I'm Mark Lawrence.
I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin on January 21st, 1956, to Mary Ann and Robert Lawrence. To this day, the bulk of my relatives live there. I'm the second of three children. I have an older sister Linda, and a younger sister Lisa. I have three sons, Richard, Steven, and Dwight. My sons are fourth generation Packers Shareholders.
My parents moved from Green Bay to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1961. We lived there for about a year. Next, we moved to South Bend, Indiana, where I started school at John Marshall Elementary. In 1967, we moved to Concord, California, where I attended Ygnacio Valley Elementary school. In 1969, we moved to Anaheim, California, where I attended South Jr. High and Katella High school.
In 1973, I dropped out of high school and attended the University of California at Irvine for a year. In 1974 I moved to Pasadena, California, where I attended the California Institute of Technology. I majored in Engineering, and received my Bachelors of Science degree in Engineering from Caltech in 1979. I also became involved with Karate at Caltech. Caltech has the oldest University based Karate club in the world, outside of Japan. I was very fortunate to study with Tsutomu Ohshima, the instructor at Caltech form 1957 until 1991. Mr. Ohshima learned Karate at Waseda University from Geichen Funacoshi. Funacoshi is the man who invented the word Karate to describe this particular martial art. One cannot have a better pedigree of instructors. I mention this because it was in the context of my Karate lessons that I learned to master my fears and complete what I had started. Without this training, I would never have managed to successfully start my business, nor stick with studying physics for so many years.
After graduation, I went to work for Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, where I was a computer programmer writing computer graphics and computer aided design programs. I later worked for Pertec, a company in Los Angeles that manufactured computer tape drives. I managed their computer department. I then worked for MCS, a company that produced computer graphics software; I specialized in geometric modeling. On January 2nd, 1985, I quit my job and started my company, California Scientific Software. I still own and operate this company, selling the computer program BrainMaker, a Neural Network based Artificial Intelligence program.
I became interested in physics and astronomy at a very young age, when my father bought me the books 1-2-3 Infinity and 30 Years that Shook Physics, both by George Gamow. This interest has continued to this day.
In about 1980, after graduating from Caltech, I became aware of a result from IBM Zurich Research Center, where it was discovered that the state of a Josephson Junction changed faster than light. This was a shocking result to me, and I could not get the implications out of my head. In 1984, I had a conversation with Peter Grieve, another Caltech graduate, where I told him that, in my opinion, something moving faster than light was impossible in our current system of physics, and that this was the start of a new era in physics. I told him that, in my opinion, the correct interpretation of this experiment was that it is not legal to speak of distances and times when you are speaking of the internal structure of a single particle. I told him that I thought that to measure a distance, we must line up something of a know size and count - for example, an atom is about 1 angstrom across, and 100 million atoms all in a line are 1 centimeter. It does not make sense, however, to speak of speed internal to a particle, for speed is the property a particle has when it is moving, not a property intrinsic to the particle. I made the statement to Peter that "we will have our understanding when we come up with a theory that says particles and metrics are the same thing."
Ten years later, in about 1994, I had the realization that all of Newtonian gravity can be deduced simply by noting that time runs slower inside a gravitational well. A graviton is a little thing that, when it hits you, makes your clock move backwards a little bit. Now, I realized immediately that there was something very curious about this: we live in a universe where we can move up and down, left and right, forwards and backwards at will, but in the time dimension we must always move forwards, never stopped, never backwards, and always move at the same rate, 1 second per second. I realized that a simple application of Mach's principle lead immediately to a profound result. Mach's principle, at least the one I was interested in at the time, is that things which happen in our universe have causes which are within our universe. This sounds like a tautology, but it is easy to forget this principle. Well, if time always moves forward, then there must be something in our universe that causes this effect. Since things in our universe tend to be quantized, I realized that whatever this cause is, it too should be quantized. And, an individual particle of this cause, when it hits you, makes your clock move forwards - the precise opposite of a graviton, which makes your clock move backwards. So, I realized that time is a side effect of some strange sort of anti-gravity. I realized that this meant that time was not continuous, but rather jumps forwards a little bit at a time, perhaps a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second per particle. These jumps in time meant many things - this was then end of our theory that God throws dice, for example. What we considered random chance in Quantum Mechanics is actually the random impacts of these time particles. It was also the end of calculating physics to infinitesimal periods, which meant the end of renormalization - this was the single biggest barrier to writing down a theory of quantum gravity. I realized that I had come to understand the basis of Quantum Relativity.
I also realized something else. No one in the field of physics was likely to listen to me, a businessman who suddenly appeared out of nowhere and claimed deep insight into new and previously unknown laws of physics. Also, while I had some vision, I had no mathematics to back it up. Hans Bethe, an extraordinary person, teaches that if you cannot calculate, you are not doing physics. I had to learn to calculate.
I started trying to teach myself modern physics, but unfortunately for me I had not had the proper background to understand books on General Relativity or on Quantum Field Theory, and no matter how hard I struggled to master this material, I made little progress. Also, in retrospect, I had forgotten in the intervening 15 years how to be a student.
In the fall of 1999, my good friends Dan Erwin and Joseph Kunc, both professors at the University of Southern California, came to my rescue. They intervened on my behalf and made arrangements so that I could audit courses in physics at USC. I cannot over emphasize my gratitude for this - without their help and encouragement, I don't believe I would have ever become a student again. While taking classes at USC, I caught the attention of the professors - it is not all that unusual for someone to audit a graduate level physics course from time to time, but these people usually become overwhelmed in short order and disappear. I did neither. I'm afraid I was not the best of students - I lived 500 miles away from USC, and had to fly every week to attend classes and also manage my business and spend time with my children. I was only able to attend half of all the classes. After about 6 months of this, I was approached by Robin Shakeshaft and invited to apply for admission as a graduate student at USC. Robin Shakeshaft, William Wagner, and John Nodvik paved the way for me to become a graduate student. I was duly admitted to USC as a student in the fall of 2000, and proceeded to start taking the normal graduate course sequence in physics, along with a few undergraduate classes to cover the physics I had missed as an Engineering student.
By the fall of 2000, I considered that I was ready to learn Quantum Field Theory and General Relativity. Unfortunately, USC does not regularly teach either course. I returned to Caltech, where I took Mark Wise's class in Quantum Electro-Dynamics. The next year, Fall of 2001, I took General Relativity from Steven Carlip at the University of California at Davis. In the winter of 2001-2002, I took General Relativity again from Gabriella Gelmini at the University of California, Los Angeles. By April of 2002, I considered myself ready to start trying to invent a mathematical basis for my understanding, and I set to work on this project.
At the time of this writing, I live in Auburn, California, so as to be near to my children.
My hobbies are watching the Green Bay Packers, and travelling around the country on motorcycles. At the time of this writing, I have owned 25 motorcycles, and I have been about 445,000 miles on motorcycles. I have been in every one of the lower 48 states on a motorcycle, and also much of Canada.