June 18th, 2008

Lunch 'n Len

As you know, the third Wednesday of every month I have a LUNCH 'n LEN.

That is, I meet with a different person named Len and we talk books. Well, actually, this is the first Lunch 'n Len, but if all goes well it may be a recurring thing.

Anyway, June's Lunch 'n Len features Leonard Mlodinow, Star Trek scriptwriter, random person I met at the UPS Store near my house four years ago, and New York Times bestselling author of . . .

Look! Look at the cool-e-osity when you take the cover off . . .

First, we had to figure out where to meet . . .

Lisa: Where shall we go to lunch?

Len: Let's go to that place.

Lisa: The same place?

Len: Yeah, that one.

Lisa: Okay.

Only, we ended up at a new place, which shall henceforth be known as the New Place . . .

Lisa: Describe THE DRUNKARD'S WALK: HOW RANDOMNESS RULES OUR LIVES" in one or two sentences.

Len: Umm . . . it's about how randomness is misunderstood in our lives and has a much bigger role than people can imagine I present a view of the world that's different from what one would normally take if one didn't understand the effect of randomness and I do it in a funny, entertaining and d*mn good way.

Oh wait. That's more than two sentences.

Lisa: No problem. I won't punctuate and then it'll look like one sentence.

You've received great reviews for your book. How many interviews have you done in the past couple weeks.

Len: Maybe 40?

Lisa: Yeah, but ever do one with a Peep present?

Len: What is that?

Lisa: It's Peepy. She's a Peep. You know, those marshmallow things. Only, mine's real. You can hold her. Go ahead . . .

Len: This is my first interview with a Peep. I feel honored.

Lisa: You co-wrote a book with Stephen Hawking called A BRIEFER HISTORY OF TIME. How did that come about?

Len: Stephen had read my book EUCLID'S WINDOW and wanted a co-writer who he liked and could also understand physics . . .

Lisa (whispering aside): Len's, like, really smart. He has a PhD in physics from UC Berkeley and teaches at Cal Tech. He's worked on a perturbation theory for eigenvalue problems in quantum mechanics and was an Alexander von Humboldt fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysik. (Ooooh-kay.) He was also a Vice President of software development and other stuff at Scholastic.

Lisa (no longer whispering): You also wrote for MacGyver and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Isn't that sort of abnormal--to be a physicist and write about guys wearing unitards?

Len: Yeah. But being abnormal is my strongest point. It's good to be abnormal. That's what I always tell my kids.

Lisa: Okay. Here's a oft-asked question about randomness. What are the odds that two authors are both under contract for kids books to Scholastic. And that on the very same day, at the very same time, they would both be at the UPS Store in South Pasadena to mail their contracts. And that someone named Alan owns the store and knows both of them and introduces them?

Can you answer that? OOoh! Wait!!! Can you diagram it right here at the New Place?


Lisa: Ah! Just as I thought. Thanks Len.

For more about Len's theories about randomness, check this out . . .

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