About This Site

This site may appear to be a blog, but it is not. Rather, it hosts a collection of writings that I wish to share. These include fiction, poetry, pedagogical pieces in physics and computer science, explorations of ideas that I find interesting, fun problems that I’ve toyed with, and some original research. The latter may or may not be novel (in the sense that it hasn’t been done by others before).

Why I’m not quite as arrogant or lazy as one may assume (but then, maybe I am)

One of the problems that faces someone with varied interests and the inclination to pursue them is the highly specialized nature of today’s academic research. For example, suppose one comes up with a question or idea that they think may be of broader interest. They may study the literature in that area, determine whether the idea has been explored before and, if so, whether it has been worked through to their satisfaction. If not, then they may frame the idea in the context of existing work and submit the result for publication in an appropriate journal. However, this process is quite involved. Even the identification of an appropriate field or journal is difficult. The simple lay terms in which one formulates the problem may correspond to highly specialized jargon without which they cannot effectively search the literature. Even an experienced researcher from another field could require six months or a year to develop the necessary background, locate the definitive research, and represent his own work in an appropriate form. This is in addition to the actual research itself. For an academic, this procedure is perfectly reasonable. One works within a specific niche and therefore need only go through this process once or a few time in a career. Moreover, publication establishes credentials and therefore serves a real purpose in advancing one within their profession. On the other hand, for a casual researcher (or a serious but transient visitor) the situation is quite different. Unless their work on the problem itself benefits from this additional effort, it may not be desirable to devote a year of time to every interesting idea.

The first of many questionable analogies

The situation is analogous to that of a man who travels the world writing about the local fauna. Suppose he sees a bit of forest that may contain interesting wildlife. He could learn the local language, find local books about this area (if there are any), read their descriptions of the indigenous animals, try to spot an animal they haven’t heard of, and repay their hospitality by adding his own observations to their existing books — in their language. Or he could take a walk and just write about whatever he sees that strikes him as interesting. Perhaps it’s been spotted before, perhaps it hasn’t. But in a sense he doesn’t care. Sometimes he must give his own names to creatures to distinguish them in his travel diary.

So why write about it publicly? He has direct experience, but writes in English. Such a work could be of interest to others interested in that local wildlife who do not wish to (or cannot) repeat his entire effort.

A defense of being defensive

This should serve to explain that my approach doesn’t stem from arrogance or insouciance concerning peer review. I simply must choose between spending my time on creative endeavor or its placement. Given my inclination and goals, the former is the obvious choice. Hence this website.

And I like pretty fonts. Journal articles don’t let you use pretty fonts.

My intention is to share work that has been carefully considered and properly edited. I may also use this as a forum for small snippets or thoughts that don’t bear immediate elaboration, as well as some personal items such as travelogs or galleries.

I lean toward essays that examine abstract ideas as opposed to timely social commentary. Though I hold a respectable number of strong and ill-formed opinions, these are for friends over beer. Or an early morning talk show. There is no reason why you should care whether I register my approval of X or my distaste for Y. However if X and Y monopolize the public discussion and I feel that an important point Z is being overlooked, I may offer it for consideration. I doubt this will prove interesting since most people like reading about celebrity misconduct or cops shooting bad guys or cops shooting good guys or why the world is coming to an end. Frankly, letters of the alphabet just aren’t that interesting. But the important point is — no personal opinions.

As an aside, I have backdated a number of the initial entries to reflect their approximate completion or publication.