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Kids' Q&A


Original Essays | September 17, 2014

Merritt Tierce: IMG Has My Husband Read It?

My first novel, Love Me Back, was published on September 16. Writing the book took seven years, and along the way three chapters were published in... Continue »
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    Love Me Back

    Merritt Tierce 9780385538077

Powell's Q&A | September 3, 2014

Emily St. John Mandel: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Emily St. John Mandel

Describe your latest book. My new novel is called Station Eleven. It's about a traveling Shakespearean theatre company in a post-apocalyptic North... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Station Eleven

    Emily St. John Mandel 9780385353304


Tech Q&A

Alex Vilenkin

Describe your latest project.
My latest research project is concerned with the exotic objects called cosmic strings, which are predicted in some theories of particle physics. Strings are very thin and long tubes of superheavy matter. Their thickness is a tiny fraction of a centimeter, but they can weigh as much as 100 trillion tons per yard. Strings could be formed in the hot early universe shortly after the big bang and may still twist around in the remote parts of the cosmos. I am investigating possible ways of detecting cosmic strings. My latest calculations suggest that the most promising method is to look for gravitational waves emitted by vibrating string loops. This method will be used in the upcoming cosmic string search with the gravitational wave detector LIGO.

What inspires you to sit down and write?
I reach clarity in the process of writing things down. When I am trying to understand something and feel that I am getting close, I am compelled to sit down and write.

Have you ever taken the Geek Test? How did you rate?
No, but I did after you asked. Embarrassingly, my geek score is very low: 25%. The verdict I got is that I am "not geeky at all" and "may even have a girlfriend."

Chess or video games?
Neither. I used to play chess as a child, but now I feel no need for mental gymnastics: I do physics research, instead.

What was your favorite book as a kid?
The Golden Key or Adventures of Buratino by Alexei Tolstoy. This is a very popular Russian adaptation of Pinocchio. (The name Buratino is derived from the Italian burratino, which means puppet.)

What was your best subject in high school? Your worst?
My best subject was physics, my worst "scientific communism." (I lived in the Soviet Union where all subjects were mandatory.)

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