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Holding Court: Marcelo Gleiser

Photo of Marcelo GleiserHolding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.

In this week's edition, we speak with Marcelo Gleiser, a theoretical physicist, professor of Physics and Astronomy, and the Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy.  Gleiser's book The Simple Beauty of the Unexpected: A Natural Philosopher's Quest for Trout and the Meaning of Everything (Fore Edge, 2016) integrates memoir writing, scientific exposition, and an investigation into some of life's big questions.  In addition to his voluminous scientific production, Gleiser is the author of several books of popular science, co-founder of NPR's 13.7 cosmos & culture blog, and frequent guest on radio and television shows that explore subjects related to science.  On Wednesday, July 18, Gleiser is giving a public reading in Baker-Berry, a rare opportunity for the Dartmouth and surrounding communities to hear Gleiser read from his more popular work.  We hope you can join us.

What is your book about?

Simple Beauty is about our search for meaning in a strange and unpredictable world. I tell my own story as a scientist and a learning fly fisherman to illustrate our quest to engage with nature and our inner selves. The book is a manifesto for life.

Where do you get your idea [for this book]?

After one of my fly fishing trips, I realized it was an apprenticeship that had much to say about how we fit within nature and about going beyond limits and obstacles to learning. It's a grand metaphor for life that I wanted to share with people.

What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?

Research is the act of engaging with the unknown. Despite its rational, technical aspects, there is something magical about it, as we search for answers to new questions about the world and how we fit in. The process of searching is the lifeblood of re-search which, I always like to say, means we search and we search again. Sometimes frustrating, but, in the end, deeply satisfying.

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

It will be a living, world-wide-connected, repository of accumulated knowledge, an ever-sprawling gateway, as it has always been, to human creativity and its many fruits. It will encompass all kinds of information in all kinds of platforms, from books to virtual-reality experiences of the world and culture.

What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?

To always write your ideas down and to not be afraid to put your soul into your work. It's the only way to make it truly meaningful.

And finally, what do you read for fun?

Ha! Good question. I love historical fiction and try to read it any chance I have. I also love books about running and the outdoors, given that I am a devoted trail runner myself.

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