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Original Essays | June 20, 2014 1 comment
It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »
Leonard MlodinowDescribe your latest project.
My new book is called The Drunkard's Walk. In it I show how an understanding of randomness reveals a tremendous amount about our daily lives, and discuss the psychological illusions that cause us to misjudge the effects of randomness in the world around us. Successes and failures, for example, are often attributed to clear and obvious causes, when in actuality they are more profoundly influenced by chance. In The Drunkard's Walk I talk about why the rise and fall of movie stars or of the most famed or reviled CEO in fact, of all our destinies reflect chance as much as planning and innate abilities. I show why even the legendary Roger Maris, who beat Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, was in all likelihood not great but just lucky, and how it could have happened that a wine was given five out of five stars, the highest rating, in one journal, and in another could be called the worst wine of the decade. From wine ratings to school grades to political polls, my aim is to change the way people view their lives, and the world around them.
My next book after that will be The Grand Design, co-authored with Stephen Hawking. Why is the universe the way it is? Why is there a universe at all? The Grand Design is meant as a sequel to A Brief History of Time. It contains a discussion of the remarkable discoveries and observations that have been made since A Brief History, but its main purpose is to explore the existence and meaning of a Grand Design for the universe.
Whether it's fiction or nonfiction, writing takes me to another world. It's like going to see a movie. I enjoy it. Theoretical physics research does the same thing, by the way, which sounds weird, I think, but I find that I end up having adventures in some abstract world of ideas, and forget the "real world" for hours on end. Maybe I just like escapism.
Describe your favorite childhood teacher and how that teacher influenced you.
Chess or video games?
What do you do for relaxation?
What was your favorite book as a kid?
What new technology do you think may actually have the potential for making people's lives better?
If you could be reincarnated for one day to live the life of any scientist or writer, who would you choose and why?
What was your best subject in high school? Your worst?
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Leonard Mlodinow received his doctorate in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, was an Alexander von Humboldt fellow at the Max Planck Institute, and now teaches about randomness to future scientists at Caltech. Along the way he also wrote for the television series MacGyver and Star Trek: The Next Generation. His previous books include Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace, Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life, and, with Stephen Hawking, A Briefer History of Time. He lives in South Pasadena, California.