Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Coolest (geek) thing of the day

From Dave, apparently we'll soon be ably to download the WHOLE quant-ph arxiv onto our computers. Damn, that will be so convenient.

How nice is Salzburg?

I'm sitting in Salzburg HBf (Salzburg's main train station) at the moment on the way to Vienna. This city is seriously pretty. I'm going to have to come back here for a weekend or something.

- Damn, I just tried to post this while the train was in the satation but it didn't work. Stupid fake public access wireless networks.

It's been a busy week and it's only just getting going

I don't know how many of you noticed but I'm trying to post more regularly after my slackness period over the summer (winter if you are in Oz). My posting dropped off a bit last week though due to my completely hectic schedule.

Among other things, we finally managed to get out our registration announcement for IQING 5. This involved getting a real website up and running, though this was made significantly easier than it could have been because iWeb is so damned easy to use.

One of the big "other things" that I did last week was to start applying for a postdocs. Some of you may have seen Dave (aka The Quantum Pontiff's) advertisement for the Santa Fe Institute's postdoc fellowships? I applied for one of those. The Santa Fe Institute is a cross disciplinary privately run institute that encourages people to work across multiple fields. Their working style appeals to me a lot, as do the areas of research in which they are specialized. In order to apply for that position I had to write a new personal research statement, something I hadn't done in over two years.  Needless to say, it was difficult to write. Maybe I'll post in the future a bit about what was contained in it.

Well, that was last week. This week I'm visiting Frank Verstraete's group (which at the moment is pretty much Frank) in Vienna. I'm giving a talk there on Thursday that I should be writing now. This visit should be fun, I've only been to Vienna twice before. The first time was just to get a connecting flight (so it doesn't count really). The second time was for a frisbee tournament, which also doesn't really count because I didn't see anything other than frisbee fields and the inside of a restaurant for two days.

Oh, and the other cool thing is that I'm writing this all on the train on the way to Vienna. They have powerpoints in this train so you can plug in your laptop, I think that's very cool. I should get a lot of work done on this trip if I can only find a decent caffeine source on the train...

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Registration is now open (as is our fancy new site)

The fifth Informal Quantum INformation Gathering (IQING 5) is taking place in Innsbruck on April 11 - 14 2007. IQING 5 will bring together young researchers working in the field of quantum information science so that they can discuss their research in an informal environment.

Junior postdocs, PhD students, and Diploma/MSc students working on theoretical or experimental quantum information science are invited to attend. All participants are strongly encouraged to submit an abstract for a presentation.

Registration is due by the 31st of December 2006 (midnight GMT, and we'll check!). Notification of acceptance will be given by the 31st of January 2007.

The organizers anticipate that there will be a limited accommodation subsidy available for those who need it.

The organizers would like to thank the University of Innsbruck, IQOQI, QAP, and SCALA for supporting this workshop.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Crap, I missed my blog birthday

I totally missed my blog birthday. I've been doing this blog for a little over two years now, wow.

It all started with some lame post on the 4th of November 2004. The official line is that I started this blog because I wanted to write more about politics, physics and whatever else popped into my head. In reality, I probably did it because I was in the middle of writing my PhD thesis and wanted to do ANYTHING else.

To all my old readers, thanks for sticking around. I know some of you have been reading this blog pretty much since the first post.

To all the new readers, I hope you hang around and I don't bore you too much!

Good call Kim 2

Damn, I'm going to talk up a comment of Kim Beazley's again. Like I said in the last post, this is weird for me because I'm not normally a fan.

In the last week or so the Queensland and New South Wales state Labor governments have had all sorts of dirty laundry aired. We've had drug-fueled sex scandal suicide attemptsextortion, and even a bit of old-fashioned corruption. The leadership of the QLD and NSW Labor parties have been under fire for not being aware of the activities of their junior ministers.

Big Kim today decided to give some context to these scandals and the actions of the NSW and QLD Labor leadership:

"But not one of them ... has in any way shape or form seen or presided over the sorts of disgraceful behavings that has produced the AWB scandal ... that is the worse scandal in federal history."

He's right. He even said it in a way that is pretty much comprehendible. Does he have a new advisor or something?

Good call Kim

Kim Beazley made another good call today. In the wake of a 50/50 newspoll a few commentators in The Oz were saying that Labor should reshuffle their front bench before the campaigning for next year's election gets really serious (as if it wasn't already!). They even mooted a potential leadership challenge coming from Rudd and Gillard!

Kim, quite rightly, pointed out that oppositions don't benefit from front bench re-shuffles in the same way governments do. What he didn't say (thankfully) is that Labor has had the government on the run for most of the last year. Why on earth would they "shake things up" now? The punches are just now starting to connect, Beazley is looking stronger than he has in years and his front bench team seems to be well coordinated. There is no chance of a leadership spill before the election, especially from Rudd or Gillard as neither of them are that dumb.

Weird, I'm spruiking for Kim, normally I'm knocking him down.


