Clifford A. Pickover is an American author, editor, and columnist in the fields of science, mathematics, and science fiction, and is employed at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown, New York.
He received his Ph.D.
from Yale University
's Department of Molecular Biophysics
, where he conducted research on X-ray
scattering and protein structure. Pickover graduated first in his class from Franklin and Marshall College
, after completing the four-year undergraduate program in three years.
He joined IBM at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in 1982, as a member of the speech synthesis group and later worked on the design-automation workstations. For much of his career, Pickover has published technical articles in the areas of scientific visualization, computer art, and recreational mathematics. Currently, he is still at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.
He is currently an associate editor for the scientific journal Computers and Graphics and is an editorial board member for Odyssey and Leonardo. He is also the Brain-Strain columnist for Odyssey magazine, and, for many years, he was the Brain-Boggler columnist for Discover magazine.
Pickover has received over 50 invention achievement awards, three research division awards, and four external honor awards.
Pickover's primary interest is in finding new ways to expand creativity by melding art, science, mathematics, and other seemingly disparate areas of human endeavor. Pickover is an inventor with dozens of patents, the author of puzzle calendars, and puzzle contributor to magazines geared to children and adults. His Neoreality and Heaven Virus science-fiction series explores the fabric of reality and religion.
Pickover is author of hundreds of technical papers in diverse fields, ranging from the creative visualizations of fossil seashells,
genetic sequences, cardiac and speech sounds, and virtual caverns and lava lamps, to fractal and mathematically based studies . He also has published articles in the areas of skepticism (e.g. ESP and Nostradamus), psychology (e.g. temporal lobe epilepsy and genius), and technical speculation (e.g. “What if scientists had found a computer in 1900?” and “An informal survey on the scientific and social impact of a soda can-sized super-super computer.”) Additional visualization work includes topics that involve breathing motions of proteins, snow-flake like patterns for speech sounds, cartoon-face representations of data , and biomorphs.
On November 4, 2006, he began Wikidumper.org, a popular blog featuring articles being considered for deletion by Wikipedia.
refer to certain kinds of details that are empirically found in the Mandelbrot set
in the study of fractal geometry
. In the 1980s, Pickover proposed that experimental mathematicians and computer artists examine the behavior of orbit trajectories for the Mandelbrot in order to study how closely the orbits of interior points
come to the x and y axes in the complex plane. In some renditions of this behavior, the closer that the point approaches, the higher up the color scale, with red denoting the closest approach. The logarithm of the distance is taken to accentuate the details. This work grew from his earlier work with Julia sets and "Pickover biomorphs," the latter of which often resembled microbes.
Frontiers of Scientific Visualization
In "Frontiers of Scientific Visualization" (1994) Pickover explore the art and science of making the unseen workings of nature visible. The books contains contributions on Fluid flow, fractals, plant growth, genetic sequencing, the configuration of distant galaxies, virtual reality to artistic inspiration. This work explores the many ways in which computers are now used as tools for simulation, art and discovery.
Visualizing Biological Information
In "Visualizing Biological Information" (1995) Pickover biological data of all kinds, which is proliferating at an incredible rate. If humans attempt to read such data in the form of numbers and letters, they will take in the information at a snail's pace. If the information is rendered graphically, however, human analysts can assimilate it and gain insight much faster. The emphasis of this work is on the novel graphical and musical representation of information containing sequences, such as DNA and amino acid sequences, to help us find hidden pattern and meaning.
Vampire numbers and other mathematical highlights
In mathematics, a vampire number
or true vampire number
is a composite natural number v
, with an even number of digits n
, that can be factored into two integers x
each with n
/2 digits and not both with trailing zeroes, where v
contains all the digits from x
and from y
, in any order. x
are called the fangs
As an example, 1260 is a vampire number because it can be expressed as 21 × 60 = 1260.
Note that the digits of the factors 21 and 60 can be found, in some scrambled order, in 1260.
Similarly, 136,948 is a vampire because 136,948 = 146 × 938.
Vampire numbers first appeared in a 1994 post by Clifford A. Pickover to the Usenet group sci.math, and the article he later wrote was published in chapter 30 of his book Keys to Infinity.
In addition to “Vampire numbers”,
a term Pickover actually coined, he has coined the following terms in the area of mathematics:
Carotid-Kundalini function and fractal,
Legion’s number, among others.
For characterizing noisy data, he has used Truchet tiles
Noise spheres, the later of which is a term he coined for a particular mapping, and visualization, of noisy data to spherical coordinates.
