Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World

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Macmillan, May 12, 2009 - Science - 266 pages
2 Reviews

This is the story of wunderkind physicist Jan Hendrik Schön who faked the discovery of a new superconductor made from plastic. A star researcher at the world-renowned Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, he claimed to have stumbled across a powerful method for making carbon-based crystals into transistors, the switches found on computer chips. Had his experiments worked, they would have paved the way for huge advances in technology--computer chips that we could stick on a dress or eyewear, or even use to make electronic screens as thin and easy-to-fold as sheets of paper.

But as other researchers tried to recreate Schön's experiments, the scientific community learned that it had been duped. Why did so many top experts, including Nobel prize-winners, support Schön? What led the major scientific journals to publish his work, and promote it with press releases? And what drove Schön, by all accounts a mild-mannered, modest and obliging young man, to tell such outrageous lies?


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Review: Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World

User Review  - Ropila - Goodreads

This book freaked me out--I knew all these people at Bell Labs, except for Hendrik Schoen. It's amazing what the drive to succeed will drive people to do; I would have liked a little more about the psychology of Schoen. Read full review


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About the author (2009)

Eugenie Samuel Reich is a former editor at New Scientist. She has written for Nature, New Scientist, and The Boston Globe, and is known for her hard hitting reports on irregular science. Several of her reports have resulted in institutional investigations. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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