Died: Not yet, but I'll get to it, just give me some time. So will you, for that matter. Not being morbid, but just look around. People tend to end up dead.
Skills: Physicist, writer, computer geek.
Hometown: I'm an army brat, so I lived in several different places while growing up -- mostly in Germany, Kansas, and California. The bottom line is that I don't really know where I'm from, but when people ask, I usually say I grew up in Ogden, Kansas, population about 2,000. It's right outside Fort Riley, and I was there from second grade to seventh. After that, I spent two wonderful and difficult years in Frankfurt, Germany before coming back to the states. I did all four years of high school at Monterey Bay Academy, in Watsonville, California. The school is right on the beach, but somehow we all got an education. Sort of.
Awards: The only serious award I ever won came right at the tail end of high school, back in 1976. I was named a finalist in the Presidential Scholars Program. Basically, the government picked out the top 500 scorers on the SAT and ACT exams and annoyed us with long questionnaires and difficult essay questions until we freaked. Things like "Name the world's most serious problem. Now solve it." I sometimes wonder what they did with our answers. I won't tell you what I thought was the most serious problem back then, but I had some wacky solution that wouldn't work. More recently, I've won some awards for my writing. See below for details.
College: I went to Pacific Union College, in Angwin, California, where I majored in math and physics. I've always considered myself more a physicist than a mathematician. I also did a lot of computer programming on my own time, just because I like to. So of course, when I took the GRE exams, I did best in English. Go figure.
Graduate School: I chose the University of California at Berkeley, where I got my M.A. and Ph.D. in physics, specializing in elementary particle theory. Most of my work was in nonperturbative methods in quantum field theory. My thesis was titled "Accelerating the Loop Expansion," which should be self-explanatory, but somehow isn't, at least not to most people. In simple terms, I showed how to reduce the Schwinger-Dyson equations for the effective action to a self-consistent expansion that you could integrate numerically. Simple, no? Before I wrote my thesis, I also fiddled some with solitons and the gauged Wess-Zumino effective action.
Postdoctoral Work: I did a two-year stint at The Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio. I worked on superstring theory and had a lot of fun with the Batalin-Fradkin-Vilkovisky formulation of constrained Hamiltonian systems. Impressed? I didn't think so, but doggone it, you should be.
Real World Experience: After I got the academic thing out of my system, I took a job at Maxwell Laboratories, Inc., in San Diego. I spent eight years there doing computational physics, mostly applied to plasma theory and terawatt-class electrical systems.
Then I got the bright idea to go join a startup software company and get obscenely rich. I had a lot of fun doing computational physics using C++, but the company went south, so I jumped ship back to my old job at Maxwell. Actually, while I was gone, they renamed the company Maxwell Technologies, Inc., and their stock zoomed up a factor of 10, and all the stockholders got obscenely rich. I wasn't one of them. It's so nice to be a financial genius. My job title at Maxwell was Senior Staff Scientist, whatever that is. Doesn't matter. I had a lot more of that fun doing computational physics. I'm very experienced in Fortran, C, C++, and Java. Right now, my preferred language is Java, which I prefer pure, rather than that tainted version from Microsoft. Take that, Uncle Bill!
I had been back at Maxwell for only about a year when, you guessed it -- the stock price went in the tank and the CEO left for greener pastures. Pretty soon, people are going to figure out that basically I'm poison for any company's financial health. The fact is that some folks don't learn.
One of those nonlearners offered me a job at a biotech startup company. I started work at Q3DM in November, 2000, hoping to get obscenely rich or destroy the company or whatever. I am sorry to say that neither of those panned out. In December, 2003, the company was bought by Beckman-Coulter, a Fortune 1000 company that intended to get obscenely rich using our technology.
Of course, you can guess what happened. That's right. Beckman-Coulter invested two years developing the technology and then cancelled the project.
At that point, I decided that the companies of this world would be a lot safer without my disreputable services. So I created my own company, Ingermanson Communications, intending to never work for anyone else again. I also decided that it was a good time to cash out my house in the stratospheric San Diego real estate market and move my little family up the coast to be nearer my in-laws. I really, REALLY did not want a job anymore.
But everybody has a price, and when Vala Biosciences came to me, offering a good price to do a little consulting, my vindictive side got the better of me and I decided to see if I could bring yet another company crashing to terra not-so-firma. I took the offer, sold my house, moved to southern Washington, bought a much nicer house, and now telecommute about 1000 miles to work every day. I figure when the explosion happens at Vala, I'll be far from the fallout. Things are NOT going well with the plan. I've made major improvements in Vala's software product and it now officially does some Mighty Cool Stuff. In retribution for that, Vala recently asked me to be a salaried part-time employee instead of a mere consultant. That may well be the missing ingredient, so possibly I'll now be able to bring the company down.
