Blogging is largely against my own convictions. Fundamental physics has a slow pace, and there is no need to comment on its progress on a daily basis. Rather I believe that overestimating the news of the day, a habit that was called “arrogance of the presentˮ by the Swiss writer Max Frisch, is a serious problem in physics, if not in all sciences. The danger is that important questions may fall into oblivion, rather than that something fundamental will be overloooked in the stream of news. You probably won’t miss very much if you don’t scan the arXiv for a couple of months.
Secondly, and probably owing to the fact I’ve written three books now, I believe that blogs are on average a superficial kind of text. By definition, they miss the maturation of ideas that comes after several rounds of rewriting and correcting. A book is a much more elaborate and refined piece of work. Somebody has invested to maximize the ouput for you, the reader. The bestselling author Nassim Taleb (The Black Swan, Antifragile) doesn’t read any newspapers or journals (and I infer, no blogs either), just books. He says that the job of a scholar is to ignore insignificant current affairs. So, you may ask, why this blog?
The purpose is to focus on the relevant, not on the current, to dig out the forgotten gems of physics, rather than commenting on fashionable events. Physics is no sport where we have to rush about. Einstein, in his memoir The world as I see it, wrote on the development of general relativity:
“The years of anxious searching in the dark, with their intense longing, alternating between confidence and fatigue, and their eventual breakthrough to truth – only those who have experienced it can understand that.”
Maxwell, Newton and Kepler needed decades to arrive at their revolutional findings. It’s worth looking at how they got there. The history of physics is not boring stuff, you need to deal with if you want to evaluate the current state of affairs. Thus there will be a lot of history, intriguing problems, and hopefully stuff that will get you to reflect on the fundamental questions of physics.