Archive for the 'Classics' Category

Miguel Syjuco Interview

April 18th, 2010 by Lewis Frumkes


It begins with a body. On a clear day in winter, the battered corpse of Crispin Salvador is pulled from the Hudson River. . . taken from the world is the controversial lion of Philipine literature. Gone, too, is the only manuscript of his final book. . . So begins “Illustrado,” a first novel by Miguel Syjuco winner of the prestigious Man Asian Literary Prize. Join us as I get to know this much praised young author of great talent.

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Orhan Pamuk Interview

January 31st, 2010 by Lewis Frumkes


Originally Aired September 2004; Ferit Orhan Pamuk, or just Orhan Pamuk, won the Nobel prize for literature in 2006. He was born and still lives in Istanbul, though he has visited the U.S. and has taught at Columbia University. He is Turkey’s best-selling writer and the recipient of numerous prizes. Among his important works are My Name is Red; The Black Book; Snow; The White Castle; and Colors. He is a Muslim, though more in a cultural sense, and as a human rights activist has been outspoken about the Armenian genocide and also about Turkey’s treatment of the Kurds. Besides his huge writing talent and heart, Pamuk, at least in my opinion, is very funny.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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Richard Peck Interview

November 7th, 2009 by Lewis Frumkes


It may sound strange, but Richard Peck reminds me somehow of a James Ellroy for youngsters. This Newberry-Award-winner, and National Book-Award-finalist, with sixty or seventy books to his credit, mines the fields of horror, caper, mystery, the occult, and history for his legions of young-adult fans. He enthralls them and enraptures them because he is a natural story-teller. Peck’s mind works in unusual and original ways; nor is he a shrinking violet when asked for opinions. He voices them in the same commanding, and intimidating manner as Ellroy. He is bright, articulate, talented and fun. Do listen to Richard and I discuss Peck’s world.

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Edward Teller Interview

August 26th, 2009 by Lewis Frumkes

edwardtellerEdward Teller, who agreed in 1988 to let me interview him after he heard the title of my book “How to Raise Your I.Q. By Eating Gifted Children,” for which of course I love him is one of the most important and controversial scientists of the 20th century.  At the time of our interview he had the President’s ear and  was the chief architect of the “Strategic Defense Initiative,” a network of anti-missile missiles which President Reagan believed would protect us from foreign nuclear attack. Credited with being the “father” of the “hydrogen bomb” which secures Teller’s place in history he asked me before the show not to refer to him as the “father” of anything. He also asked me what else I would ask him? When I replied that I would ask him to talk about some of the other famous scientists he had worked with, Von Neumann, Einstein, Von Karman, Szilard, Ulam, he said, “I will not talk about Ulam, Ulam is unimportant.” Stanislas Ulam, the brilliant Polish mathematician who was brought in to help Teller when the “Super” or hydrogen bomb wouldn’t work, apparently figured out the complex mathematics that would enable the bomb to ignite. It became known as the Teller/Ulam solution. Ulam had died two years before our interview and clearly Teller wished to keep him buried. When you hear Teller’s heavy Hungarian accent and slow manner of speaking in which he sets each word out one in front of the other like giant granite blocks you will understand why Terry Southern modeled his Dr. Strangelove after Teller.

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David Foster Wallace Interview

August 25th, 2009 by Lewis Frumkes

brief-interviews-with-hideous-menOriginally Aired in 1999; David Foster Wallace was a bedeviled wunderkind who had already written several books by the time he was 22. His best-known work was Infinite Jest, which takes on additional irony when one considers that Wallace committed suicide in 2008. During his lifetime he produced novels, essays, and short-stories, and taught at a number of colleges. A graduate of Amherst college summa cum laude with a double major in philosophy and English he received the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” in 1997, and in the same year was also awarded the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction by editors of the Paris Review. In our interview in response to my question about what is his favorite word, Wallace prophetically tells me that while he doesn’t know if it counts as a favorite word, the word he used most in his writing is “troubled.”

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