Almost nine years ago, in 1999, I began a “What’s new?” page on my UCLA
home page in order to keep track of various new additions to that page (e.g.,
papers, slides, lecture notes, expository “short stories”, etc.). At first, these
additions were simply listed without any commentary, but after a while
I realised that this page was a good place to put a brief description and
commentary on each of the mathematical articles that I was uploading to
the page. (In short, I had begun blogging on my research, though I did not
know this term at the time.)
Every now and then, I received an email from someone who had just read
the most recent entry on my “What’s new?” page and wanted to make some
mathematical or bibliographic comment; this type of valuable feedback was
one of the main reasons why I kept maintaining the page. But I did not think
of trying to encourage more of this feedback until late in 2006, when I posed
a question on my “What’s new?” page and got a complete solution to that
problem within a matter of days. It was then that I began thinking about
modernising my web page to a blog format (which a few other mathemati-
cians had already begun doing). On 22 February 2007, I started a blog with
the unimaginative name of “What’s new” at; I
chose WordPress for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most decisive one
was its recent decision to support LTEX
in its blog posts.
It soon became clear that the potential of this blog went beyond my
original aim of merely continuing to announce my own papers and research.
For instance, by far the most widely read and commented upon article in
my blog in the first month was a non-technical article, “Quantum Mechanics
and Tomb Raider” (Section 1.1), which had absolutely nothing to do with
my own mathematical work. Encouraged by this, I began to experiment
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