MIT model explains how the brain can learn novel tasks while still remembering what it has already learned.
An MIT graduate who earned a master's degree in physics 1989 has parlayed a love for baseball into a new career.
He's Troy Soos, who studied physics in the Laboratory for Nuclear Science under Professor June L. Matthews, who remembers him as a baseball fan who had nearly total recall for anything to do with baseball statistics.
He is now using his analytical mind-he did his graduate work in experimental nuclear physics-and his consuming interest in baseball (a former high school pitcher, he also attended a professional umpiring school) in an entirely new career as a writer of baseball mysteries.
The transformation has been recounted in The Christian Science Monitor in a story by Ross Atkin, who writes that while Mr. Soos enjoyed doing technical pieces for physics journals he decided he would try his hand at creative writing once he was out of school.
For several years, Mr. Soos did thermal physics research by day for a Boston area firm and spent his nights fashioning murder mysteries. His first one, Murder at Fenway Park (a player is bludgeoned to death), takes place in 1912, and was published by Kensington Publishing Corp. of New York City in 1994. That was followed by Murder at Ebbets Field, (a team owner is poisoned), with a third in the series, Murder at Wrigley Field, due out next spring.
Mr. Soos told Tech Talk the hard copy of Murder at Fenway Park has sold out and the paperback is doing well, as is the hardcover of the second book.
According to the Monitor, Kensington has extended Mr. Soos' contract to include three more titles, including Hunting a Detroit Tiger.
The Monitor reports that Mr. Soos "sets his stories in the early part of this century, using a mix of real and fictitious characters and incorporating many authentic historical details."
Mr. Soos told the newspaper he starts each book with a month or two of intensive research that sometimes takes him to the archives of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. He also uses the Boston Public Library and his own resource material.
Mr. Soos, who lives in Cambridge, has now quit his regular job to concentrate on his writing career.
"I never intended to be a writer," he told the Monitor, adding that he was always a voracious reader. "I'd always been a mystery fan. A mystery has structure to it and I knew this would keep me from trying to write the great American novel and meandering all over the place."
Mr. Soos' sleuth is an old-time ballplayer, a utility infielder named Mickey Rawlings.
As the Monitor explains, "Soos produces his trusty baseball glove, a Rawlings, to show the roots of that name. It accompanies the author to park-league games, where he is an avid slow-pitch softball player."
Is Mr. Soos a Red Sox fan? "In the American League, yes," he told Tech Talk. "In the National League, it's the Chicago Cubs."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 20, 1995.