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Plastic Fantastic

How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World

Eugenie Samuel Reich

St. Martin's Griffin

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ISBN10: 0230623840
ISBN13: 9780230623842


272 Pages



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Financial Times Book of the Year: "A brilliant study of scientific fraud."

New Scientist Book of the Year

Physics World Book of the Year: "Top-notch stuff"

Highly regarded science journalist Eugenie Samuel Reich recounts the case of wunderkind physicist Jan Hendrik Schön, who faked the discovery of a new superconductor at the world famous Bell Laboratories. Many of the world's top scientific journals and experts, including Nobel Prize-Winners, supported Schön, only to learn that they were the victims of the biggest fraud in science. What drove Schön, by all accounts a mild-mannered, modest, and obliging young man, to tell such outrageous lies? Reich dives into the riveting world of science to examine how fraud perpetuates itself today. Schön's rise and fall will be an essential and fascinating account of the missteps of the scientific community for years to come.


Praise for Plastic Fantastic

"Reich's account is meticulously researched, based on interviews with over 120 scientists, friends and editors. It is gripping stuff: a surprising page-turner that is well worth reading."—New Scientist (books of the year)

"Plastic Fantastic offers a compelling, timely and well-written dissection of our era's most outrageous scientific fraud, and of what it means for science today."—American Scientist Magazine

"Reich's readable account of a fairly recent science fraud, is valuable chiefly as a close look at the 'kitchen' where scientific results are assembled and validated—and whence occasionally comes forth something that should not have seen the light of day."—John Derbyshire, The Wall Street Journal

"Reich pursues this affair in depth . . . does an excellent job of dealing with the facts of the Schön case"—Martin Blume, Nature

"Eugenie Samuel Reich offers an inside look into how the scientific establishment deals with human imperfection. Plastic Fantastic is a transfixing cautionary tale of how easily wrongdoers can hide and thrive in modern science." —Jörg Blech, author of Inventing Disease and Pushing Pills

"In a warts 'n all expose of the scientific process, Eugenie Reich investigates the world's greatest scientific fraud. Fascinating, startling and highly readable. If you thought science was as pure as the driven snow, prepare to be shocked." —Justin Mullins, consultant editor, New Scientist

"A riveting tale of scientific detective work, and a story about an important issue in science that is often overlooked. A well researched page-turner." —Amir Aczel, author of Fermat's Last Theorem

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Eugenie Samuel Reich

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, MA.

Eugenie Samuel Reich

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