A New Year of Mystery
Who knows what it will bring
A year ago at this time, I was celebrating the holidays in a new home, having returned to Canada 43 years after I left for graduate school at MIT in Boston. It was my first real winter in decades, and my wife’s first real winter anywhere. My mother had just moved to join us, having turned 100 2 weeks earlier, but she had just been rushed to the hospital, where she was to spend almost a month recovering from a C-Diff infection that she had probably gotten during a brief hospital visit after a fall the night before she and I flew here.
There was a mixture of excitement and apprehension about our new lives, and I couldn’t have anticipated that within less than 4 months my mother would pass away, and that I would begin a new phase for my writing and for our Foundation podcast, here at Critical Mass on Substack.
It has been an interesting experiment. Substack sought us out and induced us to move the Podcast and my writing to this site with the offer of a year of initial support, and a promise to promote our work. Only the first materialized, but Critical Mass has nevertheless continued to slowly grow so that we now have about as many podcast subscribers here as we had previously on Patreon. In 2023 we will rely completely on our subscribers to support Critical Mass programming.
In this sense we are lucky. We have over 3000 subscribers and almost 10% of them have paid subscriptions. This may seem like a small ratio but it is in fact slightly higher than the norm. Overall, it means a little over 1% of those who listen or watch our podcast or read these pieces provides support, a ratio I found quite surprising when we first created the podcas, but again the norm. Most people were not used to paying for content on the internet, and that is understandable.
We will see what the new year brings. We have already recorded an exciting series of new podcasts from some remarkable individuals, and I am looking forward to getting out the first “What I’m reading” summary of science news early in the new year. And I am hoping Critical Mass will continue to bring excitement about new discoveries and ideas combined with defending science, free speech, and open inquiry. My new book is being released in May, and Critical Mass will carry a few excerpts at that time. We will continue our production schedule, thanks to what will hopefully be a growing set of sponsors here and elsewhere, and we are planning an exciting new travel adventure with speakers Frans de Waal and Elizabeth Kolbert, and some public events in new places.
I am hoping that at this time next year I will be able to report on events and activities about which I have no inkling at the current time. For me, that is the excitement of life, and of science. We have little idea of the really significant developments that will affect us in the future. Again, this is both exhilarating, and a little terrifying. But, as I have tried to emphasize in my new book, that mystery makes both living and learning worth the price of admission.
I wish all of you exciting mysteries and enjoyable discoveries in the new year.