quasicrystal, that violates laws set in stone for centuries. Steinhardt’s scientific odyssey sets out to prove that nature created 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 firsthand account is an engaging scientific thriller.