Update: Bryan at Ozpolitics is a bit suss on The Australian's Labor re-shuffle campaign as well.

Update 2: Aussie Bob at Surfdom looks at the figures of the newspoll and hammers the interpretation given in The Oz. He puts to rest the idea that Beazley's personal polling is bad.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Great blog quotes

If you ever wondered why no-one ever runs a competition for the best daily quote from Ozplogistan it isn't because it would be too hard to trawl through all those comments. It's because Nabs would win too often. His comment is about the most accurate summing up of a political position I've ever seen. It's probably also the least ideological.

Friday, November 10, 2006

No time for physics posting

Because I've been doing too much stuff with physics.

By the way, we will be doing a second announcement for IQING 5 some time in the next week or so. We'll even have a fancy new website that I'll link to as soon as it goes up. I can tell you now that there will be a call for abstracts with the due date being the 31st of December and there will be a webform on the new site for the registration and abstract submission.

Oh, and I'm definitely going to QIP 2007.

The losers have been shrill but predictable

As I predicted the other day, the conservatives in Oz have been trying to make out like the Democrat victory in the US isn't really a big deal at all for John Howard and Co. Phil at LP has done a nice little round up of quotes from conservative columnists in recent days.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

One by one the pieces fall into place

Finally, now that the Democrats have control over congress they can execute their ultimate plan!

Via Phil at LP.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election blogging

I don't think I need to tell anyone that I'm very happy about the outcome of the US congressional elections. The Dems took the house and have given a good fight in the senate (where we probably won't know the final outcome for quite a while yet).

The implications of this victory are big. You'll see conservatives all over the place, and especially in Australia, try to downplay the importance of this vote, but it's just damage control. John Howard will be very worried about the outcome of this election. The mood in the US has been for change and now the Dems will launch a two-year election campaign for the presidency. The problem for Howard will be that there is every possibility that this mood will spread to Australia and every policy hit that the conservatives take in the US will be a body blow for their Australian counterparts.

At the very least, Howard's Iraq policy is going to look stupid when Bush is forced to backflip. With IR, interest rates, and the environment all in play as issues Howard isn't going to like taking hits on national security.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

THE question for this afternoon

No, it isn't "what will be the final outcome of the American congressional elections?" (for which voting begins any time now), nor is it "will Australia descend into the 7th level of hell because a new form of embryonic stem cell cloning has been made legal?", but it is that time eternal question:

"What should my theorem prooving, paper editing, all purpose mathsish physicish caffeine-based fuel source be, this gigantic packet of m&m's sitting on my desk or the watery-as-hell-yet-still-somehow-tastes-like-mud coffee that comes out of the office coffee machine?"

I think that time will come to proove that the correct answer will be, "all of the above and maybe something more".

When journos don't miss the point

Via Tim at Surfdom.

Friday, November 03, 2006

QIP 2007 reminder

Get those abstracts in! Today is the closing day for abstract submission for QIP 2007. They are due in at 3 AM on November the 4th GMT.


Update: I've submitted my abstract, have you?

It's still snowing...

OK, it's still snowing. I'm over it now because it looks less light and fluffy and more cold and wet.

This is what the world looked like through my window this morning (I obviously added the blurriness to better encapsulate the reality of my pre-caffeine state of mind) .

Anyway, here are the pics that I took on my way to work yesterday that I promised to post:

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Labor is still on the front foot

The Australian Labor party's leader, Kim Beazley, has written an opinion piece in today's Australian highlighting the differences between the Labor and the Liberal positions on climate change policy. Reading it got me thinking that if John Howard had any doubt at all that he is in the middle of an election campaign then he surely doesn't now. Iraq, industrial relations, and the environment are all areas where Labor is looking good and taking the fight to the government. Kim is calling the shots at the moment in Australian politics, this is something that hasn't happened in a while.

Theoretical computer science is a real science

Scott Aaronson has a great post talking about some of the major discoveries in compuational complexity of the last 30 years and the implications of these discoveries for the rest of us.

It's easy to dismiss computational complexity as just "pure math" and to think that it has almost no relevance at all to the rest of science. But like pure math, major results in computational complexity can resonate throughout the scientific world (it just takes a while for those resonances to be observed!).

Scott's description of theoretical computer scientists sums it all up beautifully (and he manages to capture exactly what it is that I like about theoretical computer science):

So what are they then? Maybe it's helpful to think of them as "quantitative epistemology": discoveries about the capacities of finite beings like ourselves to learn mathematical truths. On this view, the theoretical computer scientist is basically a mathematical logician on a safari to the physical world: someone who tries to understand the universe by asking what sorts of mathematical questions can and can't be answered within it. Not whether the universe is a computer, but what kind of computer it is! Naturally, this approach to understanding the world tends to appeal most to people for whom math (and especially discrete math) is reasonably clear, whereas physics is extremely mysterious.

First snow!

As predicted, I woke up this mornign to see snow falling past my window. I walked outside to see the mountains covered in the stuff. I'll post some pics of what I saw when I get around to uploading my pics to my laptop...