Mathematical Research Letters Online Available to All

The moment Albert Einstein even hinted at having a new breakthrough, the world clamoured to be the first to break the news. Mr. Einstein, however, was not the only mathematician in the world, and his contributions only made a difference in the sphere of theoretical physics if other mathematicians were able to carry on his legacy. It can easily be stated that he, like Stephen Hawking (another modern celebrity in physics) certainly inspired many people to pursue the cause of physics, and as a result, there are exponentially more theoretical physicists and specialists in other areas of math today. Because the number of people available for collaboration has increased dramatically, the availability of platforms upon which new mathematical advances can be shared has not quite caught up to the growth.

Consequently, few mathematicians are able to maintain that spotlight that Einstein enjoyed (or possibly resented), but in this generation it is not because there is a general lack of interest in the subject. Nearly a direct reversal of what history so often provided examples of, this modern day lack of interest in the “flood” of new scientific knowledge would likely upset the followers of ancient prodigies, such as Pythagoras and Archimedes. So, in the meantime, it seems that scientific progression generally carries on outside of the media bustle. But there is still a general necessity for experienced scientists and budding amateurs alike to be able to share their findings one with another. Without means of global collaboration, progres in the sciences is stifled, and will not be able to match the rate of acceleration that should logically be possible with such a massive task force and better technology than ever.

In answer to this plaguing need, a journal titled, Mathematical Research Letters was created by the University of California, San Diego. This journal relied on the digital connectedness of researchers across the globe for its submissions (an option that even Einstein could not have envisioned!). While the journal was an new opportunity for the masses of formerly-unheard of scientists to share their hypotheses with the world, strict regulations protected it from becoming a mere wiki-like space in order to promote the serious nature that was afforded to new concepts and studies by all professional members of the field. A dedicated editorial board of in-field professionals was created to ensure quality submissions. Additionally, work published within the journal was a quick and secure way to get new ideas out to international colleagues while also documenting that the submission was an original idea. In this way, the Mathematical Research Letters functioned like many other journals as a sort of field-specific “patent office”.

The efforts of contributing authors and editors over more than a decade seemed to allow the journal to keep pace with the rapid developments and trends in science and technology that were occurring simultaneously since the conception of MRL in 1994. Of course, the availability of the internet was not particularly of any necessity at the start of the journal’s international efforts at teamwork, as it was still in its infancy. By the dawn of the millennium, widespread improvements in communication through the internet allowed not only for instant submissions and resulting collaborations, but also for unlimited access for all students of the sciences and professionals at all previously published journal volumes and entries.

The publishing entity associated with this endeavour, International Press (and quite appropriately named it might be added, due to the heavy reliance on international feedback), was also associated with the publication of numerous books on mathematical theorems and hypotheses, written explicitly for experts and researchers. These books often represented the combined work of half a dozen scientists and university-employed researchers who conducted intensive studies and evaluation over many years.

With every new contribution to the publication, there is, understandably, the opportunity for rebuttal. Without conflicting opinions in the sciences, new developments truly would be few and far between. This is exactly how it was disproven that the world was flat, or that the earth was at the center of the solar system. Essentially, as a platform of publication, the Mathematical Research Letters also functioned as a “public” forum for investigation, clarification, and complete contradiction. It can be assumed that unlike a traditional literary magazine, where entries are ever-changing and unrelated, the knowledge presented within each volume of MRL was directly related and built upon either discoveries made long ago, completely new ideas, or even (and likely) ideas that had been previously presented in the journal during the course of its existence.

A positive and highly beneficial feature of the Mathematical Research Papers was its inclusion and acceptance of entries of nearly any specialization within math and physics. Abstaining from focusing on merely one or a select few fields of study allowed subscribers and readers to have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with advances going on beyond their often very secluded niche. This aspect of the journal was vital because of the true interconnected nature of mathematical developments.

Traditionally, as a student progresses in their research and studies, they are expected to specialize in ever-more specific fields of interest. This expectation comes in a large part from university funding that is granted based on notoriety and unique research conducted by students and employees of their university (indeed, at most institutions of higher learning, tenure is based upon the amount of research that garners interest in the university from corporations and private donors who see specific or worldwide benefit from discoveries in previously unheard of applications of math). Thus, this is a catalyst for mathematicians to focus on only one small aspect of geometry, for example. Additionally, sincere interest in a potential use or application of physics propels young students to study in depth nuclear physics. But, generally this situation also prevents math gurus from having much time to compare their research with that of someone in a differing field, or even pause to consider how they might be related. Thus, the Mathematical Research Letters offered a popular solution to the problem that ancient scientists never faced as they worked to draw conclusions from all events in the physical world, regardless of the application.