I’m leaving tomorrow night on a trip that will take me away from internet access for a week or more. During this time I won’t be posting anything, or able to manage the comment section, so I’ll be shutting off comments late tomorrow afternoon, turning them back on when I’m back on April 4th.

The trip will take me to the middle of the Sahara, in Niger, where I hope to see the total solar eclipse next Wednesday. I’d like to be able to claim that this is some sort of scientific expedition, involving perhaps testing GR by measuring the deflection of starlight during the eclipse. But that’s not the case; this is really just an excuse to go to an exotic location for a much-needed vacation. I thought for a moment about renting a satellite phone with a modem, and blogging from the desert, but decided that would seriously impinge on the important vacation aspect of this trip.

Another reason for the hiatus is that I haven’t been able to come up with an inspired idea for an April 1 posting, and this gives me an excuse for giving up on trying to do that again this year. If I get any good pictures, maybe I’ll finally get around to putting something more visually appealing here.

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21 Responses to Hiatus

  1. Luboš Motl says:

    Enjoy the trip. Otherwise, there is no problem that you will turn the comments off. I will create a special article under which the discussion that would otherwise occur at Not Even Wrong can continue. Thanks. You’re welcome, Peter.

  2. lmot says:

    I’ve got a better idea Lubos. How about you and Peter have a contest to see who can go longest without posting?

  3. woit says:

    Hi Lubos,
    Thanks. I guess… Why do I suspect you’ll delete all the comments I would have kept, and keep all the ones I would have deleted? Oh, well, have fun!

  4. Arun says:

    Enjoy your vacation!

  5. weichi says:

    Enjoy the trip! I was in India for the total eclipse in 1995; it was a stunning experience. I hope the weather is perfect for you!

  6. Dumb Biologist says:

    Wear sunscreen!

  7. MathPhys says:

    How will you get to Niger, Peter? Any respectable airlines (allowed to land in EU) flies there?

  8. Bert Schroer says:

    Dear Peter,
    after my frustrating experience of loosing more than 2 hours of work yesterday evening (in answering various questions/comments using directly the reply system of your weblog), I prefer to wait up to your return for a continuation. Today I have a replacement hep-th/0507038 on the server which addresses a quite interesting point about localization-entropy. I hope that I finally managed to make a clearer presentation of this in my view important point (which by the way also shows the structural power of algebraic methods).
    Have I nice trip and above all nice weather

  9. I have an idea! Many blogs have taken up the idea of “Opposite Day”, in which you are supposed to defend, with the best possible arguments and no parody, a view completely opposed to yours. (An example is here.) So why not have, after Peter comes back from his holiday, an Opposite Day in which Peter defends string theory and Lubos attacks it? That would be interesting to read!

    Good luck in your trip!

  10. anon says:

    ‘…perhaps testing GR by measuring the deflection of starlight during the eclipse…’

    Eddington in 1919 didn’t avert the contraction of the telescopes due to cooling, and this distorted his data: ‘During a total solar eclipse, day becomes night for a few precious minutes. The temperature drops, birds stop singing, and bees return to their hives for a premature rest.’

    Hope you can capture some of the atmosphere of this event, perhaps not the sounds of birds and bees, but at least the effects of the lighting on the desert landscape?

  11. Have a nice travel. I guess you could find some internet shops around; if you check how full of inmmigrants are the ones in Europa, you can guess there is a way to get the connection at the other side in Africa and SouthAmerica.

  12. woit says:

    Getting to Niger via charter flight from Paris to Agadez. Will have to spend a day or two in Paris on either end of the trip. Life is rough.

    Sorry you’re having trouble with the comment system here. If you’re writing a long comment, best probably to write it in some other software and cut and paste.

  13. Dick Thompson says:

    Peter: Envy – envy – ennnnnnnvy!

    Have a great time!

  14. Doug says:


    Please don’t think that you need to add visual appeal here. No pictures can match the intellectual appeal of your blog. I am so glad that you stick to the topic of physics and haven’t turned “Not Even Wrong” into a travelogue. I get so tired of having to sort through cultural posts in hopes of finding a nugget of science. That’s why I always come to your blog first. It’s a winner.

  15. svelte says:

    Peter, I’m just curious, why Niger ? There are quite a few other countries in West Africa that are slightly richer and slightly safer than Niger.

  16. Arun says:

    Maybe the change in scenery will give some inspiration w.r.t. to the landscape 🙂

  17. woit says:

    Don’t worry, no intention of turning this into a travelogue, I kind of agree with you. This posting and maybe one after I get back will be the full extent of it.

    Several reasons for Niger
    1. Maximum length of eclipse is in the desert near the Niger-Libya border
    2. Best chance of not getting clouded out is in the desert. Clouds are unlikely, although there are sandstorms.
    3. I like deserts in general, also quite looking forward to getting the chance to see some of Niger.

    The eclipse track across the Sahara goes through Niger, Chad and Libya. I doubt many people are going to Chad, partly because of the safety issues. I was considering going to Libya, and many people will be there, but the Libyan government has been causing difficulties with visas.

  18. It will be hard to get from Niger airport to the Libyan border, will it be?

  19. woit says:

    Not going all the way to the Libyan border, but still, quite a few hundred miles from Agadez. Will mostly be camping and travelling by 4 wheel-drive, perhaps some camels will even be involved….

  20. MathPhys says:


    From what your description, your trip sounds like the real “getting away from it all”.

    Have a safe trip.

  21. MathPhys says:

    PS The Libyan/Niger border region is populated by the Tawareque tribes. Must be very interesting.

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