By Eugenie Samuel Reich

ISBN-10: 0230224679

ISBN-13: 9780230224674

This is the story of wunderkind physicist Jan Hendrik Schön who faked the invention of a brand new superconductor made from plastic. a celeb researcher on the world-renowned Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, he claimed to have stumbled throughout a robust strategy for making carbon-based crystals into transistors, the switches chanced on on desktop chips. Had his experiments labored, they'd have cleared the path for enormous advances in technology--computer chips that lets stick on a costume or eyewear, or maybe use to make digital monitors as skinny and easy-to-fold as sheets of paper.

But as different researchers attempted to recreate Schön's experiments, the medical group discovered that it have been duped. Why did such a lot of best specialists, together with Nobel prize-winners, aid Schön? What led the most important clinical journals to submit his paintings, and put up for sale with press releases? And what drove Schön, by way of all bills a mild-mannered, modest and obliging younger guy, to inform such outrageous lies?

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

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In 1988, the physics department moved into a new building overlooking tree canopies on the edge of the campus. Because the building was not designed to hold Bucher’s industrial-scale machinery for making and testing solar cells, his lab was left behind in two inauspicious but roomy structures some way down the hill from the main university campus. When Bucher tried to create a permanent position for Christian Kloc, whom he had hired as a research scientist, other faculty opposed the move. The physics department chairman Wolfgang Dieterich explained that Kloc was highly regarded, but other faculty members were concerned that too many permanent positions in labs would reduce the number of temporary HENDRIK 33 positions available for PhD students to mature into after graduation.

As research scientists who acted as lab mentors did not have permanent positions, they sometimes lacked authority. Bucher said that he assumed that Hendrik Schön, along with other students, received enough help and advice from older students. But there was no hands-on supervisor double-checking Schön’s PhD work. In addition, several former lab members didn’t see this as necessary. Bucher’s lab was engaged in technology development. It was rare for there to be a sudden groundbreaking discovery that called for urgent double-checking.

2 HENDRIK Academic priorities were always important to Jan Hendrik Schön and his family. When a colleague once asked Schön about his background, he replied that he was German, and that when his mother had married an Austrian man and moved away, he had gone to live with his grandmother so that his schooling would not be interrupted. At the age of sixteen, town records show, he relocated too, joining his mother and stepfather with his brother in the Austrian Alps. They lived in Feldkirch, not far from the three-way border between Austria, Switzerland, and the principality of Liechtenstein.

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Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World by Eugenie Samuel Reich

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