John Baez


The World’s Least Interesting Webpage

This is a test page. I like the ability to draw stupid-looking ASCII pictures….

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so let’s so how this one looks! Okay?


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This Week’s Finds in Mathematical Physics (Week 225)

Happy holidays! I’ll start with some gift suggestions for people who put off their Christmas shopping a bit too long, before moving on to this week’s astronomy pictures and then some mathematical physics: minimal surfaces.

Back in 2000 I listed some gift ideas in “week162“. I decided to do it again this year. After all, where else can you read about quantum gravity, nonabelian cohomology, higher categories… and also get helpful shopping tips? But, I put off writing this Week’s Finds a bit too late. Oh well.

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This Week’s Finds in Mathematical Physics (Week 224)

This week I want to mention a couple of papers lying on the interface of physics, topology, and higher-dimensional algebra. But first, some astronomy pictures… and a bit about the mathematical physicist Hamilton!

I like this photo of a jet emanating from the black hole in the center of galaxy M87:

1) NASA and John Biretta, M87, http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/newsdesk/archive/releases/2005/12/image/o

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The Voynich Manuscript

The Voynich manuscript is the most mysterious of all texts. It is seven by ten inches in size, and about 200 pages long. It is made of soft, light-brown vellum. It is written in a flowing cursive script in alphabet that has never been seen elsewhere. Nobody knows what it means.

During World War II some of the top military code-breakers in America tried to decipher it, but failed. A professor at the University of Pennsylvania seems to have gone insane trying to figure it out.

Though the manuscript was found in Italy, statistical analyses show the text is completely different in character from any European language. Here’s a sample page:

[01]

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