James Gleick

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James Gleick
Born (1954-08-01) August 1, 1954 (age 60)
New York City
Occupation writer
Citizenship United States
Alma mater Harvard College
Notable works The Information (2011), Genius (1992), Chaos (1987)
Website
around.com

James Gleick (/ɡlk/;[1] born August 1, 1954) is an American author, historian of science, and sometime Internet pioneer whose work has chronicled the cultural impact of modern technology. Recognized for illuminating complex subjects through the techniques of narrative nonfiction, he has been called “one of the great science writers of all time.”[2][3]

Gleick's books include the international bestsellers Chaos: Making a New Science and The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood.[4] Three of them have been Pulitzer Prize[5][6][7] and National Book Award[8][9] finalists, and The Information was awarded the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award in 2012. They have been translated into more than thirty languages.[10]

Biography[edit]

A native of New York City, Gleick attended Harvard College, where he was an editor of the Harvard Crimson, graduating in 1976 with a degree in English and linguistics. He moved to Minneapolis and helped found an alternative weekly newspaper, Metropolis. After its demise a year later, he returned to New York and in 1979 joined the staff of the New York Times. He worked there for ten years as an editor on the metropolitan desk and then as a science reporter.

Among the scientists Gleick profiled in the New York Times Magazine were Douglas Hofstadter, Stephen Jay Gould, Mitchell Feigenbaum, and Benoit Mandelbrot. His early reporting on Microsoft anticipated the antitrust investigations by the U. S. Department of Justice and the European Commission. He wrote the "Fast Forward" column in the New York Times Magazine from 1995 to 1999, and his essays charting the growth of the Internet formed the basis of his book What Just Happened. His work has also appeared in The New Yorker, the Atlantic, Slate, and the Washington Post, and he is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books.

His first book, Chaos: Making a New Science, reported the development of the new science of chaos and complexity. It made the Butterfly Effect a household word, introduced the Mandelbrot Set and fractal geometry to a broad audience, and sparked popular interest in the subject, influencing such diverse writers as Tom Stoppard (Arcadia) and Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park).[11][12]

Aircraft Accident[edit]

On December 20 1997, Gleick was attempting to land his Rutan Long-EZ experimental plane at Greenwood Lake Airport in West Milford, New Jersey when a build-up of ice in the engine's carburetor caused the aircraft engine to lose power and the plane landed short of the runway into rising terrain, making a crash impact unavoidable.[13] The impact killed Gleick's passenger and left Gleick seriously injured.[14] Gleick's passenger was his 8 year-old son.

...The couple's adopted son, Harry, a lively and adventurous 8-year-old who often flew with his father, died shortly after impact. Gleick was trapped inside the mangled aircraft for half an hour; as rescue workers started pulling him from the wreckage, he asked about Harry and then passed out. Gleick lost a leg, nearly lost both, and spent five months in New York University's Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine.[15]

The Pipeline[edit]

In 1993, Gleick founded one of the earliest Internet service providers, The Pipeline, in New York City. It was the first ISP to offer a graphical user interface, incorporating e-mail, chat, Usenet, and the World Wide Web, through software for Windows and Mac operating systems.[16][17] The software, created by Gleick’s partner, Uday Ivatury, was licensed to other Internet service providers in the United States and overseas. Gleick sold the Pipeline in 1995 to PSINet, and it was later absorbed into MindSpring and then EarthLink.[18][19]

Work[edit]

Gleick’s style has been described as a combination of "clear mind, magpie-styled research and explanatory verve.”[20] After the publication of Chaos, Gleick collaborated with the photographer Eliot Porter on Nature's Chaos and with developers at Autodesk on Chaos: The Software. He was the McGraw Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University in 1989–90. He was the first editor of The Best American Science Writing series.

His next books include two biographies, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, and Isaac Newton, which John Banville said “will surely stand as the definitive study for a very long time to come.”[21] []

Gleick is active on the boards of the Authors Guild and the Key West Literary Seminar.

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "James Gleick Interview and Reading" on YouTube
  2. ^ "Study Guide: James Gleick". E Notes. 
  3. ^ Doctorow, Cory (March 24, 2011). "James Gleick's tour-de-force: The Information, a natural history of information theory". Boing Boing. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "James Gleick: Bibliography". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  5. ^ Gleick, James. "1988 Finalists". Chaos: Making a new Science. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Gleick, James. "1993 Finalists". Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  7. ^ Gleick, James. "2004 Finalists". Isaac Newton. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  8. ^ Gleick, James. "National Book Awards - 1987". Chaos: Making a New Science. National Book Foundation. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  9. ^ Gleick, James. "National Book Awards - 1992". Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman. National Book Foundation. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  10. ^ Gleick, James. "About". Bits in the Ether. Author's website. Retrieved 14 June 2011. 
  11. ^ Delaney, Paul (1994). Tom Stoppard in Conversation. University of Michigan Press. p. 224. 
  12. ^ Crichton, Michael (1990). Jurassic Park. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 400. 
  13. ^ "FA ID: NYC98FA047". National Transportation Safety Board. US Government. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Untitled (NYC98FA047 crash narrative)". National Transportation Safety Board. US Government. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  15. ^ Diamond, David. "James Gleick's Survival Lessons". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Batelle, John (November 1994). "Pipeline". Wired. Retrieved March 23, 2009. 
  17. ^ Michalski, Jerry (January 31, 1994). "Pipeline: Not Just Another Pretty Face" (PDF). Release 1.0. pp. 9–11. Retrieved March 23, 2009. 
  18. ^ Lewis, Peter H. (February 11, 1995). "Performance Systems Buys Pipeline Network". The New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Psinet to Sell Consumer Internet Division". The New York Times. July 2, 1996. Retrieved March 23, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Karen Long on James Gleick's The Information". February 7, 2012. Retrieved May 29, 2014. 
  21. ^ Banville, John (August 29, 2003). "The Magus". The Guardian. Retrieved May 29, 2014. 

External links[edit]

James Gleick talks about The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood on Bookbits radio.