Mathematical Instruments: Physicist

April 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

This post is part of the series Mathematical Instruments in which we introduce you to some of the math bloggers listed on our site. Today:

Mathematical Instruments

via Wikimedia Commons

Physicist — Ask A Mathematician/Ask a Physicist

Apart from Ask A Mathematician/Ask a Physicist, any places like other blogs, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc. we can find you on?

There is a twitter account, @AAMAAP, but it’s only used to announce new posts to the blog.  If you have any other way of keeping track of your reading it’s really not worth subscribing to it.

Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?  E.g., Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your (scientific) background?

My personal philosophy, and hopefully this comes across in the blog, is that there’s nothing particularly mysterious or difficult to understand about the universe, given a little time and effort.  That said, it’s very difficult to effectively learn and research on your own, and sometimes you just need to talk to a “professional” to speed things up.
In college I did a double major in Math and Physics and am presently completing a PhD in Math with an eye towards physics.  My research (such as it is) is in quantum information theory, which is where all of the really interesting and weird quantum stuff is studied.

When and how did you first discover mathematical blogs?

Mostly by backtracking incoming links to AAMAAP.  I hadn’t realized there were nearly this many math nerds!

What is the story behind the name of your blog?

When you go to Burningman it is assumed (hoped) that you’ll give back in some non-monetary way.  So, you’ll see lots of free bars, free ice cream, free mini-golf courses, that sort of thing.  Having nothing else to offer other than being moderately friendly and knowing some obscure stuff, we (the Mathematician and I) set up a little tent with a sign that said “Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist”, which we thought conveyed the idea pretty clearly.  A lot of people wandered by and asked a lot of really interesting questions that just couldn’t go to waste.  So the blog happened.

When did you start blogging?

October 2009.  There was a big burst of posts from questions that had been asked in person, but since then the vast majority have been by email.

Why did you start?

Seemed like a nice thing to do.

What do you write about?

The topic is entirely determined by what questions are received by email.  In the event that I know an answer, can explain it even a little, and that it has even a small chance of being interesting to anyone else, the question and answer become the next post.

What wouldn’t have happened to you without the internet?

This questionnaire for one.  I’m not making any money or getting famous or anything, so at a guess; without the internet things would probably be about the same.  I’d probably talk on the phone more and spend more time in libraries (learning things much slower).

Mathematicians on the web have…

Generosity and patience.

Your daily web reading (mathematical or otherwise):

xkcd, and whatever I accidentally stumble on.  Other than writing for AAMAAP and email, I spend very little time online.

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