The year that was
2016 was a wild, tumultuous year for many of us, and there no exception with the blog. I’ve had close to 40,000 views this year, which is up considerably from 2015 with its 2,500 views. Yes, there are much bigger blogs, but I’m thrilled with the response. For my final blog of 2016, I decided to take a look back at some of the more popular posts over the last year.
To recap, The Intrepid Mathematician posts a new blog usually every Wednesday, and focuses on mathematics and explores its relationship to pop culture. I’m a mathematician and like to write about my subject. However, the blog is should be readily accessible to most readers regardless of their mathematical background. One of my manifestos is that mathematicians have done an inadequate job communicating our ideas to the layperson. Many non-academics (and even non-mathematical academics) have no clue what mathematics is about, what mathematical research is, or why it’s so vital to our technology-driven, modern world.
I think the 21st century is not only the information/big data age, but the communication age. We mathematicians need to remember this.
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
Barbara Walters asked Katherine Hepburn that, in a now cliché interview question.
One way I’ve tried to bridge the gap between mathematicians and everyone else is to have interviews with some well-known mathematicians. And I wouldn’t ask questions about what kind of tree they would like to be.
I’ve got them to talk about their childhoods, experiences in grad school, major discoveries, and directions of mathematics in the future. I want the interviews to be more than just information dumps as you would find in Wikipedia. I also think it is important that another mathematician by the interviewer: I intrinsically get them, and can guide the questions in a way that is more accessible (or at least that is the hope).
My interviews with Maria Chudnovsky, Ken Ono, and Fan Chung Graham were very well received. I spoke with Nassif Ghoussoub, an outspoken Canadian mathematical icon, who was recently awarded the Order of Canada. Having a recent chance to chat with wavelets-luminary Ingrid Daubechies was awesome. I look forward to bringing more interviews to the blog in 2017. Suggestions on who to interview are always welcome.
I’ve written about Emmy Noether, Raymond Paley, and Michael Atiyah. There are blogs on the social networks in Game of Thrones and other cultural works, on mathematical nuns, mathematical gender diversity, and your brain on math. There were also a few posts that had nothing directly to do with mathematics, like my personal homage to the late David Bowie.
I want to thank everyone who has supported the blog and posted questions or comments. Blogs mean nothing without someone on the other side of a screen, tablet, or phone.
2017 is shaping up to be an epic year for me. We’ve relaunched the journal Internet Mathematics as an arXiv overlay, and my institution Ryerson University will be hosting the Canadian Discrete and Algorithmic Mathematics Conference (a major discrete mathematics meeting) in June. I have a book deal to publish my third academic monograph on Graph Searching Games and Probabilistic Methods, and I am closing on the publication of my first novel Pattern Earth with a young adult, sci-fi theme.
Things are never boring, and the blog lets me keep writing and connecting with a wide audience. I treasure writing whenever I have the time to do it.
All the best in the New Year!