A NASA astrophysicist narrates his improbable journey from an impoverished childhood and an adolescence mired in drugs and crime to the nation's top physics PhD program at Stanford in this inspiring coming-of-age memoir.
Born into extreme poverty and emotional deprivation, James Edward Plummer was blessed with a genius I.Q. and a love of science. But in his community, a young bookworm quickly becomes a target for violence and abuse. As he struggles to survive his childhood in some of the toughest cities in the country, and his teenage years in the equally poor backwoods of Mississippi, James adopts the hybrid persona of a "gangsta nerd"--dealing weed in juke joints while winning state science fairs with computer programs that untangle the mysteries of Einstein's relativity theory.
When his prodigious intellect gains him admission to the elite Physics PhD program at Stanford University, James finds himself torn between his love of science and a dangerous crack cocaine habit he developed in college. With the encouragement of his mentor Art Walker, the lone Black faculty member in the physics department, James finally seizes his dream of a life in science and becomes his true adult self, changing his name to Hakeem Muata Oluseyi in honor--and celebration--of his African heritage.
In the tradition of The Autobiography of Malcolm X and The Other Wes Moore, A Quantum Life is an uplifting journey to the stars fueled by hope, hustle, and a hungry mind. As he charts his development as a young scientist, Oluseyi also plumbs the mysteries of the universe where potential personal outcomes are as infinite as the stars in the sky.
About the Author
Hakeem Oluseyi is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, inventor, educator, television personality, and public speaker. Since 2007, he has been a professor of physics and space sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology, and has served at Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He appears regularly on the Science Channel's highly popular program, Outrageous Acts of Science, as well as other science shows produced by Discovery, Inc.
Joshua Horwitz is the author of the New York Times bestseller War of the Whales: A True Story, which won the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.