Meet a Mentor is a biweekly (twice a week) series to help you get to know your wonderful Mentors better.
Constructive questions and comments are welcome!
Today we meet: Evo
Can you give us a brief bio?
I’ve been in love with science as long as I can remember. As soon as I began to read I gravitated toward books about science and the mysteries of the world. I would be given those “answer books” that taught things such as the tensil strength of a spider’s silk compared to steel. Just fascinating little blurbs. Remember, when I was little, there was no cable tv or internet. The tiny branch library was miles away, and the librarian was always taking the book I was interested in away and walking me back to the children’s section.
Luckily my mom realized I wanted more science and bought two sets of encyclopedias and sets of books about science, biology, archaeology and astronomy. I read all of them. Finally for my 12th birthday I got my subscription to Scientific American, with it came two books, one was titled “The physics of phenomena” IIRC. I was hooked on physics after that.
I had a microscope and would make my own slides. I also had a telescope, and would go to the planetarium often.
To make a long story short, I finished High School at age 14, decided to go to France and visit my mom’s family, returned to the US and began college at age 16. My dad was paying for my college and living expenses and he said no to anything in the sciences (I loved both cosmology and archaeology), so he picked out my courses, business.
Along the way, I voluntered at a radio station and our radio tower got bombed by the KKK, Arlo Guthrie was playing on the air when the bombing occurred, so a popular PBS show, The Great American Dream Machine, asked him to write a song about the bombing. They placed me next to Arlo for the tv show and I got to sing the “Bomb Song”.
What do you find interesting about gardening and do you have a favorite plant?
Watching plants putting out new life just filled me with amazement. Seeing a seed put forth a new plant, or a dormant tree that seemed lifeless putting out new leaves and flowers. I loved it I started growing everything. I ordered rare seeds and had a nice greenhouse. I used to be a member of both the American Rose Society and the local chapter, I had over 80 bushes. I lived in the south, so we could have roses blooming on Christmas day due to the very short dormant period. I went a bit crazy and planted in “themes”, I had Bob Hope planted next to Bing Crosby, Ginger Rogers next to Fred Astaire, etc. I won some landscaping competitions and it’s something I’ve always had a passion for.
You’re known to be a fan of chocolate. Dark or Milk and why? Favorite flavor?
Dark. There is no other. Do not come near me with wimpy, milky impersonations. I love the bittersweet type, I’m not a lover of sweets.
What are your favorite books?
As a child I read all of the great science fiction books and short stories. Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov, Anderson, I had quite a collection. As I got older, I got into Fantasy – Jordan, Eddings, Feist, Weis and Hickman, Terry Brooks. Loved Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson.
I’m also a huge ancient history buff. I love to travel and I have been to Mexico, Europe, Japan and Thailand. I am fascinated by other cultures.
Every tv show I get into gets canceled. Right now I’m enjoying “Elementary”. Mostly I watch cooking shows and science documentaries, although the quality of the latter has decreased to the point where it’s more about special effects with some so-so science tossed in.
I was brought up on classical music and my elementary school had a program that would take children to listen to the local symphony orchestra on Saturdays. In my teens my taste was underground music and now it’s Indie. I love the 69 love songs set by the Magnetic Fields.
My mother was from France, so just about everything we ate was fresh and homemade. My paternal grandmother was British, so roast beef and yorkshire pudding on Sunday was a must. Cooking has always been a passion of mine. I remember when I was eight and made my own pyhllo dough for baklava. That’s when I discovered why no sane person makes their own phyllo, but the baklava was incredible. I’ve won every cooking contest I’ve entered, so it’s nice to know that others, besides friends and family, enjoy my food.
I love animals, I used to donate quite a bit when I had more money. Since the loves of my life Dr Foofer and The Fruit Bat passed away, I decided to take in a senior chihuahua rescue. It turned out she’s also a special needs dog with serious heart and lung problems. So I dote on the cranky little love dog.
As the leader of the PF Sisterhood, can you fill us in on it’s philosophy and recent activities?
The PF sisterhood started when Ivan Seeking’s wife Tsu and I realized how much alike we were. (Although she’s much funnier) We obviously had been separated at birth. Soon, more sisters were brought in (the women of GD) and the requirement was everyone had to wear a size 8 shoe, (except Tsu, size 6 and then lisab size 9). After I went through a couple of doomed attempts at a relationship, I decided to “get me to a nunnery” and the other sisters all decided to become nuns to support me. Of course, we became the infamous gang “The Nuns With Guns”.
What do you think is special about PF and why do you continue to mentor?
When I first started searching for information on string theory, it seemed PF had the best discussions and the most knowledgeable people. I knew this was a place where I could learn and that didn’t allow crackpottery, which is what I wanted. The people here were a notch above those I found at other forums that were open to the public, I never left.
Do you have a favorite thread at PF?
The Kitten Thread!!! Can’t have a bad day if you visit the Kitten Thread!
Over the years what are some of your favorite moments in General Discussion?
There are so many. I suggest people check out the GD Classics here.
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=42220 The New Year’s Eve when we all made cartoon videos was hilarious. Those were awesome, but they all got deleted by the hosting service when they upgraded. The “thread killer’s thread” was probably the the most long term fun we’ve had. It was the right mix of people at the right time. Magic happened.
Is there a recent development in science/tech that excites you?
Regenerative medicine. The advancements in biological scaffolding for tissue engineering. The fact that we will be able to “custom grow” replacement parts for the body is fascinating.
Thanks for participating Evo! Next interview will be posted next Thursday!
I have a BS in Information Sciences from UW-Milwaukee. I’ve helped manage Physics Forums for over 17 years. I enjoy learning and discussing new science developments. STEM communication and policy are big interests as well. I have a lovely wife and a cat named Mason.