Paul Hoffman, the President and CEO of Liberty Science Center and the Creative Director of Beyond Rubik’s Cube, is a journalist and biographer whose work explores the relationship between genius, madness, obsession and creativity. He is the author of 11 books, most recently a memoir about the world of championship chess, 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 the basis of a television documentary for Nova. Academy Award-winner Chris Wedge (Ice Age) has acquired the theatrical film rights to Wings of Madness. Mr. Hoffman’s 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. He is the recipient of the first National Magazine Award for feature writing.
Hoffman has been a top media executive. He was the long-time president and editor in chief of Discover magazine, the president and publisher of Encyclopaedia Britannica, and, most recently, the editorial chairman of the video-interview website BigThink.
He is a noted expert on the public understanding of science, and has advised NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Hoffman, who was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College.
As a television personality, Hoffman has performed wacky mathematical paper tricks on Late Night with David Letterman and appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show as the sole guest for an entire show. He worked with the magician David Blaine to kick off a chess match between two Russian champions in the ABC Studios in Times Square, where he also served as the master of ceremonies for three highly publicized chess events. He was the color commentator for 17 hours of live chess on ESPN, the on-air science essayist for PBS NewsHour, and the host of the five-part PBS series Discovering the Great Minds of Science.
He has edited the writing of Oliver Sacks, Jared Diamond, Sherwin Nuland and Nobel laureates Francis Crick, Steven Weinberg, and Leon Lederman. He has conducted long video interviews with Noam Chomsky, Richard Dawkins, Ray Kurzweil, Penn Jillette, Aubrey de Grey, Annie Duke, Michio Kaku, Anatoly Karpov, Arianna Huffington, Ed Koch, Jonathan Irving, Gay Talese, Jonathan Ames, and Nobel laureates James Watson and Orhan Pamuk. He moderated a long radio debate between E.O. Wilson and the late Stephen Jay Gould. He has done stand-up storytelling at the Moth along with Nobel laureate Paul Nurse. 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.
Hoffman has moonlighted as a paradoxologist. Under the nom de plume Dr. Crypton, he created brain teasers, buried treasure hunts, and elaborate puzzle contests for clients such as Sharp and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Dr. Crypton received a screen credit for his work on the movie Romancing the Stone. Chicago magazine called Dr. Crypton “the smartest man in the world,” but Hoffman says they must have caught him on a particularly good day.
As a child, Hoffman split his time between Manhattan’s West Village and Westport, CT. These days he lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and a 300-year-old converted barn in the Catskills, sometimes with his teenage son. A food entrepreneur, he is co-owner of two Brooklyn restaurants, Rucola and BrisketTown, and is an investor in Kitchensurfing. Hoffman is known for his long, exploratory walks around New York City. The New York Times called him “Mayor of Strange Places."Our Board of Trustees
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