Decennial

Almost forgot again — the leap-year thing always gets me. But I’ve now officially been blogging for ten years. Over 2,000 posts, generating over 57,000 comments. I don’t have accurate stats because I’ve moved around a bit, but on the order of ten million visits. Thanks for coming!

Nostalgia buffs are free to check out the archives (by category or month) via buttons on the sidebar, or see the greatest hits page. Here are some of my personal favorites from each of the past ten years:

Here’s to the next decade!

Back In the Saddle

So apparently I just took an unscheduled blogging hiatus over the past couple of weeks. Sorry about that — it wasn’t at all intentional, real life just got in the way. It was a fun kind of real life — trips to Atlanta, NYC, and Century City, all of which I hope to chat about soon enough.

Anything happen while I was gone? Oh yeah, dark matter was not discovered. More specifically, the LUX experiment released new limits, which at face value rule out some of those intriguing hints that might have been pointing toward lighter-than-expected dark matter particles. (Not everyone thinks things should be taken at face value, but we’ll see.) I didn’t get a chance to comment at the time, but Jester and Matt Strassler have you covered.

lux

Let me just emphasize: there’s still plenty of room for dark matter in general, and WIMPs (weakly interactive massive particles, the particular kind of dark matter experiments like this are looking for) in particular. The parameter space is shaved off a bit, but it’s far from exhausted. Not finding a signal in a certain region of parameter space certainly decreases the Bayesian probability that a model is true, but in this case there’s still plenty of room.

Not that there will be forever. If dark matter is a WIMP, it should be detectable, as long as we build sensitive enough experiments. Of course there are plenty of non-WIMP models out there, well worth exploring. But for the moment Nature is just asking that we be a little more patient.

Bloggy Tweaks

I took a few minutes to update some stuff on the blog. As always, what is intended as an improvement might end up making things worse, so feel free to chime in. In no particular order:

  • The death of Google Reader reminded me that not everyone uses RSS feeds. So I’ve added a couple of features that make it easy for people to know when a new post is up (since that’s not every day). On the right you’ll notice that you can subscribe to posts via email, which seems to work pretty well. There’s also a new Twitter feed for the blog that will notify you of new posts. This is separate from my own Twitter account, which often links to new blog posts but not always.
  • You used to be able to edit comments, but that featured died when it started to think that everyone was a spammer. I’ve replaced it with a new editing plugin. Let me know if it works. Update: nope. See below.
  • More experimentally, I’ve installed a comment rating system, so you can up- or down-vote comments. Not sure if this is a good idea or not, and I worry that it adds clutter to the comment threads. So this one is definitely in a probationary period, feel free to chime in.

Some new tweaks behind the scenes, but hopefully those won’t affect the user experience.

Update: So the comment editor didn’t play well with the like buttons (annoying but forgivable) and inserted slashes after every apostrophe (unforgivable). I’ve deactivated it. Still can’t figure out why the previous comment editor (“Ajax Edit Comments”) thinks everything is spam.

Further update: Now I’ve installed yet another comment editor. We’ll see how it works.

Another Year Blogged

Happy New Year! As is quasi-traditional, we will ring in the new arbitrary chronological signifier by recapping some of the greatest blogging hits of the last year. For last year’s list I actually did a bit of work, organizing things into sub-lists and using multiple criteria. What was I thinking? Without nearly so much effort, here are my personal faves from this year’s blogging.

I don’t know, there seems to be a lot of science in there. I’ll never hit it big as a multi-tool cultural commentator if I keep talking about quantum mechanics and cosmology and entropy.

Welcome

Welcome to the latest incarnation of my blog-related programming activities. As our friend Lucretius says, “All that we see about us consists of transient arrangements of atoms. Some awaken to life. None holds forever.”

I’ve bid an extremely fond farewell to Cosmic Variance, with great memories and enormous respect for my co-bloggers there who are keeping the torch lit. But I wanted to shift to a less formal, more personal and carefree mode of blogging, one where nobody else but me was responsible in any way. I’ll still be doing my best to understand and explain cool ideas in physics, but the only common thread holding the content together will be “things that popped into my head.” It may be intermittent and even inchoate, but hopefully it will be fun.

To set the tone, here’s a little ditty from Paco de Lucia, Al Di Meola, and John McLaughlin. A mixture of heavy thinking and joyful exuberance. Something to shoot for.