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Various and Sundry

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 08:33 AM PST

  • I recently spent some time looking at old postings on this blog, partly because of writing this blog entry, partly because Gil Kalai got me a copy of his book Gina Says. For a moment I thought this would be a good time to write something about the “String Wars”, but then decided that project should wait for another time. I did go quickly through old postings (there are 1660 of them…) and pick out a small subset that might be more worth reading for anyone with time on their hands. A list is available by selecting the category Favorite Old Posts.
  • Another category of blog posts that includes many that I spent more time than usual writing is that of Book Reviews, of which there are 93 here (about ten of these were written for publication elsewhere). Among the forthcoming books I’m hoping to write about are Sabine Hossenfelder’s Lost in Math, and the fifth volume of Raoul Bott’s Collected Works (listed at Target under “test prep and study guides”). Some other forthcoming books are Sean Carroll’s Something Deeply Hidden, and a new book by Brian Greene that I know nothing about other than this.
  • A debate various places on Twitter about science journalism and accuracy included this from neuroscientist Chris Chambers, who explains that when he looked into this he discovered what I’ve often seen in physics reporting: the source of hype is more often scientists and their press releases than journalists.
    https://twitter.com/chrisdc77/status/960304692449435648
  • The nLab project has been joined by the even more exciting mLab project (some discussion here).
  • This semester MSRI is running a program on enumerative geometry, with two workshops so far, materials here and here. A lot of this subject has been influenced by ideas from physics, in particular from topological quantum field theories. While my Columbia colleague Andrei Okounkov has been on leave this year, he’s written two excellent surveys of some recent work, see here (for the ICM) and here. For older surveys from him, see here and here.