I must admit that it's with a bittersweet taste in my mouth that I try and wrap up my year as Quantum Diarist #5. In retrospect, I had absolutely no idea (or absolutely wrong ideas) about how this whole blogging business would go. The main fear, of course, is humiliation, either of myself (which I can live with, and sometimes *do* live with), or possibly my friends, family, or colleagues (which I certainly could not). So very quickly, I established some ground rules for myself, found them verified in a CNN article, no less, and then bumbled my merry way through the year, trying to highlight the neat things that came along in real life, blog life, or the wide world of the various media we consume all the time, like it or not.
All in all, it was a wondrously satisfying experience. Speaking personally, several major things jump to mind. I had the chance to interact with a larger variety of people than I'd ever dreamed of in my normal day job. From high-school students to experimental fillmmakers, I learned that a whole lot of people like, no love, physics and its surrounding disciplines, but there are so very few ways to learn about it, except in school (and who does that?). Quantum Diaries as a whole really did provide a window into a wide cross section of physicists from a wide array of homelands and backgrounds, and I hope I was a nice clear window to look through.
I also had the chance to really learn how to write again. While we learn (by sheer repetition) how to write papers and talks, we rarely get to work in the discursive style so natural to blogging. And thus, we often forget how to communicate. I can't thank all of the readers for questions whether on the blog, in private emails, and in person. Learning how to listen and answer carefully (and quickly!) has been such a satisfying experience.
Finally, as a corollary to the previous paragraph, I learned how to think again. Physics (and science in general) is really part of the world in which we live, and the language(s) we speak. The scientific method is not just a tool for finding out mere facts about isolated phenomena in the world: it's a whole way of looking at everything around you, from science to culture to politics. And its a way of looking that emphasizes facts and repeatability and accountability -- and so something which can benefit all of us in our daily lives, including our men in Washington who seem to value blind faith just a little too much for my comfort, and certainly the comfort and security of all of us groping through this very murky time in our history.
So here's hoping for a great new year to all of you. I'm hoping to keep the blogging going in some form or another, but probably at a much slower rate than in 2005. That said, there was always interesting stuff to notice and report, so maybe I've spoken too soon.