Prof. Paul J. Steinhardt
Department of Physics
Director, Princeton Center for Theoretical Science
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 of Astrophysical Sciences. He co-founded the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science, and is currently Director of that prestigious research institution.
Steinhardt's research is unusually diverse, spanning problems in particle physics, astrophysics, cosmology, condensed matter physics and geoscience. He is well known as one of the original architects of the inflationary model of the universe, having constructed the first viable models and having shown how inflation can generate nearly scale-invariant density variations (recently confirmed by observation); he was also the first to show that quantum fluctuations make inflation eternal, which ultimately leads to a multiverse. Steinhardt later co-developed the “cyclic model” of the universe, which is now considered the leading rival to big bang/inflationary cosmology; it generates a similar spectrum of density variations as inflation, but most importantly avoids a multiverse. He is also known for his work on dark energy and dark matter, including theories of ``quintessence'' and self-interacting dark matter (SIDM). In 1983, Steinhardt invented the theoretical concept of quasicrystals with his student Dov Levine, and has subsequently worked to illuminate many of their unique physical and mathematical properties. In 2009, Steinhardt organized a team that discovered the first natural quasicrystal in a museum sample in Florence, and then established its origin by leading an expanded team on a geological expedition to the Kamchatka Peninsula in 2011. He is also a co-inventor of the first three-dimensional icosahedral photonic quasicrystal, along with a new class of photonic materials called hyperuniform disordered solids (HUDS).
Steinhardt is a Fellow in the American Physical Society and the National Academy of Sciences and received the P.A.M. Dirac Medal from the ICPT in 2002. He is also the recipient of the 2010 Oliver E. Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society; the 2012 John Scott Award; and the Caltech Distinguished Alumnus Prize in 2014. In 2018, he and Italian geologist Luca Bindi shared the Aspen Prize for their discovery of the first natural quasicrystals. He is co-author of the popular book on cosmology -- Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang (2007) and the forthcoming popular account of the discovery of natural quasicrystals -- The Second Kind of Impossible: The Extraordinary Quest for a New Form of Matter -- to appear in January 2019. He has a B.S. in Physics from Caltech, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University.
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