Paul Hoffman is the president and CEO of Liberty Science Center, a 300,000 square-foot learning center in Liberty State Park on the Jersey City bank of the Hudson. LSC is visited by 600,000 people a year and is home to the nation's largest IMAX domed theater. He is the creative director of Beyond Rubik's Cube, a major traveling museum exhibition designed by LSC and Google to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the iconic puzzle toy. Hoffman is known as a journalist and biographer whose work explores the relationship between genius, madness, obsession, and creativity. But there are 168 hours in every week, and so he is also co-owner of two Brooklyn restaurants, Rucola in Boerum Hill and BrisketTown in Williamsburg, and is an investor in Kitchensurfing, Spuni, and RockPaperRobot. The recipient of the first National Magazine Award for feature writing, Hoffman is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was the editorial chairman of the video interview Web site Big Think, the president and publisher of Encyclopaedia Britannica, and the long-time president and editor in chief of Discover, the science magazine. He is a "brain-storming" expert who has worked with Internet startups, publishers, advertising agencies, museums, and scientific organizations. He has advised NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a Moth storyteller and a popular speaker at corporate and professional gatherings.
Hoffman is the author of eleven books, most recently a memoir, King's Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World's Most Dangerous Game. His previous book, Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Invention of Flight, was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was developed into a television documentary for "Nova." His first biography, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdös and the Search for Mathematical Truth, was an international bestseller; published in 16 languages, it received the Rhone-Poulenc prize for best science book of the year. Hoffman has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, Seed, Smithsonian, Harvard Magazine, and Wired.
Under the nom de plume Dr. Crypton, he has also published brain teasers and created elaborate puzzle contests. He designed the puzzle for Treasure: In Search of the Golden Horse, a lavishly illustrated fairy tale that contained clues to the whereabouts of an actual buried treasure: a sculpted gold horse (2.2 lbs. of 24 karat gold) whose latched belly concealed the key to a safe deposit box containing a certificate for half-a-million dollars. The puzzle was ultimately solved, after the five-year deadline, by an F.B.I. agent and a deputy prosecutor in Los Angeles.
Hoffman is also a television personality. As a commentator on science, he has given more than one hundred broadcast interviews, including on CNN, NPR, the BBC, "Good Morning America," and "CBS This Morning." He was the on-camera science essayist for "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" and the host of the five-part public-television series "Great Minds of Science." He has performed mathematical paper-folding tricks on "David Letterman" and was on "Oprah" for an entire show, discussing—not his dysfunctional upbringing—but the headier, un-Oprahlike subject of the future of technology. He was the color commentator on ESPN for 17 hours of live coverage of the man v. machine chess match between Garry Kasparov and the German calculating monster Deep Fritz.
Hoffman was graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College. Chicago magazine once called him "the smartest man in the world," but he says the editors caught him on a particularly good day. Hoffman's own obsessions include triskaidekaphobia and Meryl Streep. According to National Public Radio, Ms. Streep could have had a date with Hoffman at the 2009 Oscars if she had not been so preoccupied with tomatoes. He has played chess with Garry Kasparov, and he was taken into custody in Libya when he tried to play chess with Muammar el-Qaddafi.
high resolution images: 1.2mb JPEG.