Praise For ‘Gina says’

Praise for: ” ‘Gina Says,’ Adventures in the Blogsphere String War

(Below the dividing line:  Greg Kuperberg, Scott Aaronson, Clifford Johnson, Peter Woit, Motty Perry, Caterina Calsamiglia, Yuval Peres, Eva Illouz, and (right from the comment section)  Luca Trevisan, Thomas Love, John Sidles, Jacques Distler, Marni D Sheppeard, (and from other journals/blogs) Hamish Johnston, Lance Fortnow. New: Lubos Motl, Eytan Sheshinski and Tselil Schramm.

Download the first part of the book (pdf file) (See also this post)

   Shmuel Weinberger (August 07): Very much enjoyed the story of Gina’s involvement in the blog world– i read it through on my flight back to America. It was a very interesting if occasionally difficult read. Probably the part that resonated most was the advice (i think it came from your father) that every subject is fascinating after you study it deeply.

Avi Wigderson: (August 07)  I expected no less from the author of the immortal translation of the classic book “Where is Pluto?

Oded Schramm (Dec 2007): Though it is somewhat uneven, there were some definite enjoyable highlights. (Feb. 08 ) What about a sequel? I’m really curious what’s happening with Gina these days?

ראה תמונה בגודל מלא

Itai Benjamini It was such a joy to listen to your unique voice (music) yet again. A typo: Section 20 “children’s teaching disabilities” should be “children learning disabilities”. (Feb 08 ):


Elchanan Mossel (Feb 08): I read it when I was sick and couldn’t do other things, and it cheered me up



ראה תמונה בגודל מלאOlle Haggstrom (March 08): I found it a real page-turner, and read the entire thing for four straight hours last night! Very interesting stuff, on several levels. And very original, of course. May I ask what is your relation to Gina? You seem to have remarkable insight into her mind…


Ken Binmore (June 08) Dear Gil, I like your book a lot. If you get it published, it could do with some pictures. Best wishes, Ken


Greg Kuperberg: (Oct 08)  …So the assertion that spacetime is 10-dimensional comes with the important asterisk that it might only look 10-dimensional when it is near a classical limit in the sense of standard semiclassical perturbation theory. In the realistic limit it looks effectively 4-dimensional, and in more exotic limits it may look 11-dimensional (say). If you do not take a limit at all, then maybe spacetime is some non-geometric algebraic object that doesn’t have a dimension.

  Scott Aaronson (Nov 08): It is one of the strangest documents I have ever read…  

At the beginning, the greatest charm of your manuscript is its promise to bring an “outsider perspective” to the string wars: unlike the partisans on both sides (Motl, Distler, Smolin, Woit…), Gina presents herself as a curious outsider who’s just trying to pose questions and understand what’s going on.  By the end, though, she’s become (at least in my eyes) basically another partisan, for the pro-string side…    

 there’s lots of food of thought in this unusual manuscript — [despite the above concerns,] I certainly found myself reading till the end.

Clifford Johnson (Nov 2008): I find the Gina character rather well done…. I actually really like your idea… it is fresh and amusing. Well done.


Peter Woit (January 09) : I read through it quickly, amused to relive again some battles of the string wars…. In your fantasy of the future, you mention my book being translated into Czech. Funny, a publishing company there did buy the rights a year or so ago, and I think they will be bringing it out. Sometimes reality and fantasy are indistinguishable in this story… (A post from “Not Even Wrong” with more)


Motty Perry (Jan 09): I started reading your book on my way to the UK (will be back in 3 days) and was forced to stop when the laptop’s battery died. So far (50 pages), it is fascinating!!!; I find it educating and I wait to my next flight to continue reading.

Caterina Calsamiglia (Jan 09) Every once in a while there are interesting thoughts about what the aim of science should be, that are nice…! Physicists and mathematicians are quite special…!


