Jump to content

Leonard Mlodinow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Leonard Mlodinow
Born (1954-11-26) 26 November 1954 (age 69)
Alma materBrandeis University
University of California, Berkeley
Scientific career
FieldsMathematical physics
InstitutionsMax Planck Institute for Physics
California Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisorEyvind Wichmann

Leonard Mlodinow (born November 26 1954) is an American theoretical physicist and mathematician, screenwriter and author. In physics, he is known for his work on the large N expansion, a method of approximating the spectrum of atoms based on the consideration of an infinite-dimensional version of the problem, and for his work on the quantum theory of light inside dielectrics.

He has also written books for the general public, five of which have been New York Times best-sellers, including The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, which was chosen as a New York Times notable book, and short-listed for the Royal Society Science Book Prize; The Grand Design, co-authored with Stephen Hawking, which argues that invoking God is not necessary to explain the origins of the universe; War of the Worldviews, co-authored with Deepak Chopra; and Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, which won the 2013 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. He also makes public lectures and media appearances on programs including Morning Joe and Through the Wormhole, and debated Deepak Chopra on ABC's Nightline.


Mlodinow was born in Chicago, Illinois, of parents who were both Holocaust survivors. His father, who spent more than a year in the Buchenwald concentration camp, had been a leader in the Jewish resistance in his hometown of Częstochowa, in Nazi Germany-occupied Poland.[1] As a child, Mlodinow was interested in both mathematics and chemistry, and while in high school was tutored in organic chemistry by a professor from the University of Illinois. As recounted in his book Feynman's Rainbow, his interest turned to physics during a semester he took off from college to spend on a kibbutz in Israel, during which he had little to do at night besides reading The Feynman Lectures on Physics, which was one of the few English books he found in the kibbutz library.[2]

Mlodinow completed his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. It was in that PhD dissertation that he developed a new type of perturbation theory for nonrelativistic quantum mechanics, based upon solving the problem in infinite dimensions, and then correcting for the fact that we live in three. The method has become the basis of the 1/d expansion used by theoretical chemists.[3][4][5][6][7][8] He has also done pioneering[9][10] and innovative[11][12][13] work in the quantum theory of nonlinear optics.[14][15][16] The central problem of quantum nonlinear optics is how to quantize a dielectric that, as well as the usual homogeneities and anisotropy, can also have nonlinearities and dispersion, and earlier attempts in this direction, while incorporating the known linear theory, had not fully reproduced the nonlinear equations.[11]

In 1981, Mlodinow joined the faculty at Caltech. Later, he was named an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow and worked at the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics in Munich, Germany. In 1986, Mlodinow left full-time academia to begin a writing career. In addition to his books, he wrote many episodes for a number of television series including Star Trek: The Next Generation and MacGyver, created computer games with director Steven Spielberg and actor Robin Williams,[17] and wrote the screenplay for the 2009 film Beyond the Horizon.[18] He also continued to conduct research in theoretical physics, and again joined the faculty of Caltech in 2005, leaving in 2013. His latest work in physics concerns the arrow of time, quantum decoherence, and the relation between discrete quantum random walks and the relativistic equations of quantum theory.[19][20][21]

In 2011, Mlodinow attended an event on Jeffrey Epstein's private island, Little Saint James, known as the "Mindshift Conference", hosted by Epstein and Al Seckel.[22]

