The new issue of American Scientist is on the newsstands and on the web. My “Computing Science” column takes a stab at explaining the Hubbard model, a staple of condensed-matter physics that I’ve been struggling to understand for at least a decade. Have I finally figured it out? You can see for yourself.
The issue also includes an announcement that this new column will be my last for a year. I’m taking a sabbatical—or is it a dekasabbatical? (Both etymology and academic habit imply that a sabbatical is a break from the routine that’s supposed to come along every seven years or so. I’ve been writing the column for seventeen years.)
Friends ask what I’m going to be doing for the next twelve months. Well, one of the great advantages of my line of work is that you get to learn something completely different with every issue of the magazine—flitting from pseudorandom numbers to genetic codes to ichnofossils to interval arithmetic to ferromagnets to programming languages to the childhood of C. F. Gauss, and on and on, like some maniacal butterfly visiting every pretty flower in the field. One of the great disadvantages of my line of work is that you get to learn something completely different with every issue of the magazine—and as soon as you start to make a little progress, you have to set it aside and start all over on a whole nother subject. Thus I’m looking forward to being a little more single-minded for a while. Just one flower. Now if only I knew which flower.