Yuval Peres (Jan 09) I spent several hours reading through it, trying to separate fact from fiction. The statement “Why should I be surprised if I can simply disbelieve.” on page 17 is not due to Gina’s great uncle “Lena” but rather to my grandmother Malka Heller. (GK: Correct!)

Eva Ilous (Apr 09) I kept on reading (there were 2 dense pages that stretched me) and I now find it very entertaining.

Mark Sredniski: I have to say that it’s a bit disappointing to find out that Gina is actually an accomplished mathematician. I remember being impressed by the prescience of some of her comments, back when I believed her to be an interested non-expert, the sort of person the bloggers are all trying to reach.

Bee (aka Sabine Hossenfelder): (in Backreaction)  Some of you might remember a commenter called “Gina” being omnipresent in the discussions around Peter’s book “Not Even Wrong” and Lee’s book “The Trouble With Physics”. Gil’s book summarizes these conversations. I didn’t follow them then, and am not tremendously interested to read them now. I have a pdf of the book, but didn’t look at it, so don’t ask for details. I recall wondering back then though whether Gina is indeed female as the name suggests.

Janos Pach:  Your book is sensational! I have never seen anything like
this. And it partially answers my question that I bothered you with
several months ago: what is blogging?

New from the remarks sections:

Luca Luca Trevisan (June 09)  It was a wonderful idea, and very well executed; I look forward to the second part, but the Comic Sans hurts my eyes.

Thomas Love: Great fun!

 sidles  John Sidles: Congratulations Gil … this book is a very interesting read!  


thinker   Jacques Distler: I recall rather enjoying the Gina character at the time. She seemed a curious mix of occasionally penetrating insights, and a sometimes rather befuddling layman’s (lack of) understanding of the scientific issues under discussion. … the book (at least, the excerpt) has a quaintly antiquarian feel. Comic Sans notwithstanding.

Marni D Sheppeard (Kea) Loved the book, thanks! Best of luck with the publishing. From Gina’s sister.

From Physicsworld

Hamish Johnston: I couldn’t help feeling sorry for Gina as she tried to ingratiate herself back into the conversation.

From Computational Complexity

  lanceLance Fortnow: It certainly was a fun read but I finished not sure of the purpose of the book… Kalai’s book does have the big advantage of being a free download.

On Just Notes:

“Gina says” on String Wars  reminds me of the Bourbaki phenomenon in math. Though, so far, the endings are quite different, the initial pourpouses are (were) quite similar: to clarify the topic on one hand and to set foundational grounds on the other hand. I wonder if having internet and blogs those days, Bourbaki would have ended up being “Bourbaki says”  as well.  (!!!)

  Lubos Motl, on Arkadian FunctorI wanted to mention that Gina was almost certainly a fictitious nickname of the same Israeli mathematical transvestite. ;-)


   Eytan Sheshinski (July 09)   Gil, I am in the middle of the book. It is a fascinating discussion,some tongue and cheek, by smart people on foundational issues of science which we ,economists, hardly touch. I will use “why should I be surprised if I can simply disbelieve”!


    Tselil Schramm (July 09) I have just this moment finished reading the first section of Gina Says, after starting it this morning. I enjoyed it a lot! It was pretty great. I think my favorite part is when Gina gets kicked off, and Gil Kalai posts instead. I laughed out loud! Silly String Wars was also priceless….(August 09) I finished Gina. I liked it a lot, although I have to say the first section is still my favorite. I liked the story about the imagined conversation with the grad student, does it have basis in reality? I also enjoyed the part about trolls a lot. When I read the story of Miles and Jeffery, I felt like I had heard it before… is this possible?

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11 Responses to Praise For ‘Gina says’

  1. Pingback: My Book: “Gina Says,” Adventures in the Blogsphere String War « Combinatorics and more

  2. John Baez says:

    Are you planning to sell this book? If so: have you examined the copyright issues involved in taking a bunch of posts from blogs – apparently including my blog, the n-Category Cafe – packaging them, and trying to sell them as a book?

