Frenkel on his love for math

Frenkel on his love for math


Love and Math with Frenkel

Science By Number engages in probably one unique interview with Mathematician, Edward Frenkel.  The backstory was that I, Jes, wanted to ask more unique questions since I gathered he had been interviewed once or twice before in his career’s life.  Half an hour before the scheduled Skype interview, I stumbled upon an incredible story.  It was Frenkel speaking about his college entrance exam in which he was denied acceptance despite the 4 hours he spent answering ridiculously hard math questions.  I urge to PLEASE listen to “The Test” from here, you HAVE to, its not a story you will hear often in your life.  The podcast begins with questions on childhood trauma, rising above adversities, and how love of math saved him and fuels his desire to be so open about his experiences.

This is part 1 of 2.  I could not find anything I didn’t want to share, we usually just do 2.  Not this time.


This is one of the more sobering interviews, and I am incredibly grateful to be on the receiving end of such an exchange.


George Musser Jr. explores Quantum Behaviour

George Musser Jr. explores Quantum Behaviour

I think I will let George speak for himself…directly from his site, here you go…

George Musser Jr. thinking

George Musser Jr. thinking

Who is George Musser Jr? A really cool guy to talk to.  I mean…really fun to talk to.  I loved his eclectic range and more so, his desire to assimilate it all.  Not an easy task. George is a Big Picture Mind.

To grab his bio from his website, I present… George.

“I’m a contributing editor at Scientific American magazine in New York, where I focus on fundamental physics and space science. My reporting has been recognized by the 2011 Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics and the 2010 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award from the American Astronomical Society. Articles I’ve solicited and edited have appeared in The Best American Science Writing and The Best American Science & Nature Writing anthologies. I was the originator and one of the lead editors for the single-topic issue “A Matter of Time” in September 2002, which won a National Magazine Award for editorial excellence, and I coordinated the single-topic issue “Crossroads for Planet Earth” in September 2005, which won a Global Media Award from the Population Institute and was a National Magazine Award finalist. The magazine also received a National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2011.

I did my undergraduate studies in electrical engineering and mathematics at Brown University and my graduate studies in planetary science at Cornell University, where I was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. My thesis work, done with Steve Squyres (latterly of Mars rover fame), modeled mantle convection on Venus in order to explain broad plateaus mapped by NASA’s Magellan orbiter. I am a member of the Foundational Questions Institute.”

…more insane accomplishments etc like –

“I’ve appeared at TEDx and on the Today show, CNN (here and here), NPR, PRI, the CBC, BBC Radio 5, WTOP radio, the Ron Reagan show, and local TV stations in New York and San Francisco, but, as a writer, I’m even happier to have been cited on “A Word a Day” and “Language Log” and been quoted twice in the Oxford English Dictionary.”

I have nothing left to say except enjoy the podcast, part 1 of 2.

Science By Number and Garrett Lisi: Part 2 of 2

Science By Number and Garrett Lisi: Part 2 of 2


garrett lisiWe had such a huge interview with Garrett Lisi that it had to come in two parts. In part two, Garrett talks about his Institute, the Pacific Science Institute (PSI) that house
s researchers for free in one of the best places this planet has to offer in terms of view, atmosphere, and serenity. Jenny christened it as a co-ed Monastery for physicists, I seconded.

Pacific Science Institute Facebook page

Pacific Science Institute Website

Pacific Science Institute T-SHIRTS!

psi t-shirts


Besides telling us about Pacific Science Institute, we also got to dive into the gritty parts of the why the system for physics students, or any branch in education for that matter, is so broken. With Fees and books and housing and cheap loans and scarce jobs it has become a nightmare to get that top education from that top school knowing there is little guarantee that a job will be available just to get out of debt. Garrett shares his experience, as odd as they are,
they have also opened the idea that students of tomorrow don’t have to do the things students of yesterday did.

By having the Arxiv, having the professionals be open to sharing instruction on a wider outreach,
the hopes for making virtual universities with digital texts and online discussions seem more solid
as more data gets shared. And of course, as per Lisi, the robots are all going to take over our jobs anyways.


Garrett Lisi hangs out with Science By Number

Garrett Lisi hangs out with Science By Number

620_picture-12Science By Number  interviewed Garrett Lisi on explaining one of the most abstract concepts circling within the physics community; E8. If you get through E8 the rest is easy, it’s that complex. We figured we could get the scariest stuff done first so the rest would be a breeze. But more than just being able to condense a fantastically complex representation of a Lie group, Lisi offers great insight and advice for what the air is like in the scientific community and how it’s changing, why he chose to surf after graduating at the top of his class (among 42 other graduates), and how he has managed to keep life balanced. We often have the image of the theoretical physicist, coffee in one hand, piece of chalk in the other, writing frantically on the board throughout the night, day in, day out, never leaving the building. Garrett explains (and both Jen and I concur, she does yoga and I run) that going out and exercising, engaging in a sport or activity actually helps the thinking, offers a place to go when the thinking gets stuck, and provides the balance we should often seek in our lives between work, play, and rest.


listing for all of Lisi’s papers listed on Arxiv.


Here is Garrett’s TED Talk.

A more in depth and longer talk on E8, with Lisi demonstrating how something can spin 720 degrees before coming back to its original position