Point of Inquiry host Josh Zepps interviews Mlodinow – CFI Summit – 2013



  • Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking (2022) (ISBN 978-1-5247-4759-6)
  • Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics (2020) (ISBN 978-1524748685)
  • Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change (2018) (ISBN 1-101-87092-3) A new look at the neuroscience of change—and how elastic thinking can help us thrive in a world changing faster than ever before.
  • The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos (2015) (ISBN 978-0-30790-823-0) A history of human progress, from our time on the African savannah through the invention of modern quantum physics..
  • Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior (2012) (ISBN 0-307-37821-7) Describes how things that we think are conscious, freely made choices, are in fact governed by our subconscious.
  • The War of the Worldviews (2011) (ISBN 978-0-307-88688-0) with Deepak Chopra. From their contrasting scientific and spiritual perspectives, the two authors answer the big questions about the universe, consciousness, life, and God.
  • The Grand Design (2010) (ISBN 0-553-80537-1) with Stephen Hawking. This book argues that invoking God is not necessary to explain the origins of the universe. It became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller.
  • The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives (2008) (ISBN 0-375-42404-0), deals with randomness and people's inability to take it into account in their daily lives. The book was a "NY Times notable book of the year".
  • A Briefer History of Time (2005) (ISBN 0-553-80436-7), with Stephen Hawking.
  • Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life (2003) (as published in US) (ISBN 0-446-53045-X), is about his relationship with Richard Feynman and Richard Feynman's brilliance, during his post-doctoral years in Caltech, in the early eighties. The book offers an insight into Feynman's attitude towards physics and life, his relationship with Murray Gell-Mann and the rise of String Theory.
  • Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace (2001) (ISBN 0-684-86523-8) is a work on popular science that chronicles the idea of curved space and the history of geometry.

Children's books[edit]

  • The Kids of Einstein Elementary: Titanic Cat, co-authored with Matt Costello and Josh Nash (2004) (ISBN 0-439-53774-6)
  • The Kids of Einstein Elementary: The Last Dinosaur, co-authored with Matt Costello and Josh Nash (2004) (ISBN 0-439-53773-8)


  • Mlodinow, Leonard. "Mindware and Superforecasting." New York Times (October 15, 2015): 23.
  • Mlodinow, Leonard. "It is, in Fact, Rocket Science," New York Times (May 15, 2015): 23.
  • Mlodinow, Leonard. "Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality." New York Times (October 25, 2013): 15.
  • Mlodinow, Leonard. "Most of Us are Biased After All." New York Times (April 4, 2013): 58.
  • Mlodinow, Leonard. "In Hollywood, Theories of Infinite Dimensions." New York Times (June 3, 2012): 58.
  • Mlodinow, Leonard. "A Facial Theory of Politics." New York Times (April 22, 2012): 58.
  • Mlodinow, Leonard. "Physics: Fundamental Feynman." Nature 471 (2011), 296–297.
  • Hawking, Stephen, and Leonard Mlodinow. "The (elusive) theory of everything." Scientific American 303.4 (2010): 68–71.
  • Hawking, Stephen, and Leonard Mlodinow. "Why God did not create the universe." Wall Street Journal (September 4—5, 2010) W 3 (2010).
  • Mlodinow, Leonard. "A hint of hype, a taste of illusion." Wall Street Journal (November 20, 2009).
  • Mlodinow, Leonard. "The Triumph of the Random," Was Joe Di Maggio's hitting streak a fluke?" Wall Street Journal (July 16, 2009).
  • Mlodinow, Leonard. "Meet Hollywood's Latest Genius." Los Angeles Times (July 2, 2006).

