First official review of my forthcoming thriller, “Choke” – Review by Fully Booked (@MaliceAfore):

•May 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Read the review here:

Choke – Between the Covers

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New “Book trailer” for my upcoming thriller, Choke, due for release in May 2017

•February 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Author Interview: CAT CONNOR

•November 17, 2016 • Leave a Comment

If you don’t know her already, I’d like to introduce you to successful, New Zealand-based mystery/thriller author, CAT CONNOR, and the star of her highly acclaimed Byte series –…

Source: Author Interview: CAT CONNOR

Knowing Infinity

•June 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

foto_22642_foto-dev-patel-en-jeremy-irons-op-poster-the-man-who-knew-infinity

If you love math as much as I do, you’re pretty much constantly starving for a juicy math movie. Pi, Good Will Hunting, A Beautiful Mind, The Imitation Game, there are only a handful. The Man Who Knew Infinity left me inspired and hungry to know more about its actual star – mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. With actors like Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel carrying you down the story’s path, you’ll find yourself on a fascinating journey of one man’s perseverance to prove himself to 1913 English academia – 5000 miles away from his home in Madras, India. Why prove himself? Because of his self-taught, inherent, almost mystical understanding of mathematical partitions and the establishment’s demand for verification through proofs and theorems.

Partitions is part of a mathematical number theory concept of combinatorics, where a partition is a way of writing a positive integer (n) as a sum of positive integers. For example, the seven partitions of five would look like:

  • 5
  • 4+1
  • 3+2
  • 3+1+1
  • 2+2+1
  • 2+1+1+1
  • 1+1+1+1+1

I am not sufficiently qualified to paraphrase the significance of (the real) Ramanujan’s formula, but it has been used in statistical physics and in calculating quantum partition functions of atomic nuclei.

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Ramanujan’s English mentor, Professor G.H. Hardy (portrayed by Jeremy Irons), played the role of lion tamer, forcing the young genius to dress like an Englishman and mold himself into that of his peers. But Ramanujan had nothing in common with his peers…nor anybody else.

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Ramanujan didn’t need to walk the path of scientific rigor to deduce partitions – he knew them; he understood them. Said Professor Littlewood in the film of Ramanujan, “Every positive integer is like one of (his) personal friends.” But, as Hardy demanded, in order to publish and be taken seriously, he must do more than simply provide an answer. He must demonstrate each painstaking step and identify the path. And while Hardy honed Ramanujan’s untamed genius, the young mathematician suffered through mathematical proofs to try to verify and validate his formula.

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Ramanujan’s life in Madras is a fascinating part of the story, so far removed from the stilted, structured academic fortress of Cambridge’s elite ruling class. It is here, in Madras, that the most compelling character conflict exists – between Ramanujan’s mother and his young wife, Janaki. Certain that his young, beautiful wife has forgotten him, he mourns her lack of correspondence and drowns his sorrow into deeper consumption of his endless proofs. Combined with cold, rainy English weather, lack of food befitting a vegetarian diet, and constant humiliation by his English benefactors, Ramanujan’s broken heart causes his health to deteriorate.

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The very brief, culturally unlikely and deeply meaningful collaboration between Hardy and Ramanujan resulted in Ramanujan becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and what became known as The Hardy-Ramanujan Asymptotic Partition Formula, the effect of which has had a transformative impact on modern mathematics. You can read about and practice the partitions formula here.

Director Matthew Brown, in this portrayal of one of mathematics’ brightest stars, shows you Ramanujan’s inspiration, alienation, desperation, but not without validation of his work. It’s a meaningful ride into a fascinating slice of history and a tiny glimpse into the mind of a true genius.

Thanks for reading, and if you know of a good math movie that I’ve missed, please comment!

Bike Riding to Bliss

•October 16, 2015 • 1 Comment

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I love when unlikely things pull me out of my typical midweek work-eat-sleep treadmill. I called my parents today, and they couldn’t talk because they were having one of their favorite rituals – bike riding across the Cape Cod Canal and then eating hot dogs on the grass by the water. It sounds like something 7-year olds would do. My parents are in their 70’s and have been married for 50 years. Precious!!

