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The Mathematician&#039;s Shiva - Stuart Rojstaczer - <span class="date-display-single">10/23/2015 - 3:30pm</span>

The Mathematician's Shiva

10/23/2015 - 3:30pm

- Chamberlain Hall - Room 2241

Just Because We’re Smart Doesn’t Mean We’re Crazy and Evil: Giving Scientists & Mathematicians a Fair Shake in Literary Fiction
How scientists are characterized in popular culture and the artslikely plays a role in how much impact their opinions and research results have upon society. I am well aware, given my lengthy history as a research scientist, that much good science gets willfully ignored and dismissed in the political arena and by the public partly because they have a negative view of scientists that comes from popular culture. As a writer of literary fiction, I feel a political obligation to portray scientists and their work with realistic depth. How does one get past the societal cliché of scientists and mathematicians being socially withdrawn, eccentric, emotionally stunted and ultimately less than human? One approach is to ignore this cliché entirely and to portray them as, more or less, ordinary people who happen to work as scientists and mathematicians. Another approach is to embrace the cliché initially in order to attract an audience and then to subvert it. This latter approach is the one I prefer and employed in my latest novel, The Mathematician’s Shiva. 

About The Mathematician's Shiva:
When the greatest female mathematician in history passes away, her son, Alexander "Sasha" Karnokovitch, just wants to mourn his mother in peace. But rumor has it the notoriously eccentric Polish Emigre has solved one of the most difficult problems in all of mathematics, and has spitefully taken the solution to her grave. As a ragtag group of mathematicians from around the world descends upon Rachela's shiva, determined to find the proof or solve it for themselves--even if it means prying up the floorboards for notes or desperately scrutinizing the mutterings of her African Grey parrot--Sasha must come to terms with his mother's outsized influence on his life.
Spanning decades and continents, from a crowded living room in Madison, Wisconsin, to the windswept beach on the Barents Sea where a young Rachela had her first mathematical breakthrough, The Mathematician's Shiva is an unexpectedly moving and uproariously funny novel that captures humanity's drive not just to survive, but to achieve the impossible.
Presented in partnership with the Department of Physics Colloquium and the Wisconsin Science Festival.

Stuart Rojstaczer

About Presenter Stuart Rojstaczer


Stuart Rojstaczer was raised in Milwaukee and has degrees from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Illinois, and Stanford. He is the author of Gone for Good, and has received the National Jewish Book Award for Outstanding Debut Fiction. For many years, he was a professor of geophysics at Duke University. He lives in Northern California.


The Mathematician's Shiva

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