One of the things we want to do here at Trust & Treachery is give you a chance to get to meet our authors. Over the next few weeks, you will see bios and Q&As for our amazing contributors. Today is Demetrios Matsakis. Stay tuned as additional authors are added every Monday.
Editors, Trust & Treachery
I realized I wanted to be an astronomer when in the third grade, and coincidentally at about that time I was very lucky to learn about dinosaurs from a Native-American archaeologist. But when I went to MIT there was no astronomy or archaeology major, so I majored in physics. As a graduate student at Berkeley I built masers to study interstellar molecular clouds, such as the ammonia and alcohol-rich ones in the Orion nebula. My thesis advisor was Charles Townes, who won the Nobel Prize for inventing the maser and later the laser. After I graduated the navy hired me to work on an interferometer to observe quasars at the edge of the known universe, so as to measure the variable rotation of the Earth. I also built water vapor radiometers, did atmospheric modeling, and conducted studies on pulsars as clocks. I am now director of the U.S. Naval Observatory’s Time Service department, which sets the time for GPS, and therefore for much of the world. Although I have published over 100 papers in scientific journals, this is my first publication that is entirely fiction.
Do you have any recent events to announce (of publications or anything else exciting)?
I’m working with an American group trying to confirm or contradict the CERN experiment that showed neutrinos travelling faster than light.
What inspired you to write this story?
The idea came to me about 25 years ago, and I’ve thought about it off and on. Two years ago I started writing and rewriting it in earnest.
What books and/or authors have most influenced you?
Homer, Plato, and Isaac Asimov
What are you reading now?
The Instructions for Form 1040, published by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service
What are your current projects?
I have some ideas for other stories that involve futuristic societies, but I’m also trying to patent two things.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
The same advice I have for investors – observe my strategies, and then do the opposite.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
The past is not much more understandable than the future.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
“The greatest pleasure is the anticipation of pleasure”, by me. And “politics is the art of using blunt instruments to achieve blunt ends”, also by me.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
Taking over a scientific department that was in shambles and building it up, blunder by blunder, to where it is almost as efficient as people thought it was all along – all the while trying to do some science in the hours after people started leaving for the day. Of course raising two children was harder still, but I’m not allowed to brag about them.
What inspires you to write and why?
Athena, because she is always near me.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
One reject letter said only “next time put more space between paragraphs”, but long ago the class valedictorian told me she read a story of mine three times.
Tell us something unusual (or fun) about you.
Some people think I joke a lot, but they are wrong.