Monday, April 30, 2007

Who is the greatest on-screen physicist?

Weird question no? This is the sort of stuff that I worry about as I fall asleep at night. Well no, not really but it's something that I thought about late last night after watching Spiderman 2.

I'm gonna go all out there and say that Spiderman, or rather Peter Parker, is the best fictional character that is both a physicist and has appeared on the big screen.

Can anyone out there come up with a better big-screen physicist? Here are some that I thought up, each of which is way less cool than Spiderman:

  • Dr Otto Octavius (the bad guy in Spiderman 2)
  • Bruce Banner (The Hulk)
  • Dr Emmett Brown ("Doc" from Back to the Future)
  • Eddie (A physicist played by Keanu Reeves in the crappy movie "Chain Reaction")
  • Angela Merkel (whoops, unfortunately she's not a movie character)

Anyway, I'm totally hanging (ha, I totally meant that pun) to see Spiderman 3 in the coming week or so...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Where have I been the last few weeks?

I've been on a bit of an unannounced hiatus for the last three weeks. This wasn't because I was intentionally avoiding blogging, but rather because since Easter I've either been snowed under or on holiday.

One of the major blogging killers of the last three weeks was the IQING conference that I was running here in Innsbruck. Unfortunately, as an organizer I felt a bit left-out of the scientific side of the conference. I only had time to make it to a few sessions, and in those I was either the chairperson or I was busy trying to work out very interesting things like how much coffee needed to be bought for the next coffee break.

Luckily though, I did get to go to a few really high quality talks. The ones that really stood out for me were:

  • Joe Renes' introductory tutorial on quantum communication and cryptography.
  • Marcus Cramer's tutorial on quantum dynamics.
  • David Gross's talk on using the matrix product state formalism to find new families of quantum states that are universal for one-way quantum computing.
  • Konrad Kieling's talk about the relationship percolation and cluster-state generation (a special mention should go to Konrad for carrying on superbly after we had a little IT meltdown which was in no way his fault).
  • Daniel Burgath on quantum state transfer through spin chains.
  • Christian Burrell on Lieb-Robinson bounds in certain disordered Hamiltonian systems.
  • Richard Low on quantum algorithms for Fourier Transforms on SU(2).
  • Ashley Montanaro's talk on establishing lower bounds on the entanglement-assisted quantum communication complexity.

There are probably a few other talks that I've forgotten, so apologies if I have forgotten anything.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Happy Easter!

Oh, and Happy Easter everyone!

IQING 5 countdown

Sorry for my lack of blogging this week, my co-organizers and I have spent the week finalizing everything for IQING 5, which is starting next Wednesday. If you are interested in the scientific content of the meeting, you can download a book of abstracts here.

If you are attending the workshop you might be interested in all the new information we've put up on the website in the last few days.