Bulent Atalay on the Transgressive Minds of Geniuses
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on Keen On
Hosted by Andrew Keen, Keen On features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the economic, political, and technological issues being discussed in the news, right now.
Andrew talks to Bulent Atalay, author of Beyond Genius, about how Shakespeare, Da Vinci, Newton, Beethoven, and Einstein all shared the same kind of transgressive minds.
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Bulent Atalay is a scientist, artist and author. After his participation in a scientifically incongruous archaeological expedition to Mt. Ararat in Eastern Turkey — one in which the late astronaut James Irwin was also a member — the Washington Post carried the story, “Indiana Atalay and the Search for the Ark.” With roots in Turkey and England, Atalay now resides in the United States. His grandfather was a Turkish military officer who survived the Battle of Gallipoli in WWI, only to die while fighting against Lawrence of Arabia in 1916. His father was a military officer and diplomat who served as diplomatic courier to European capitals during WWII, and subsequently held successive assignments as military attaché to London, Paris, and Washington. Read “A Tribute to Kemal Atalay.” He received his early schooling at Eton in England and St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware, the institution which served as the site of the 1989 Robin Williams film, Dead Poets Society. He went into physics by accident when a secretary in the admissions office at Georgetown University read his intended career as “physicist” instead of “physician,” and he stayed in physics when he found he had latent interest in the field. His advanced education includes BS, MS, MA, PhD and postdoctoral studies, completed at Georgetown, Princeton, University of California-Berkeley, and Oxford University. A professor of physics in Virginia now, he has previously been a member of the Department of Theoretical Physics at the University of Oxford, as well as the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where Einstein spent the last twenty-five years of his life. An accomplished artist, Atalay has presented his works in one-man exhibitions in London and Washington, and his two books of lithographs — Lands of Washington and Oxford and the English Countryside — can be found in the permanent collections of Buckingham Palace, the Smithsonian, and the White House. Ten years after its release by Smithsonian Books in April 2004, his best selling book, Math and the Mona Lisa, has had numerous printings in English, and appeared in thirteen languages. His last book, Leonardo’s Universe, coauthored with former student Keith Wamsley, was released by National Geographic Books in 2009, and declared “… one of ten must-have books for the year,” by the Britannica Blog writer. It has appeared in English and Japanese. In April, 2019, the National Geographic Society released the book as a “bookazine,” abridged to 25,000 words with the title Leonardo da Vinci: Celebrating the Renaissance Man.