Leonard Mlodinow is a theoretical physicist and author, recognized for groundbreaking discoveries in physics, and as the author of five best-selling books.
He was born in Chicago, Illinois, of parents who were both Holocaust survivors. His father, who spent more than a year in the Buchenwald concentration camp, had been a leader in the Jewish resistance in his hometown of Częstochowa, in Nazi Germany-occupied Poland. 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.
He completed a doctorate on quantum perturbation theory at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1981, and joined the faculty at Caltech. Later, he worked as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics in Munich, Germany.
By 1985, Mlodinow had left academia to become a writer. He has written books on popular science, and the screenplay for the 2009 film Beyond the Horizon and for television series including Star Trek: The Next Generation and MacGyver.