Leonard Mlodinow

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Leonard Mlodinow
Born 1 January 1954
Chicago, Illinois
Citizenship American
Alma mater Brandeis University
University of California, Berkeley
Scientific career
Fields Mathematical physics
Institutions Max Planck Institute for Physics
California Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisor Eyvind Wichmann
Influences Richard Feynman

Leonard Mlodinow ( /məˈlɒdɪnf/; born 1 January 1954) is an American theoretical physicist, 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 is known to a wider audience through his 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 Award for Literary Science Writing. He is also known through his public lectures and media appearances on programs ranging from Morning Joe to Through the Wormhole, and for debating 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 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]

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


Children's books
  • 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)

Awards and honors[edit]


  • 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).


  1. ^ Tenenbaum, Joseph (1952). Underground, The Story of a People. p. 195. 
  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. Bibcode:1982PhRvA..25.1305B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.25.1305. 
  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. 
  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. 
  9. ^ Luks, A., and V. Perinova, Emil Wolf, ed. (2002). "Canonical quantum description of light propagation in dielectric media". Progress in Optics. 43: 304–206. 
  10. ^ Lukš, Antonín, and Vlasta Perinová (2009). "Origin of Macroscopic Approach". Quantum Aspects of Light Propagation: 7–9. 
  11. ^ a b Drummond, Peter D (1990). "Electromagnetic quantization in dispersive inhomogeneous nonlinear dielectrics" (PDF). Physical Review A. 42.11: 6845. Bibcode:1990PhRvA..42.6845D. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.42.6845. 
  12. ^ Duan, Lu-Ming, and Guang-Can Guo (1997). "Alternative approach to electromagnetic field quantization in nonlinear and inhomogeneous media" (PDF). Physical Review A. 56.1: 925. arXiv:quant-ph/9612009Freely accessible. Bibcode:1997PhRvA..56..925D. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.56.925. 
  13. ^ Bezgabadi, Abolfazl Safaei, and Mohammad Agha Bolorizadeh (2016). "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. 
  14. ^ Hillery, Mark, and Leonard D. Mlodinow (1984). "Quantization of electrodynamics in nonlinear dielectric media". Physical Review A. 30.4: 1860. Bibcode:1984PhRvA..30.1860H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.30.1860. 
  15. ^ Hillery, Mark, and Leonard D. Mlodinow (1985). "Semiclassical expansion for nonlinear dielectric media". Physical Review A. 31.2: 797. Bibcode:1985PhRvA..31..797H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.31.797. 
  16. ^ Hillery, Mark, and Leonard Mlodinow (1997). "Quantized fields in a nonlinear dielectric medium: a microscopic approach" (PDF). Physical Review A. 55.1: 678. Bibcode:1997PhRvA..55..678H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.55.678. 
  17. ^ Disney's Math Quest with Aladdin, Robin Williams, Gilbert Gottfried, Scott Weinger, retrieved 2018-01-02 
  18. ^ Beyond the Horizon (2009), retrieved 2018-01-02 
  19. ^ Mlodinow, Leonard, and Todd A. Brun (2014). "Relation between the psychological and thermodynamic arrows of time" (PDF). Physical Review E. 89.5: 052102. arXiv:1310.2121Freely accessible. Bibcode:2014PhRvE..89a2102C. doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.89.012102. 
  20. ^ Hillery, Mark, Leonard Mlodinow, and Vladimír Bužek (2005). "Quantum interference with molecules: The role of internal states" (PDF). Physical Review A. 71.6: 062103. Bibcode:2005PhRvA..71a2103S. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.71.012103. 
  21. ^ Brun, Todd A., and Leonard Mlodinow (2016). "Decoherence by coupling to internal vibrational modes". Physical Review A. 94.5: 052123. arXiv:1510.04857Freely accessible. Bibcode:2016PhRvA..94a2123K. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.94.012123. 

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