Archive for December, 2009

Murray Gell-Mann Interview

December 27th, 2009 by Lewis Frumkes


Murray Gell-Mann is the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Theoretical Physics Emeritus at Caltech and widely regarded as one of the smartest men on the planet. Suffice that he speaks 15 languages, graduated from Yale University at the age of 18 and in 1969 won the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on elementary particles. Essentially he formulated the quark model of hadronic resonances, and identified the SU(3) flavor symmetry of the light quarks, extending isospin to include strangeness, which he also discovered. He also collaborated with Richard Feynman to discover the V-A theory of chiral neutrinos. Join us as we discuss basic concepts of cosmology, GUT theory, and Murray’s book “The Jaguar and The Quark.”

Category: Classics, Interviews | No Comments »

Freeman Dyson Interview

December 27th, 2009 by Lewis Frumkes


Freeman Dyson who has long been a legend at The Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton is a theoretical physicist and mathematician of the first order, a futurist, and a nuclear engineer. British by birth, Dyson studied with Hans Bethe at Cornell before moving to the Institute for Advanced Study.  He is probably best known for demonstrating in 1949 the equivalence of the formulations of quantum electrodynamics that existed at the time— Feynman’s diagrammatic path integral formulation and the operator method developed by Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for which Schwinger, Feynman, and Tomonaga shared the Nobel Prize. Dyson also did seminal work in topology, analysis, number theory, random matrices and other abstruse topics in mathematics.  On first meeting him Dyson can seem a tad eccentric, subversive, perfectionistic and cantankerous. . . but ultimately with his impish little smile he comes across as quite charming. When I asked him of all the scientists with whom he worked whom he thought possessed true genius, he unhesitatingly answered. . . Richard Feynman.

Category: Classics | No Comments »

Margaret Geller Interview

December 27th, 2009 by Lewis Frumkes


I visited Margaret Geller in 1989 at the Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge Mass where she took me on a trip with a Cray Super-Computer out to the Great Wall At The End of Space and back again. At the time she was working with Alan Guth at MIT and also enlisting graduate students to map the visible and invisible distribution of dark matter in the universe, the halo of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and to understand the link between the history of our galaxy and the history of the universe. In 1989 with John Huchra  she discovered the Great Wall at the visible limits of the universe based on redshift survey data from the CFA Redshift Survey. She even showed me a configuration of stars at the Great Wall that resembled a cross but cautioned me not to make too much out of it. In 2008 Geller was awarded the Magellanic Premium by the American Philosophical Society for her research into the groupings of galaxies.

Category: Classics, Interviews | No Comments »

Audrey Niffenegger Interview

December 20th, 2009 by Lewis Frumkes


“I’m 39 years old, and I grew up in Evanston, Illinois, which is the first suburb north of Chicago. I’m a spinster (albeit a spinster with a permanent boyfriend) and I live in a white stucco bungalow with my cats, Muybridge and Claudine. I’ve been writing since I was a tiny child, and I always made pictures to go with the words.” How could you not love a writer who describes herself thusly. She did write The Time Traveler’s Wife, and the recent Her Fearful Symmetry, and is an accomplished and talented artist. . . but that is all you need to know. Want to know more? Listen to our interview.

Category: Interviews | No Comments »

Richard Lederer Interview

December 13th, 2009 by Lewis Frumkes


Verbivore, logophile, word wizard, lexicraftologist, all of these apply to Richard Lederer who may just be our reigning expert and purveyor of recreational wordplay. He has written over thirty books on language with titles such as ANGUISHED ENGLISH, THE MIRACLE OF LANGUAGE, GET THEE TO A PUNNERY, THE CUNNING LINGUIST, CRAZY ENGLISH, MORE ANGUISHED ENGLISH and dozens of others. To his language books Richard has recently added two best-selling treasuries, A TREASURY FOR DOG LOVERS, and A TREASURY FOR CAT LOVERS. A recipient of many awards (One year Richard was elected International Punster of the Year by the International Pun Foundation, and the next he was given the Golden Gavel Award by Toastmasters International), he is a supreme entertainer. . . .and if you love words or are an aficionado of the English language you will adore Richard Lederer.

Category: Interviews | No Comments »

Liz Smith Interview

December 6th, 2009 by Lewis Frumkes


By turns smart, saucy, and sassy, Liz Smith has been called the highest paid syndicated columnist in the world, someone who has hobnobbed with princes and kings, with society doyens and movie stars. In fact she still commands an important presence around the country and on the internet, but alas she misses her New York audience. Why then does Rupert Murdoch who owns The New York Post which let her go stop to kiss her hello when he sees her?  What exactly happened ? Tune in and listen to this fascinating Texas gal tell me her story.

Category: Interviews | No Comments »