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Cormac McCarthy’s Love for Science and Mathematics

His interest in science and mathematics were not extraneous hobbies but performed a strong role in the fiction he wrote

The late novelist Cormac McCarthy passed away on June 13th in Santa Fe, leaving a legacy of fictional works grappling with fate, masculine alienation, and the possibility of a transcendent reality. McCarthy’s two last books, The Passenger and Stella Maris, which are intended to be read together, are about a brother and sister who are both brilliant mathematicians, and whose father helped craft the atomic bomb with the Manhattan Project. McCarthy’s work is haunted both by a bleak fatalism and glimpses of an enduring reality beyond the merely physical. His interest in science and mathematics were not extraneous hobbies; they performed a strong role in the fiction he wrote. Nick Romeo writes at Scientific American, Science is also a source Read More ›

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Is Mathematics an Illusion? Lawrence Krauss and Cormac McCarthy Discuss

McCarthy asked, "Would mathematics be here if we weren't?"

In December, physicist and author Lawrence Krauss interviewed the late American novelist Cormac McCarthy, who died on June 13th at the age of 89 in Santa Fe, N.M. McCarthy is famous for his remarkable fictional works like The Road and Blood Meridian, but he was also deeply fascinated with mathematics and science. Apparently, he enjoyed reading science more than he did fiction! He moved to Santa Fe from El Paso to be closer to the Santa Fe Institute, a science think tank where McCarthy would spend time speaking with various physicists, scientists, and mathematicians. His latest two novels, The Passenger and Stella Maris, are about a brother and sister who are both brilliant mathematicians. Towards the beginning of the interview, Read More ›

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Cormac McCarthy, Author of “The Road” & “Blood Meridian,” Dead at 89

McCarthy thought that if the book didn't deal staunchly with matters of life and death, it was best left unwritten

American author Cormac McCarthy, who was known for his dark and often macabre novels, died on June 13th at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 89. McCarthy was one of America’s most formidable and talented authors. He began his career in Tennessee, writing novels primarily about Appalachia. He moved to El Paso in 1976, where, thanks to funding from the MacArthur Foundation, he wrote Blood Meridian, a ruthless tale of vagabond outlaws wandering Texas and Mexico on scalping expeditions. Many critics find this to be his best work. McCarthy went on to write The Road, a post-apocalyptic novel published in 2006, which he dedicated to his son, John. The Road tells the story of a father and his Read More ›

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Some Questions and Answers About Language From Recent Research

The hardest language, the best way to learn a language, and peering into the shadowy origin of language

Can there be such a thing as “the hardest language to learn”? At ZME Science, science writer Tibi Puiu dives into the question, starting with the assumption that the learner is an English speaker: After 70 years of experience teaching languages to American diplomats, the U.S. Foreign Service has grouped foreign languages into four categories of difficulty. The easiest language group requires 575-600 hours of study (23-24 weeks of classroom study) for students to achieve sufficient competence to be posted overseas, whereas the hardest group requires at least 2,200 hours of study (88 weeks of full-time classroom study) to achieve the same level of proficiency. In other words, some languages can be 3-4 times harder to master than others. Tibi Read More ›