In the meanwhile, my own little communications company is really rocketing up in popularity. I now publish what is (apparently) the largest electronic magazine in the world on the craft of writing fiction, the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with over 8000 subscribers. So it may be that I've lost my poison touch. Sigh. All bad things must come to an end. Only time will tell what future havoc I'll be able to wreak on an unsuspecting planet. Keep a sharp eye. If I ever become Supreme Dictator For Life, then you'd better run for the hills.
Family: My wife Eunice has a masters degree in math and another masters degree in Slavic Languages and Literature. She's obviously a glutton for punishment. Then she married me, so her life has been nothing but suffering. We have three wacky kids. Carolyn is 19, and is studying English Lit in college and working for me developing great writing products to unleash on a cruel and heartless world. Gracie is 16, and likes talking, reading, and languages -- she's been studying Latin since kindergarten. A few years ago she won the San Diego County Spelling Bee and earned a free trip to the National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C., where she tied for 16th place in a field of 251 kids. We were super proud of her. She's talking now about becoming a novelist, so the world may need to deal with yet another rogue writer named Ingermanson. Amy is 13 and lives to play the violin, which she started studying right around her second birthday. All my kids inherited my tendency to read a lot and to make truly awful puns. I don't think any of them will get married, because I will kill any boy who ever looks at them with lewd intent. (Note to the satirically-challenged person who sent me email objecting to that statement: That was a joke, OK? I would not really kill the boy. Slow roasting over an open fire seems much more appropriate, given the seriousness of the crime, and the prices on firewood are very reasonable these days...)
Church: Yes, some physicists believe in God, and I'm one of them. I was raised in the Seventh-Day Adventist sect, which was something of a mistake, but I didn't have any choice in the matter, did I? Frankly, it caused me a lot of cognitive dissonance growing up. We spent a number of years in the Coast Vineyard in La Jolla, which is a church, not a winery. While we lived in San Diego, I also liked to hang out at Kehilat Ariel, a Messianic Jewish congregation in San Diego, where I learned to read Hebrew. I enjoyed the music and the liturgy there, although I was never a member. We've joined a smallish church her in Washington, but for privacy reasons, I'm not going to tell you where it's at. Sorry about that. As I've gotten more famous (or rather, notorious), I've learned to value my privacy. I'm sure you understand.
Beliefs: You may be wondering what the heck a working physicist believes in. Aren't we all basically evil madmen with bad hair and glazed eyes? Well . . . yes. Is there a problem with that?
Oh, so you want to know what I think about the existence of God, the creation/evolution muddle, the possibility of miracles, yada, yada. OK, that's fair. I'll tell you, but you'll have to pay. Pay for my books, that is. A guy's gotta pay the rent, and I'm a book guy. Here is a little info about each of my books:
My first nonfiction book, Who Wrote The Bible Code? came out in July, 1999. The basic idea was that a Christian physicist investigates the Bible code, brilliantly solves the question, and reports his results. Well ... that was the intent, anyway. This book was great fun, and my math-phobic editor even understood it, so there's a good chance you will too. The publisher was WaterBrook Press, a Christian subsidiary of Random House. To read all about it, along with three free chapters and free software you can use to crack the Bible code in the privacy of your own home, click here.
My first novel, Transgression was published in March, 2000. A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul. A disclaimer: I doubt very much that backwards time travel is physically possible, although it was for quite a while an active area of research by a fair number of general relativists who aren't kooks. So consider the time travel element just a fun "What if?" starting point. To read a synopsis and the first three chapters of Transgression, click here. Have fun!
Premonition picks up the story where Transgression left off. James, the leader of the Christian community in Jerusalem, is about to be murdered by the corrupt high priest. Only one person knows it -- Rivka Meyers, our time-traveling heroine from the far future. But poor Rivka is having a hard time explaining where she gets her "premonitions" of future events. And furthermore, she's always just a little bit off in her predictions, so nobody believes her. To see a synopsis and three free chapters, click here.
Retribution is the sequel to Premonition. Jerusalem, city of God, staggers under the whip of a series of brutal Roman governors. The city cries out to God for relief, and men of violence arise to take vengeance on Rome. Our heroine, Rivka, slowly learns to listen to God and her husband Ari wrestles with his conscience. Something horrible is coming to Jerusalem, something long prophesied . . . retribution. You know the drill -- a synopsis and three sample chapters await you if you click here.
Oxygen hit the bookstores in May 2001. Four astronauts on the first human mission to Mars have an accident which leaves them with barely enough oxygen for one of them to reach the Red Planet. I wrote this book with a co-author, a biochemist friend of mine by the name of John Olson. The publisher for this one is Bethany House. If you want to know more about Oxygen, click here, where you'll find three freebie chapters and a synopsis.
The Fifth Man is a sequel to Oxygen, and came out in October 2002. Four astronauts discover life on Mars . . . and are stalked by an intelligent entity. John Olson was again my co-author on this book, and Bethany House did the honors again as publisher. For more info on The Fifth Man, click here to get to the standard-issue three free chapters and a synopsis.