  3. Gil Kalai says:

    Dear John,

    that’s a good point. Most of my book is based on discussions in the comment section, it is interesting if those are subject to copyright, and who have them . (I vaguely remember there was already a book based on blog discussions although of a different nature.) Partially because of that much of the blog parts of the book consists of quotations of Gina’s comments and a description of the responses. (I was pretty confident that Gina herself will allow it although this concern had also been raised.)

    Anyway, I am indeed curious if the copyrights to your comment above (for example) belongs to you? to me? to wordpress? or perhaps everybody can use them.

    Actually when it comes to Gina’s brief involvement in the n-category Cafe there are quite a few posts (=comments) by other people and some really nice ones by you. (Explaining elliptic PDE’s.) So I suppose I am going to ask your permission. I am not sure if detailed ecplanation of elliptic PDE’s will help sell the book but I would try to keep this staff in (if you will allow) because it is very nice.

  4. My understanding is that, at least in the U.S. and Canada, the copyright on everything you write belongs to you unless and until you explicitly transfer it to another party. Under the fair use exemption, it is generally acceptable to quote from someone else’s writing to a limited extent – with proper attribution but without asking the copyright holder for permission – for the purpose of linking to it, commenting on it, or other such. The fair use exemption does not state explicit quantitative limits (such as the number of words or paragraphs that may be quoted), but, for example, based on my quick look at Part 1 it would not be a good idea to quote Peter Woit so extensively without his consent. (Given his comments here, I’m assuming that he’s cool with that).

    WordPress does not have the copyright on what we write here. It does have the right to distribute it, but the terms of service do not require transfer of copyright. I would not be here if they did.

    As far as I know, comments on your blog belong to their authors in terms of copyright. For example, I hold the copyright to this one. You don’t have any obligation to allow me to publish it on your website, and you can delete it if you wish, but you can’t copy it and paste it somewhere else under your own name without infringing my copyright (heh). On the other hand, if you would like to quote it with a link to this post, that would be fair use.

  5. Gil Kalai says:

    Thanks Izabella. That’s interesting. So far the book quotes (edited) posts with links to the original posts. You can actually click and jump to the original thread and sometimes directly to the specific comment.

    Of course it is very interesting how it is possible to document and summarize a debate/discussion with a large number of participants. It is also not clear what is the situation with anonymous participants.

  6. upload?

    (Thanks. Corrected!)

  7. I guess I should have included one more example: if instead of quoting just one of my comments you were to collate a large number of them, publish that as a newspaper article and collect an honorarium, that would be unlikely to qualify as fair use, even if they were all attributed and linked properly. In other words, plagiarism is one thing and copyright infringement is another. Fair use would certainly preclude plagiarism, but that’s not the only requirement.

    I’m not sure what the situation would be with anonymous comments. Technically they’re still copyrighted to their authors, but what if the author cannot be identified? There should be some sort of an exception for that.

    This web page has more details (U.S. based).

  8. Harrison says:

    1. It was rather jarring to see Oded Schramm’s name in the above list.

    2. I agree with Luca about the Comic Sans! Apart from that, and copyright issues aside, it looks very interesting.

  9. Having not read the rest of the manuscript (I guess, unlike some people, I don’t rate …), I can only judge from the excerpt you’ve posted here. But, based on that, I’d judge that your quotations fall under the “fair use” provisions of copyright law.

    The “String Wars” were certainly a weird episode, from a sociology of science perspective (actually, from most any perspective). I imagine that looking at them through Gina’s eyes is as good a way as any, to try to try to document what took place.

    I recall rather enjoying the Gina character at the time. She seemed a curious mix of occasionally penetrating insights, and a sometimes rather befuddling layman’s (lack of) understanding of the scientific issues under discussion.

    The world, however, has marched on (well, most of us have), and the book (at least, the excerpt) has a quaintly antiquarian feel — Comic Sans notwithstanding.

  10. Gil Kalai says:

    Dear Harrison and Jacques, thanks for the comments.

  11. Pingback: Gina Says Part two « Combinatorics and more

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