Mlodinow, Leonard 1954-
MLODINOW, Leonard 1954-
Home—1970 La France Ave., South Pasadena, CA 91030.
Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Lines to Hyperspace, Free Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Author of episodes of television series, including "Hell Week," MacGyver, American Broadcasting Company, 1987; "Shield of Honor," Hunter, National Broadcasting Company, 1989; "The Dauphin," Star Trek: The Next Generation, Paramount Television, 1989.
Leonard Mlodinow took a slightly circular route from holding a post-doctoral fellowship in physics at CalTech to writing popular science books for lay audiences. Along the way he spent some time in Hollywood, writing for television sitcoms and such marginally physics-friendly shows as MacGyver and Star Trek: The Next Generation. But though it took almost twenty years, Mlodinow did return to the science and scientists he was inspired by as a young scholar.
In 2001 Mlodinow published Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Lines to Hyperspace, a study of geometry that set out to explain how Euclid's theories on the three dimensions set the stage for our understanding of the universe, even as they were rendered obsolete by scientists such as Carl Fredrich Gauss and his eighteenth-century ideas about curved space. Descartes, Einstein, and Witten all make appearances as Mlodilnow carries his history into the twenty-first-century and current string-theory speculations about eleven dimensions. Amy Brunvand of Library Journal found the effort a "surprisingly exciting history" that "does an excellent job of explaining the importance of the study of geometry." In Booklist Gilbert Taylor enjoyed how Mlodinow's humorous and "lively exposition" propelled the book forward. However, a critic for Publishers Weekly felt that that the joking tone gives "the false, probably unintentional impression that the subject itself is dull or inaccessible."
Mlodinow followed up Euclid's Window with 2003's Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life, in which he recounted his early-'80s conversations with famed physicist Richard Feynman. While doing his post-doctoral work at CalTech, Mlodinow underwent a crisis of self-doubt. Eventually he sought out his idol and departmental colleague Feynman iand the two engaged in long discussions of not just science, but life in general. Mlodinow taped some of their conversations, and transcripts of those tapes form the nucleus of Feynman's Rainbow. When combined with Mlodinow's anecdotes about his life at CalTech, the result is, according to a contributor to Kirkus Reviews, an "inspiring and very readable portrait of a free-spirited genius."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Lines to Hyperspace, p. 1215.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2003, review of Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life, p. 522.
Library Journal, March 15, 2001, Amy Brunvand, review of Euclid's Window, p. 103.
Publishers Weekly, March 5, 2001, review of Euclid's Window, p. 74.
Science News, June 14, 2003, review of Feynman's Rainbow, p. 383.
Time Warner Bookmark,http://www.twbookmark.com/ (September 7, 2003).
Wigglefish,http://www.wigglefish.com/ (June 5, 2001), review of Euclid's Window and interview.*