Double Vision is a contemporary romantic suspense novel. The leading man, Dillon Richard, is a brilliant engineer with Asperger's Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. Dillon's never had a girlfriend before. Now he's got two leading candidates . . . Rachel Meyers, girl genius biophysicist, is as free-spirited and loosey-goosey as Dillon is uptight and rigid. Keryn Wills, the company chief financial officer, is a mystery novelist who's got her eye on Dillon and who might have a chance -- if only Rachel weren't working with him on a secret quantum computing project that could break the standard encryption schemes. And oh yeah, it could also plunge the world's financial institutions into chaos. Somebody Bad seems to know they're developing this new toy, and all of a sudden, Rachel, Keryn, and Dillon don't have time for a silly love triangle, because somebody is trying really hard to kill them. For a synopsis and three free chapters, click here.
Even more book ideas are on the way, and maybe even a screenplay someday, but you'll have to wait for info on those. In the meantime, buy lots of my books and tell your friends how much you liked them. If you don't like my books, lie. It's also permissible to just buy copies and burn them in an environmentally responsible manner. Please do this in front of the CNN cameras, and make sure you point out how dangerous my ideas are. Glaze your eyes a bit and look really angry when you do this. If you can get your local library to actually BAN my books, go for it! A good book-banning is by far the best free advertising around. Sorry, I can't pay any kind of fee for this service, but I will send you a sincere letter of appreciation.
Writing Awards: I somehow won Writer of the Year in March of 1999 at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I don't know what kind of hallucinogenic chemical got put in the faculty's drinking water before they voted on that one, but I'm grateful to whoever did it.
Continuing the bizarre trend in my life for winning awards, in the spring of 2000, my first book, class="floatLeft", won "Best Book Published in 1999" by the estimable folks who run the San Diego Christian Writers' Guild. You have to be a member of the Guild to win this award, which may explain why I won it rather than Stephen King or Tom Clancy. Sorry, Steve and Tom, life isn't always fair. Join the Guild and try again next year if you want the doggone award. And try to make a deal with those drug people.
Even more surprisingly, my first novel, Transgression, won a Christy Award in Futuristic Fiction in the summer of 2001. This was quite a shock to me and the rest of the known universe. My book was up against the book Eli, by Bill Myers -- a writer I admire very much -- and also against The Mark, by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. The Mark was the #2 best-selling hardcover novel in the US in 2000 (behind a Grisham and ahead of a Clancy). Frankly, I was thrilled just to be in the same paragraph as these guys. But winning??? Yikes! It made me wonder just who was passing around those hallucinogens so freely.
Incredibly, the psychedelics continued to flow during the year 2002. My second novel, Oxygen, also won a Christy Award in Futuristic Fiction. Some have suggested that this award thing is becoming a very bad habit for me, and I can hardly disagree. My coauthor John Olson and I are very concerned about the obvious drug problems on these awards panels and plan to launch an investigation using seasoned investigators from the well-known and highly respected accounting firm Arthur Andersen. I feel sure we'll quickly get to the bottom of this scandal. Oxygen also won a Silver Angel Award, was named to the New York Public Library's very prestigious list Books for the Teen Age, and won a bronze medal in ForeWord Magazine's science fiction category for best books of the year by independent publishers. And it also won a local award from the San Diego Book Awards Association for Best Suspense Novel of the Year (by a San Diego author, of course). If you are guessing that this ridiculous number of awards has caused severe swelling around the head, then you are guessing pretty right. However, I still have my kids around to remind me that I'm basically an idiot, so the danger may be less than it seems.
I am grateful to say that The Fifth Man did not win a Christy Award in the summer of 2003. Had I won, we would have had to buy a larger wheelbarrow to drag around my excessively expanded head. My friend Nancy Moser won it instead for her very fine novel Time Lottery. Waytogo, Nancy! I can get you a good deal on a wheelbarrow, especially if you'll tell me . . . just who is your drug connection?
Premonition won another of those handy-dandy local awards from the San Diego Book Awards Association in the Historical Fiction category. They changed the trophies this year to be very cool transparent acrylic doodads which don't take up much space on the shelf. Premonition also won a Book of the Year award from the American Christian Romance Writers in the "Long Historical Novel" category. ACRW has recently changed its name to American Christian Fiction Writers and is rapidly becoming a major force in Christian fiction.
I was delighted when Retribution was named a finalist for a Christy award in the Historical Fiction category, and it also won a Book of the Year award from the American Christian Fiction Writers. Of all my books, Retribution is my favorite.
Double Vision also won an award, Best Mystery/Suspense Novel from the San Diego Book Awards Association.
That's all for now. Only recycled electrons were used in this transmission. And for you Star Wars fans, absolutely no Bothans died to obtain this information. Cheerio!