TeX Hour

A weekly video meeting

Scientific notebooks:from Galileo to today


Notebooks go back to the 1300s. But only after the rise of publishing did paper become a relatively cheap commodity. Hence the eraseable slate being widely used in schools until the 1900s. Legend says the US legal pad arose around 1888, being clean scrap paper from local printers repurposed. (Affordable for lawyers, but not for schoolchildren.) The UK National Archives has naval captain’s logs going back to 1669.

The Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence has Galileo Galilei’s Notes on Motion, written around 1600 to 1630. Some of the many other famous and notable (apologies) notebooks are by da Vinci, Gauss, Faraday, Darwin, Riemann, Pasteur, Pierre and Marie Curie, Edison, Tesla, Einstein and Fleming. They’ll be a quick guided tour.

Today, elegant and legible handwriting is in the decline (along with mental arithmetic). And the work notebook is in American English a synonym for a laptop computer. And the text-and-symbols computational front-end Jupyter also describes itself as a notebook. Jupyter has limited ability to produce printed output.

And tomorrow — well next next month actually — the IPAM at UCLA will be holding a week-long workshop on Machine Assisted Proofs. There are two Fields Medallists on the Organizing Committee (Gowers and Tao) a third as a panellist (Venkatesh) and important results from a fourth (Scholze) have been checked by such software.

This allow shows that Machine Learning Proofs are or will be important in the next 30 years.

A large part of the challenge today is the creation of digital paper that for science has the benefits of both traditional paper and modern interactive media. The TeX community has special responsibilities, in the present building a bridge between these two worlds.


Prior to the TeX Hour these URLs will be organised and added to. Do bring your own to the meeting if you wish.





Lab notebook

Prior to 1800

1800 to 1900

1900 to 2000

Since 2000

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