Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The Last Find

The Science Blog, as we know that format today, was invented by John Carlos Baez on January 19th 1993, with the first edition of This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics. And just this very today, an era was brought to an end with the 300th and final edition of that resolutely Web 1.0 bulletin.

Having so recently celebrated the first birthday of this little blog, it's quite sad to have to turn now to an obituary for the demise of a personal favourite. Issue #300 ended quite happily on a high, illustrating for us how to categorify the Riemann zeta function, whilst visiting "lots of our old friends one last time: the number 24, string theory, zeta functions, torsors, Joyal's theory of species, groupoidification, and more."

More indeed. John will continue to contribute at the math, physics and philosophy group research blog The n-Category CafĂ©, and the collaborative category theory rich Wiki-lab nLab. His new blog Azimuth will cover diverse subjects: "from math to physics to earth science, biology, computer science, economics, and the technologies of today and tomorrow – but in general, centered around the theme of what scientists can do to help save the planet."

Go, John! But whatever else you may do in the future, to me you will always be the best guy to explain the relationship between the hypercomplex numbers of the four normed division algebras (real, complex, quaternion and octonion); Bott periodicity; and the exceptional Lie groups. The guy who came to my home town, two Septembers ago, to present the Rankin Lectures at Glasgow University, and to talk about his favourite numbers - which happened to be 5, 8, and 24. Obviously.

And as much as I know that I'll thoroughly enjoy following the upcoming Azimuth content, I also know that I will forever miss the crusty old serifs of This Week's Finds. Au revoir, mon vieil ami!

Photograph of John Baez by Lee Smolin.

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