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So does five decades of marriage together make it unlikely that they would still make time for romantic rituals like this? I guess so. But I also feel so touched to know that they still have this deep connection, and so happy that these are my primary role models in life. They have set this example for my sister and I about making things like bike riding and hot dogs a top priority. I don’t eat hot dogs, but I hope with all my heart that I get to spend 50 years with my husband and that we’re still riding bikes together by then.

Cape_Cod_Bourne_Bridge_and_Railroad_Bridge

What’s cluttering up YOUR space?

•July 8, 2015 • Leave a Comment

broom

Find five things on your desk that are taking up space but unused.

  1. Empty water glass, been there for at least 3 weeks
  2. Note pads, various sizes, some empty, some half-used
  3. Vitamin E (unopened bottle), been there since January
  4. 3 t-shirts from a vendor presentation, folded, never worn, stuffed in bookcase
  5. Broken telephone

I’m looking at this list and remembering that “things” have and use energy, related to why we kept them in the first place, relationship associations, memories, not to mention their potential for distraction. What can you put away, file, organize, hand off or toss out? Do you want to consciously populate these spaces with new, shiny, inspiring items, or just simply enjoy the emptiness?

Some good reading on space and clutter here:

http://lifehacker.com/how-clutter-affects-your-brain-and-what-you-can-do-abo-662647035

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-good-life/201207/home-clutter-confusion-and-chaos

clean desk

Yes, Teacher

•October 19, 2014 • 1 Comment

Though I’m the farthest thing from a stereotypical history buff, I’m fascinated by ancient civilizations, especially the variety that purportedly vanished under a cloak of intrigue. Anasazi, Olmec, Minoan, Nabateans, Moche. As you read more about them, their disappearances seem more legitimate and evolutionary than conspiracy theorists care to admit. But without a time machine, we can’t really say for sure what happened thousands of years ago.

ancient civilizations2

And this line of inquiry piques my curiosity about the ultimate fate of our own fragile species on earth. Drought, meteors, earthquakes, or will it be something more home-grown and insidious, like an organism? Maybe something too microscopic for our eyes to detect, though wielding an unspeakable power over our physiology, immunity, and strength.

Like a virus.

Ebola

What is the root cause of the mishandling of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa so far? Is it an internal, organizational breakdown, a lack of education to the local population about the threat, or a perilous political funding dilemma? Can we continue to blame escalating death toll on operational logistics like containment, or is it always about money? The GOP and Tea Party will no doubt continue to oppose broad funding for institutions like the WHO and CDC. So I wonder, then, what Ebola is now revealing about how our political divisions are hindering progress and preventing us from fighting back on the same team. Look at Ebola 2014’s track record so far…how much more time do we really have to waste?

Look at things like the Black Death which, in the 1300s, claimed up to 200 million lives. The cause? A pathogen (yersenia pestis) carried by rat fleas and spread by contact with exposed animals. In 1300, we didn’t know that washing your hands with soap and water could protect our health. And cigarette smoking in the early to mid 1900’s – no one knew it was harmful back then. Now we know. And in 2014 in the absence of budgetary allocation, education and awareness are the strongest tools we have.

Black Death (Yersinia pestis)

Black Death (Yersinia pestis)

HIV

HIV

H1N1 (swine flu)

H1N1 (swine flu)

Mimivirus, the largest and possibly the oldest virus on earth

Mimivirus, the largest and possibly the oldest virus on earth

The reality: viruses such as Ebola are smart, more than smart. They learn. They can adapt, and change. A virus mutates for the same reasons any other organism mutates – to survive. Host organisms are not passive observers of this process either. The host, a human body in the case of Ebola, will constantly deploy strategies to prevent viral infection. So the next time the virus comes in contact with a host cell, it may have issues attaching itself to the cell’s surface membrane. To compensate for this temporary setback, the virus could change its surface proteins to essentially trick the host into allowing it to attach. Scary. Sort of like Star Trek shield modulations to prevent a sensor lock by an enemy species.

What this means is that Ebola could, at some point, mutate into something more easily transmittable, and with that comes unthinkable possibilities. So until we discover a cure, Ebola comes to gives us another chance to pay attention, to hear her wisdom, to learn to listen to each other, and to change.