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Research Writer Interview With Pierre

Math And Physics Research


Hello Pierre. Please tell us a little about your academic background and what skills you bring to the table.

Let's see, I have an undergraduate degree in engineering, chemical engineering to be precise, and I have completed a graduate degree in mathematics, both from Research I universities. Of course, as part of my graduate degree I conducted original research in theoretical mathematics and wrote a dissertation. In other words, what I bring to the table is a deep awareness of, and proficiency in, a number of very technical fields. But more importantly, I also bring an understanding of how research in a technical topic is done, as well as, confidence in my abilities to do it.

Based on your background and skills, what kinds of writing do you do? What kinds of projects to you like best? And while we are at it, what motivates you?

I think I'll start by answering the "what motivates you" question. I love learning. It really is as simple as that. I love to learn new things, new topics, new ideas; there is something about learning that keeps one's mind young, that gives meaning to life. Besides mathematics, physics, history, political science, and international affairs all fascinate me; each one is a different ways of viewing and understanding the world we live in. So, I would say that I am best suited to write essays, not only about mathematics, engineering, and physics topics, but about history, political science, and international affairs as well.

Do you think writers are born or made?

They are born. No, wait... they are made. No, no. Hold on... they are both born and made. I don't think anyone would argue with the observation that some people just seem to be better at some things than others. That is just part of our experience of the world. I'm good at math. I've always been good at math. I couldn't draw a self-portrait that was actually recognizable as me to save my life, and I've never managed a grade better than B- in any foreign language class I've ever taken, but I'm good at math. So, we all have natural abilities. But, that doesn't mean that we can't learn. If there is one thing that I've discovered as I get older, the brain is amazing. Just because I'm not gifted with innate abilities in languages or art doesn't mean that I couldn't learn Portuguese or how to paint. Maybe I'll never be as fluent as a native speaker, or I'll never have my artwork displayed in a gallery, but I can, with enough work and effort and perseverance, reach some level of competence. But you know what? Even though I would say that I'm gifted in mathematics, that doesn't always mean it comes easy. It doesn't mean I don't have to work, and work really hard, at it. Whether or not someone has natural abilities, the only way to improve is through sustained and diligent effort. So, this is all just a long winded way of saying that some people are gifted writers and others aren't, but I think that anyone, with dedication and work, can become, at bare minimum, a competent writer!

On a lighter side, who are your favorite authors, and why?

Ah, a fun question! I don't have a single favorite author, but I guess I'd rank Lynn Flewelling, Storm Consantine, Donald Kingsburry, Vernor Vinge, and Jane Austen as all among my top five. First of all, all of them have a real ear for language. While their writing styles are very different, I would have to say that their use of language and words, their description and character development, their subtlety and humor, are all amazing. There is nothing that turns me off of a novel like poor writing, but I feel that these writers are at the top of their craft for a variety of reasons. While I am a huge science fiction and fantasy fan, four of the five authors I've mentioned write in these genres, well-written books are very difficult to come across. So, if you like sci-fi or fantasy, or the occasional nineteenth century romance, I'd highly recommend checking one of them out!

What are your eventual career goals, and does writing play a role in them?

I'm not sure if I have yet managed to decide what I want to be when I grow up, but whatever it is I certainly hope that writing will play a role in it. One thing I would honestly like to try my hand at is writing mathematics and physics textbooks. There have been more than a few times when I've been frustrated by the lack of level-appropriate texts. I'd also like to try my hand a writing either science fiction or fantasy.



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