Leonard Mlodinow

Leonard Mlodinow

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Leonard Mlodinow is a physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

 and author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

.

Mlodinow was born in Chicago, Illinois, of parents who were both Holocaust survivors. His father, who spent more than a year in the Buchenwald concentration camp, had been a leader in the Jewish resistance under Nazi rule in his hometown of Częstochowa
Czestochowa
Częstochowa is a city in south Poland on the Warta River with 240,027 inhabitants . It has been situated in the Silesian Voivodeship since 1999, and was previously the capital of Częstochowa Voivodeship...

, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

. As a child, Mlodinow was interested in both mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 and chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, and while in high school was tutored in organic chemistry
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

 by a professor from the University of Illinois.

As recounted in his book, Feynman's Rainbow, his interest turned to physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 during a semester he took off from college to spend on a kibbutz
Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

 in Israel, during which he had little to do at night beside reading The Feynman Lectures on Physics
The Feynman Lectures on Physics
The Feynman Lectures on Physics is a 1964 physics textbook by Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands, based upon the lectures given by Feynman to undergraduate students at the California Institute of Technology in 1961–63. It includes lectures on mathematics, electromagnetism,...

, which was one of the few English books he found in the kibbutz library.

While a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

, and on the faculty at Caltech, he developed (with N. Papanicolaou) a new type of perturbation theory
Perturbation theory (quantum mechanics)
In quantum mechanics, perturbation theory is a set of approximation schemes directly related to mathematical perturbation for describing a complicated quantum system in terms of a simpler one. The idea is to start with a simple system for which a mathematical solution is known, and add an...

 for eigenvalue problems in quantum mechanics. Later, as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysik
Max Planck Institute for Physics
Max Planck Institute for Physics is a physics institute in Munich, Germany that specializes in High Energy Physics and Astroparticle physics. It is part of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft and is also known as the Werner Heisenberg Institute, after its first director.It was founded as the Kaiser Wilhelm...

 in Munich, Germany, he did pioneering work (with M. Hillery) on the quantum theory
Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

 of dielectric media.

Apart from his research and books on popular science
Popular science
Popular science, sometimes called literature of science, is interpretation of science intended for a general audience. While science journalism focuses on recent scientific developments, popular science is broad-ranging, often written by scientists as well as journalists, and is presented in many...

, he also wrote the screenplay for the film Beyond the Horizon (currently in production) and has been a screenwriter
Screenwriter
Screenwriters or scriptwriters or scenario writers are people who write/create the short or feature-length screenplays from which mass media such as films, television programs, Comics or video games are based.-Profession:...

 for television series, including Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry as part of the Star Trek franchise. Roddenberry, Rick Berman, and Michael Piller served as executive producers at different times throughout the production...

and MacGyver
MacGyver
MacGyver is an American action-adventure television series created by Lee David Zlotoff. Henry Winkler and John Rich were the executive producers. The show ran for seven seasons on ABC in the United States and various other networks abroad from 1985 to 1992. The series was filmed in Los Angeles...

. He co-authored (with Matt Costello
Matthew J. Costello
Matthew J. Costello is the author or coauthor of numerous novels and nonfiction works. His articles have appeared in publications including the Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated. He scripted Trilobyte's bestselling CD-ROM interactive dramas The 7th Guest and its sequel The 11th Hour, as...

) a children's chapter book series entitled The Kids of Einstein Elementary.

Between 2008 and 2010, Mlodinow worked on a book with Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

, entitled The Grand Design
The Grand Design (book)
The Grand Design is a popular-science book written by physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow and published by Bantam Books in 2010. It argues that invoking God is not necessary to explain the origins of the universe, and that the Big Bang is a consequence of the laws of physics alone...

. A step beyond Hawking's other titles, The Grand Design is said to explore both the question of the existence of the universe and the issue of why the laws of physics are what they are.

Works

  • The Kids of Einstein Elementary: The Last Dinosaur, co-authored with Matt Costello and Josh Nash (2004) (ISBN 0-439-53773-8)
  • The Kids of Einstein Elementary: Titanic Cat, co-authored with Matt Costello and Josh Nash (2004) (ISBN 0-439-53774-6)
  • Euclid's Window: the Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace (ISBN 0-684-86523-8) is a work on popular science that chronicles the idea of curved space and the history of geometry. It proved a popular success and has now been translated into ten languages.
  • Feynman's Rainbow: a Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life (as published in USA) (ISBN 0-446-53045-X), is about his relationship with Richard Feynman, during his post-doctoral years in Caltech, in the early eighties. The book offers an insight into Feynman's attitude towards physics and life, his relationship with Murray Gell-Mann and the rise of String Theory.
  • A Briefer History of Time
    A Briefer History of Time (Hawking and Mlodinow book)
    A Briefer History of Time is a popular-science book published in 2005 from the English physicist Stephen Hawking and the American physicist Leonard Mlodinow. It is an update and rewrite of Hawking's 1988 A Brief History of Time...

    (ISBN 0-553-80436-7), with Stephen Hawking
    Stephen Hawking
    Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

    , an international best-seller that has appeared in 25 languages.
  • The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives (ISBN 0-375-42404-0) deals with randomness
    Random walk
    A random walk, sometimes denoted RW, is a mathematical formalisation of a trajectory that consists of taking successive random steps. For example, the path traced by a molecule as it travels in a liquid or a gas, the search path of a foraging animal, the price of a fluctuating stock and the...

     and people's inability to take it into account in their daily lives. The book was a bestseller, and a "NY Times notable book of the year" and was named "one of the 10 best science books of 2008" on Amazon.com.
  • The Grand Design
    The Grand Design (book)
    The Grand Design is a popular-science book written by physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow and published by Bantam Books in 2010. It argues that invoking God is not necessary to explain the origins of the universe, and that the Big Bang is a consequence of the laws of physics alone...

    (ISBN 0-553-80537-1) with Stephen Hawking. It argues that invoking God is not necessary to explain the origins of the universe and became a #1 New York Times bestseller.
  • The War of the Worldviews (ISBN 978-0-30-788688-0) with Deepak Chopra. From their contrasting scientific and spiritual perspectives, the two authors answer the big questions about the universe, consciousness, life, and God.

External links