Leonard Mlodinow

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Leonard Mlodinow
Leonard Mlodinow.jpg
Born 1954[1]
Chicago, Illinois[1]
Citizenship American
Fields Mathematical physics
Institutions Max Planck Institute for Physics
California Institute of Technology[1]
Alma mater Brandeis University
University of California, Berkeley[1]
Doctoral advisor Eyvind Wichmann[1]
Known for Perturbation theory
Quantum field theory[1]
Influences Richard Feynman[1]

Leonard Mlodinow (pronunciation: /məˈlɒdnf/) is an American physicist, author and screenwriter.[2]

Mlodinow was born in Chicago, Illinois, of parents who were both Holocaust survivors.[1] His father, who spent more than a year in the Buchenwald concentration camp, had been a leader in the Jewish resistance under Nazi rule in his hometown of Częstochowa, Poland [1] then Generalgouvernement (für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete). 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.[1]

While a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, and on the faculty at Caltech, he developed (with Nikos Papanicolaou) a new type of perturbation theory for eigenvalue problems in quantum mechanics.[1] Later, as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics in Munich, Germany, he did pioneering work (with M. Hillery) on the quantum theory of dielectric media.[1]

Apart from his research and books on popular science, he also co-wrote the screenplay for the 2009 film Beyond the Horizon[3] and has been a screenwriter for television series, including Star Trek: The Next Generation and MacGyver.[1] He co-authored (with Matt Costello) a children's chapter book series entitled The Kids of Einstein Elementary.

Between 2008 and 2010, Mlodinow worked on a book with Stephen Hawking, entitled The Grand Design.[1] A step beyond Hawking's other titles, The Grand Design is said to explore both the question of the existence of the universe and the issue of why the laws of physics are what they are.

His Ph.D. thesis written at UC Berkeley in 1981 is titled The Large N Expansion In Quantum Mechanics.[4]


  • Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior (ISBN 03-07-378217) Describes how things that we think are conscious, freely made choices, are in fact governed by our subconscious.[2]
  • The War of the Worldviews (ISBN 978-0-30-788688-0) 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 (ISBN 0-553-80537-1) with Stephen Hawking. It argues that invoking God is not necessary to explain the origins of the universe and became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller.
  • The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives (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 bestseller, and a "NY Times notable book of the year" and was named "one of the 10 best science books of 2008" on Amazon.com.
  • A Briefer History of Time (ISBN 0-553-80436-7), with Stephen Hawking, an international best-seller that has appeared in 25 languages.
  • Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life (as published in USA) (ISBN 0-446-53045-X), is about his relationship with Richard Feynman, 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 (ISBN 0-684-86523-8) is a work on popular science that chronicles the idea of curved space and the history of geometry. It proved a popular success and has now been translated into ten languages.
  • 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]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Mlodinow, Leonard. "Leonard Mlodinow BIOGRAPHY". California Institute of Technology. Retrieved September 2, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Point of Inquiry Nov 5 2013". Center for Inquiry. 
  3. ^ "IMDB Beyond the Horizon". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Large N Expansion In Quantum Mechanics". Leonard Mlodinow Thesis - University of California, Berkeley. 
  5. ^ Carolyn Kellogg (August 14, 2013). "Jacket Copy: PEN announces winners of its 2013 awards". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 

External links[edit]