Just in time for the publication of The Universe in Zero Words, I have dramatically updated the look of my website, and made some changes behind the scenes that should enable me to keep the site up-to-date much more easily. You might notice a small number of posts that I have brought over from the old site, the ones with “(Old Post)” in the title. There are only five of them. That shows you how rarely I updated my site, because it was such a headache. Now that it’s as easy as blogging, I plan to update the site a whole lot more frequently.

Almost all of the content from the old site is still here, but much easier to find, thanks to the new drop-down and fly-out menus at the top of the page.

Welcome page photo

I’d like to say a little bit about the image I chose for my welcome page, the photograph of the stacked pebbles on the seashore. There were three reasons why this photo clicked for me. First, I live only a mile from the seashore, in beautiful Santa Cruz, California. So it’s a subtle nod to my adopted hometown.

Also, I love the simultaneously child-like and Zen-like nature of the stacked stones. Probably most children who have gone to the beach have stacked pebbles at some point, trying to see how high they can go. This aspect of the picture brings out the playful side of science. At the same time, stacking stones is a worldwide practice that for many people evokes a sense of balance, tranquility, contemplation. This is also an important part of science: it is a quiet contemplation of the world we live in, a search for patterns and meaning.

Finally, when I saw this photograph of the stacked stones, it called to mind one of Isaac Newton’s most famous quotes:

“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

As you admire the stones in the foreground, don’t forget about that ocean of truth in the background!

If you’re curious, the photo was taken by Barış Muratoğlu, and I purchased it from www.istockphoto.com. This stock photo website has literally hundreds of photos of stacked stones. I could hardly believe what a popular subject they are for photographers!

I would also like to thank Melody Sharp of Melody Sharp Web Design, who provided a great deal of technical assistance and put up with my frantic e-mails when things weren’t working right. This was my first foray into having a website professionally designed after years of doing it myself, and I think that it was worth the trouble. If any readers (especially in the Santa Cruz or San Francisco Bay area) are looking for someone to design an attractive and low-maintenance website for a reasonable price, I’m glad to recommend her services.

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