Melodee allowed me to read the biographies about her before I wrote my own comments, and you can just call me Ed.
Unlike many of the others, I am not a writer. I’m a scientist working in the fields of theoretical physics and mathematics. I remember the day back in 1990 when I received a letter from a young woman named Melodee who wanted to ask me questions about physics. She spoke of the classical physics of Newton. She understood relativity as well as I did. She had a better grasp of quantum mechanics than most of my graduate students. But what she wanted to know about was string theory.
I often get letters from laypeople who are only trying to help me find what we physicists call the “Grand Unification Theory”, or GUT. The GUT is the theory that will explain the entire universe in a few elegantly simple lines of equations. We know the GUT exists, but so far we haven’t been bright enough to find it. Usually, the ideas put forth by these well-meaning laypersons are so radically wrong that they are dismissed out of hand. I often ask my students to answer the letters and politely thank the sender before throwing the letter in wastebasket.
But Melodee wasn’t offering a new, overlooked insight into the underpinnings of the universe. She was asking questions about the relationships between the three aforementioned theories and if string theory might be the thread that could tie them all together into a real GUT. And she asked the right questions. Melodee explained that she was an author of fiction, but she wanted to have the facts right.
Over the years since that first letter, Melodee and I have exchanged countless letters, e-mails, telephone discussions, and spent long hours visiting in person. In all honesty, she hasn’t offered any new insights into what we now call M-theory, but she has allowed my colleagues and I to make some dramatic advances by being a sounding board for us.
As I said, she has a knack for asking the right questions.