Jenna MacSwain

Jenna MacSwain was a scientist and engineer before turning to writing fiction. She attended Caltech and Berkeley and worked for the kind of companies that aspired to build things like HAL9000 and the Holodeck.   She now lives in Cambridge and studies block chains, quaternions and quantum dots while dreaming of stories filled with brilliant and inspiring women.

What I’m reading:

Barracoon, by Zora Neale Hurston

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (reread)

By the Smoke & the Smell, Thad Vogler

Reality is Not What It Seems, Carlo Rovelli

All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque

Who I’m following:

Sabine Hassenfelder - fighting for the integrity of science

Donna Strickland

Jacqueline Battalora

Nell Painter

What I’m studying:

The History of Mexico

Unconscious Bias

Emergent Behavior in Complex Systems

The Standard Model (Particle Physics)

  • Calling the Higgs Boson the “God Particle” is a sensational misquote.


  • Hypatia lived in Alexandria between AD 360 and AD 415. She was a prominent mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and teacher in the Neoplatonist school. Her surviving work shows her to be one of the the earliest to use techniques to solve simultaneous equations. But, alas, she was yet another brilliant woman who met a horrifying end. Alex’s story begs us to imagine that a different ending is not only possible, but some day will be typical.


  • Surreal numbers were discovered by John Conway … the same John Conway who invented the autonomous simulation, “Game of Life”.  Surreal numbers are also the title and background subject of the Novel by Knuth.  Unless I remember incorrectly, which is part of the nature of memory, a friend and fellow student at Caltech left mathematics when he come to Surreal numbers … “Now they are just making s**t up.”  As I have gotten older, I’ve come to understand this is the fundamental nature of numbers.

    Surreal Numbers