I had a lot of fun with my recent interview with astrophysicist Ethan Siegel, who provided much insight into many things scientific and sociological. Our 3 hour conversation got divided into three videos: a main one on dark matter
and two separate discussions on Ethan’s criticisms of Brian Keating’s book Losing the Nobel Prize (based on an earlier article he wrote)
and Ethan’s thoughts on theories of everything (inspired by the recent proposals by Eric Weinstein and Stephen Wolfram).
Detailed information about the videos can be found in their video descriptions.
I had a very nice discussion with Alex Kontorovich on circle packings, a subject that isn’t covered in the standard curriculum of a mathematician’s training. I’m glad we talked about it because it’s one of those subjects that has its origins in the most basic concepts in mathematics and yet continues to be a source of infinite richness as it matures over centuries (millennia in the present situation!). It’s amazing how connections to wide-ranging fields of mathematics come up in our discussion, including fractals and their dimensions, hyperbolic dynamics and limit sets, Coxeter groups and the work of Escher, and the local to global principle for quadratic forms.
It was a productive holiday break for me. I launched my Patreon account for my podcast The Cartesian Cafe to enable fans to get additional benefits should they want to support the endeavor. One notable feature I’d like to give a shout out to is being able to provide content requests before episode recordings. Given that some of my guests will be quite prominent figures that will provide a rare in-depth talk on infinitely rich subjects, it’d be good to “open the floor” to what people want to hear.
Two days ago I also released my 8th episode of The Cartesian Cafe with the amazing Greg Yang. His biographical story is the stuff of legends – you’ll have to listen to find out why. The final production spans three hours of us talking about Greg’s work on Tensor Programs, which in addition to being a powerful mathematical theory, has valuable applications to the rigorous understanding of neural networks. It was quite a grueling session to record: food break and nap break over the course of 5+ hours. Lots of fun nevertheless!