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ Tenenbaum, Joseph (1952). Underground, The Story of a People. Pickle Partners. p. 195. ISBN 978-1786257963.
  2. ^ Mlodinow, Leonard (2003). Feynman's Rainbow: a Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life. Grand Central Publishing.
  3. ^ Mlodinow, L. D., and N. Papanicolaou (1980). "SO (2, 1) algebra and the large N expansion in quantum mechanics". Annals of Physics. 128 (2): 314–334. Bibcode:1980AnPhy.128..314M. doi:10.1016/0003-4916(80)90323-1.
  4. ^ Mlodinow, L. D., and N. Papanicolaou (1981). "Pseudo-spin structure and large N expansion for a class of generalized helium Hamiltonians". Annals of Physics. 131 (1): 1–35. Bibcode:1981AnPhy.131....1M. doi:10.1016/0003-4916(81)90181-0.
  5. ^ Bender, Carl M., L. D. Mlodinow, and N. Papanicolaou (1982). "Semiclassical perturbation theory for the hydrogen atom in a uniform magnetic field". Physical Review A. 25 (3): 1305–1314. Bibcode:1982PhRvA..25.1305B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.25.1305.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Mlodinow, Leonard D., and Michael P. Shatz (1984). "Solving the Schrödinger equation with use of 1/N perturbation theory" (PDF). Journal of Mathematical Physics. 25 (4): 943–950. Bibcode:1984JMP....25..943M. doi:10.1063/1.526211.
  7. ^ Doren, D. J., and D. R. Herschbach (1985). "Accurate semiclassical electronic structure from dimensional singularities". Chemical Physics Letters. 118 (2): 115–119. Bibcode:1985CPL...118..115D. doi:10.1016/0009-2614(85)85280-5.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Loeser, J. G., and D. R. Herschbach. (1985). "Dimensional interpolation of correlation energy for two-electron atoms". The Journal of Physical Chemistry. 89 (16): 3444–3447. doi:10.1021/j100262a004.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Luks, A.; V. Perinova (2002). Emil Wolf (ed.). Canonical quantum description of light propagation in dielectric media. Progress in Optics. Vol. 43. pp. 304–206. ISBN 978-0444510228.
  10. ^ Lukš, Antonín, and Vlasta Perinová (2009). "Origin of Macroscopic Approach". Quantum Aspects of Light Propagation: 7–9. doi:10.1007/b101766_2. ISBN 978-0387855899.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ a b Drummond, Peter D (1990). "Electromagnetic quantization in dispersive inhomogeneous nonlinear dielectrics" (PDF). Physical Review A. 42 (11): 6845–6857. Bibcode:1990PhRvA..42.6845D. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.42.6845. PMID 9903985.
  12. ^ Duan, Lu-Ming, and Guang-Can Guo (1997). "Alternative approach to electromagnetic field quantization in nonlinear and inhomogeneous media". Physical Review A. 56 (1): 925–930. arXiv:quant-ph/9612009. Bibcode:1997PhRvA..56..925D. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.56.925. S2CID 17095200.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Bezgabadi, Abolfazl Safaei, and Mohammad Agha Bolorizadeh (2016). Yin, Shizhuo; Guo, Ruyan (eds.). "Quantum mechanical treatment of the third order nonlinear term in NLS equation and the supercontinuum generation". Photonic Fiber and Crystal Devices: Advances in Materials and Innovations in Device Applications X. 9958: 995803. Bibcode:2016SPIE.9958E..03S. doi:10.1117/12.2236882. S2CID 125661387.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Hillery, Mark, and Leonard D. Mlodinow (1984). "Quantization of electrodynamics in nonlinear dielectric media". Physical Review A. 30 (4): 1860–1865. Bibcode:1984PhRvA..30.1860H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.30.1860.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Hillery, Mark, and Leonard D. Mlodinow (1985). "Semiclassical expansion for nonlinear dielectric media". Physical Review A. 31 (2): 797–806. Bibcode:1985PhRvA..31..797H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.31.797. PMID 9895552.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Hillery, Mark, and Leonard Mlodinow (1997). "Quantized fields in a nonlinear dielectric medium: a microscopic approach". Physical Review A. 55 (1): 678–689. arXiv:atom-ph/9608002. Bibcode:1997PhRvA..55..678H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.55.678. S2CID 17600293.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ Disney's Math Quest with Aladdin, Robin Williams, Gilbert Gottfried, Scott Weinger, retrieved January 2, 2018{{citation}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  18. ^ Beyond the Horizon (2009), retrieved January 2, 2018
  19. ^ Mlodinow, Leonard, and Todd A. Brun (2014). "Relation between the psychological and thermodynamic arrows of time". Physical Review E. 89.5 (1): 052102. arXiv:1310.2121. Bibcode:2014PhRvE..89a2102C. doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.89.012102. PMID 24580167. S2CID 12589630.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ Hillery, Mark, Leonard Mlodinow, and Vladimír Bužek (2005). "Quantum interference with molecules: The role of internal states". Physical Review A. 71.6 (1): 062103. arXiv:quant-ph/0502156. Bibcode:2005PhRvA..71a2103S. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.71.012103.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Brun, Todd A., and Leonard Mlodinow (2016). "Decoherence by coupling to internal vibrational modes". Physical Review A. 94.5 (1): 052123. arXiv:1510.04857. Bibcode:2016PhRvA..94a2123K. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.94.012123. S2CID 54646448.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ "Jeffrey Epstein to Host Mindshift Conference".

External links[edit]