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John Baez's Stuff

I'm a mathematical physicist. I work at the math department at U. C. Riverside in California, and also at the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore. I'm working on network theory, information theory, and the Azimuth Project, which is a way for scientists, engineers and mathematicians to do something about the global ecological crisis. If you want to help save the planet, please send me an email or say hi on my blog.

What's New?

Check out the slides of my talk on The Dodecahedron, the Icosahedron and E8! There are plenty of cool pictures, like this one made by Abdelaziz Nait Farouk:

Learn about diamondoids and phosphorus sulfides:

I gave a talk at the Stanford Complexity Group on Biology as Information Dynamics, and here's a video:

The Azimuth Backup Project is saving about 40 terabytes of US government climate data from the threat of deletion. Our Kickstarter campaign exceeded its goal by a factor of 4, so we will be well funded to store this data and copy it to many safe locations.

Check out this talk on networks and category theory:

and also my introduction to Kolmogorov complexity and related ideas:

Learn what Kosterlitz and Thouless did to win the 2016 physics Nobel Prize.

Try my articles on 'struggles with the continuum' — that is, problems with infinities in physics arising from our assumption that spacetime is a continuum:

Read about 'topological crystals':

Take a road trip to infinity:

And here's a lot more entertaining stuff:

There's a mysterious relation between the discriminant of the icosahedral group:

and the involutes of the cubic parabola:

Learn a bit about quantum gravity, n-categories, crackpots and climate change in my interview on Physics Forums.

Anita Chowdry and I gave a joint lecture on The Harmonograph at the University of Waterloo. You can watch a video of it!

Read the tale of a doomed galaxy:

or if you prefer, read about the mysteries of the inverse cube force law:

Then learn about the butterfly, the gyroid and the neutrino:

Nature and the world of human technology are full of networks. People like to draw diagrams of networks: flow charts, electrical circuit diagrams, signal-flow graphs, Bayesian networks, Feynman diagrams and the like. Mathematically minded people know that in principle these diagrams fit into a common framework: category theory. But we are still far from a unified theory of networks! Learn more here:

Network Theory: overview. Video on YouTube.

Network Theory I: electrical circuits and signal-flow graphs. Video on YouTube.

Network Theory II: stochastic Petri nets, chemical reaction networks and Feynman diagrams. Video on YouTube.

Network Theory III: Bayesian networks, information and entropy. Video on YouTube.

Last year I gave talks on What Is Climate Change and What To Do About It? at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. You can see the slides.

But if you prefer biology and algebraic topology, try my talk on Operads and the Tree of Life.

For fun, I've been continuing to study the octonions, E8, the exceptional Jordan algebra, the Leech lattice and related structures:

I also love Coxeter theory. Here's the Coxeter complex for the symmetry group of a dodecahedron:

You can learn more about this in my series "Platonic solids and the fourth dimension": part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, and part 13.

Douglas Adams said the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. But you may not know why. Now I have found out. The answer is related to Egyptian fractions and Archimedean tilings.

You may enjoy kaleidocycles and collidocycles:

Click the boxes to hear and read about some pieces I made with Greg Egan's QuasiMusic program, which translates quasicrystals into sound:

Read my series on the mathematical delights of rolling circles and balls!

There's a math puzzle whose answer is a really huge number. How huge? According to Harvey Friedman, it's incomprehensibly huge. Now Friedman is an expert on enormous infinite numbers and how their existence affects ordinary math. So when he says a finite number is incomprehensibly huge, that's scary. It's like seeing a seasoned tiger hunter running through the jungle with his shotgun, yelling "Help! It's a giant ant!" For more, read this.

In week319 of This Week's Finds, learn about catastrophe theory in climate physics! This issue features a program you can play with on your browser. It's a simple climate model that illustrates how a small increase in the amount of sunlight hitting the Earth could have a big effects on the climate, by melting snow and revealing darker soil. It was made by Allan Erskine.

Also on my blog, learn about ice, its many forms and crystal structures, how it resembles diamonds, and what scientists do with a machine that uses 80 times the world's electrical power for the few nanoseconds it's running.

What's on This Site

Also try my blog at:

For common questions about physics, you can't beat this:

I don't maintain this Physics FAQ - Don Koks does, so please send any comments about it to him, not me!

If reading my stuff makes you want to ask questions, take a look at this.

The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Philpotts

© 2013 John Baez