In 1990, he asked “Is There a Double Smoothly Undulating Integer?”,
and he computed
“All Known Replicating Fibonacci Digits Less then One Billion" .
With his colleague John R. Hendricks, he was the first to compute the smallest perfect (nasik) magic tesseract.
The “Pickover sequence” dealing with e and pi was named after him,
as was the “Cliff random number generator”
and the Pickover attractor, sometimes also referred to as the Clifford Attractor.
Culture, Religion, Belief
Starting in about 2001, Pickover’s books sometimes began to include topics beyond his traditional focus on science and mathematics. For example, Dreaming the Future discusses various methods of divination that humans have used since stone-age times. The Paradox of God deals with topics in religion. Perhaps the most obvious departure from his earlier works includes Sex, Drugs, Einstein, and Elves: Sushi, Psychedelics, Parallel Universes, and the Quest for Transcendence, which explores the “borderlands of science” and is “part memoir and part surrealist perspective on culture.”. Pickover follows-up his “quest for transcendence” and examination of popular culture with A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality: Extraordinary People, Alien Brains, and Quantum Resurrection.
is a website created by Pickover that promises to permanently record a snapshot of the "best of the Wikipedia
rejects", articles that are slated for deletion at the Wikipedia. WikiDumper was launched on Nov 4 2006, and accepts user submissions. Although the site doesn't specify its criteria for inclusion, many of its articles don't cite
their sources. The site has been criticized as likely to be less accurate than Wikipedia.
Pickover is author of over 35 books on such topics as computers and creativity, art, mathematics, black holes, human behavior and intelligence, time travel, alien life, Einstein, religion, dimethyltryptamine elves, parallel universes, the nature of genius, and science fiction. Books:
- 1990. Computers, Pattern, Chaos, and Beauty. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-486-41709-3
- 1991. Computers and the Imagination. St. Martin's Press.
- 1992. Mazes for the Mind. St. Martin's Press.
- 1994. Chaos in Wonderland. St. Martin's Press.
- 1995. Keys to Infinity. Wiley.
- 1996. Black Holes: A Traveler's Guide. Wiley.
- 1997. The Alien IQ Test. Basic Books.
- 1997. The Loom of God. Plenum.
- 1998. Spider Legs. With Piers Anthony TOR.
- 1998. The Science of Aliens. Basic Books.
- 1998. Time: A Traveler's Guide. Oxford University Press.
- 1999. Strange Brains and Genius. Quill.
- 1999. Surfing Through Hyperspace. Oxford University Press.
- 2000. Cryptorunes: Codes and Secret Writing. Pomegranate.
- 2000. The Girl Who Gave Birth to Rabbits. Prometheus.
- 2000. Wonders of Numbers. Oxford University Press.
- 2001. Dreaming the Future. Prometheus.
- 2001. The Stars of Heaven. Oxford University Press.
- 2002. The Zen of Magic Squares, Circles, and Stars. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11597-4
- 2002. The Mathematics of Oz. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-01678-9
- 2002. The Paradox of God and the Science of Omniscience. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 1-4039-6457-2
- 2003. Calculus and Pizza. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-26987-5
- 2005. Sex, Drugs, Einstein, and Elves. Smart Publications. ISBN 1-890572-17-9
- 2005. A Passion for Mathematics, John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-69098-8
- 2006. The Mobius Strip, Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-826-8
- 2007. A Beginner's Guide to Immortality. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 978-1560259848
- 2007. The Heaven Virus. Lulu. ISBN 978-1430329695
- 2008. Archimedes to Hawking: Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195336115
- Mind-Bending Puzzles (calendars & cards), Pomegranate, each year
Neoreality science fiction series
- 2002. Liquid Earth. The Lighthouse Press, Inc.
- 2002. The Lobotomy Club. The Lighthouse Press, Inc.
- 2002. Sushi Never Sleeps. The Lighthouse Press, Inc.
- 2002. Egg Drop Soup. The Lighthouse Press, Inc. ISBN 0-9714827-9-9
- 1992. Spiral Symmetry, World Scientific. ISBN 981-02-0615-1
- 1993. Visions of the Future: St. Martin's Press.
- 1994. Frontiers of Scientific Visualization. Wiley.
- 1995. Future Health: Computers & Medicine in the 21st Century. St. Martin's Press.
- 1995. 'The Pattern Book: Fractals, Art, and Nature''. World Scientific.
- 1995. Visualizing Biological Information. World Scientific.
- 1996. Fractal Horizons. St. Martin's Press,
- 1998. Chaos and Fractals. Elsevier.