Hindsight: 2020There are no comments on this post.
Dec 22 2020, 21:33
I know. I already did a looking back post last year when the decade was coming to its inevitable end. But I couldn't pass on a post titled "Hindsight: 2020". And this year was a good year for reflection, not just compactness. So, with the winter solstice just behind us, we can say that this is the dawn of 2021. Let's look back.
I know, yes, it's been a crap year with the pandemic, and everything closes down and so on. But it's not all bad. I got a huge fellowship, which might not seem as much maybe, but it shows that set theory is not dead, and in fact very much alive and well in the UK. I hired two very smart postdocs, and I started supervising some very smart students (and hopefully more to come soon). I even had two interviews, one for the fellowship, which was great, and another for a permanent job in another university which also went great (even though I didn't get it), which I mainly wanted to go through as an experience. I already had my fellowship at that point.
But this year was also a year spent at home, locked down. And while many people, I'm sure, are very happy to spend time at home. I cannot work from home. I just default to taking naps, like a house cat. I found it very hard to write, to revise, even to research, while working from home. I need to be able to knock on someone's office door and talk about mathematics. If nothing else, at the very least, I need to have some people to sit with every now and then, talk about set theory, maybe have a beer. Or a conference, like the Young Set Theory that was cancelled, or the Arctic Set Theory that was cancelled, or the many others that were cancelled. Online meetings just don't cut it for me, I need to stand by a blackboard (or a whiteboard if necessary) and talk maths.
But now, finally, I have a postdoc, that lives nearby, and finally settled enough that we can get to work, and not before long I will have my second one as well. Maybe the idea here is a "hindsight" post, but it's really a foresight one. Well, not foresight, hope.
So. Here's to hoping that as the days get longer, the situation will get better, get normal again, and that it will stay that way when the days stop getting longer. I want to host a workshop at the end of the summer. So, everyone wash your hands, get vaccinated when possible, and get us back on track to normality as soon as possible. I need the human interactions.
Oh yeah, since I'm doing hindsight, let me say a few words about the YouTube project. It is uncanny how hard it is to get people to take your free time as an expert and your money. Crazy. I know, I was aiming at fairly established YouTube channels which have very very busy schedules, and while I managed to get in touch—essentially—with everyone I was hoping for, not a whole lot happened since. Some projects are planned, but whether or not they end up more than a one-time conversation, who knows. But in retrospect, I think I might have done things differently. How? I don't know. But definitely not the way I did it. Maybe in a few years I will have a different outlook... After all, hindsight 20/20.
Well, just a short overview of what I did accomplish this year, other than what I already mentioned. I finally wrote that second paper about the Bristol model, mostly a review of the first, but also new stuff, and a really cool new argument for the failure of the Boolean Prime Ideal theorem there. I helped organise two online meetings in the span of 10 days (and start to finish in the span of about a month). I did the right thing and carefully read the paper about Flow and the Partition Principle. For crying out loud, I joined Twitter (if you need any additional evidence that this year is all crazy). What a year... And I am so glad it's over.