Paul J. Steinhardt is the Albert Einstein Professor in Science and Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University, where he is also on the faculty of both the Department of Physics and the Department of Astrophysical Sciences. He received his B.S. in Physics at Caltech in 1974; his M.A. in Physics in 1975 and Ph.D. in Physics in 1978 at Harvard University. He was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows from 1978-81 and on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania from 1981-98, where he was Mary Amanda Wood Professor from 1989-98. He is a Fellow in the American Physical Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He shared the P.A.M. Dirac Medal from the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in 2002 for his role as one of the architects of the inflationary model of the universe; the Oliver E. Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society in 2010 for his contribution to the theory of quasicrystals; and the John Scott Award in 2012 for his work on quasicrystals, including the discovery of the first natural quasicrystal. In 2012, he was named Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics; Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard; and Moore Fellow at Caltech. In 2014, he was named a Caltech Distinguished Alumnus. He is the author of over 200 refereed articles, 100 reviews and popular articles, nine patents, three patents pending, three technical books, numerous popular articles, and, in 2007, co-authored Endless Universe: The Big Bang and Beyond, a popular book on contemporary theories of cosmology. He is one of the co-discoverers of icosahedrite, the first natural quasicrystal, and, in 2011, led a successful geological expedition to Chukotka in Far Eastern Russia to find new information about its origin and retrieve more samples. In 2014, the International Mineralogical Association officially accepted another new mineral (a metallic mixture of aluminum, iron and nickel) into the official catalogue of natural minerals and named it "steinhardtite."
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Prof. Paul J. Steinhardt
Department of Physics
Director, Princeton Center for Theoretical Science
Steinhardt's research spans problems in particle physics, astrophysics, cosmology and condensed matter physics. He is one of the architects of the inflationary model, an important modification of the standard big bang picture that explains the large-scale homogeneity, geometry and structure of the universe. He introduced the concept of ``quintessence,'' a dynamical form of dark energy that may account for the recently discovered cosmic acceleration. He has also explored novel models for dark matter. Recently, Steinhardt and Neil Turok (Cambridge U.) proposed the ``cyclic model," a radical alternative to big bang/inflationary cosmology in which the evolution of the universe is periodic and the key events shaping the large scale structure of the universe occur before the big bang.
In condensed matter physics, Steinhardt and Dov Levine (Technion) introduced the concept of quasicrystals, a new phase of solid matter with disallowed crystallographic symmetries; and Steinhardt has continued to make contributions to understanding their unique mathematical and physical properties. In a geological application, he conducted a decade-long search for a natural quasicrystal that recently culminated in discovery of the first example embedded in a rock found in a remote region of the Kamchatka peninsula. A major spin-off has been in developing new types of photonics solids for efficiently trapping and manipulating light. Steinhardt worked with Weining Man (Princeton) and Paul Chaikin (NYU) to construct the first three-dimensional icosahedral photonic quasicrystal; and, with Salvatore Torquato and Marian Florescu (Princeton), he has invented a new types of photonic solids ("hyperuniform disordered solids (HUDS) ") that have a complete photonic band gap despite the fact it is isotropic and disordered.