MIB: James Gleick, Science Author

This week, we speak with James Gleick, author of numerous award winning books, including The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, and most recently, Time Travel: A History.

5 years ago, Boing Boing described James Gleick’s The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood as “a jaw-dropping tour de force history of information theory… The Information isn’t just a natural history of a powerful idea; it embodies and transmits that idea, it is a vector for its memes (as Dawkins has it), and it is a toolkit for disassembling the world. It is a book that vibrates with excitement, and it transmits that excited vibration with very little signal loss. It is a wonder.”

A biographer of science ideas, Gleick is usually found exploring unusual corners of science. His latest book looks at the surprisingly recent concept of Time Travel. How recent? H.G. Well’s The Time Machine, published in 1895, was the first mention of time travel. I read Time Travel and really enjoyed it – good wonky fun.

His approach to writing is somewhat humbling – he claims he starts out knowing nothing of his subject, and keeps researching until he feels he has learned enough to communicate about the subject. “Each book, each time I feel like I am figuring it out, starting from scratch . . . I don’t need to dumb anything down, I need to raise my own understanding to the level of grasping the stuff I am writing about.”

You can hear the full interview, including our podcast extras at iTunesSoundcloud, and Bloomberg. All of our earlier podcasts can be found iTunesSoundcloud, and Bloomberg.


Note: I tried something different this week – its a live-to-tape, raw version, without edits. You will hear long thoughtful pauses, and my errors  — I wanted to see how this played. Its a little different, see how you like it.

All books mentioned after the jump.


The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

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