Fortune has put out its list of the top 100 companies to work for. The Google Monster is number one. Washington state does pretty good, as it is in a tie for fourth in the total number of companies on the list with headquarters in the state. (Per capita it comes in third, losing to Delaware and D.C.)
Looking through their article on “10 fascinating Googlers” I found Wei-Hwa Huang. Hey, he was in my class at Caltech! Indeed Wei-Hwa was responsible for one of my favorite stories about the many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory. Huh?
Wei-Hwa, you see, is a world class puzzle solver (he was a world puzzle champion while I was at Caltech.) One day I was sitting with a friend (a fellow physicist who lost on Jeopardy) on the Olive Walk at Caltech, enjoying the wonderful California weather, when a man approached us with one of those wood and string puzzles where you try to take the puzzle apart. While we played with the puzzle the guy talked with us. Turns out he was looking for Wei-Hwa. Okay, nothing strange there: he had a puzzle, and Wei-Hwa was the guy to go to for that. Then we asked him why he wanted to see Wei-Hwa. He told us that when he was a child he had this very puzzle that we were playing with. And when he was a kid he remembers that he could solve the puzzle. But now, for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out how to solve the puzzle.
“So,” we said, “you want to have Wei-Hwa show you how to solve the puzzle?”
“No, he said, “what I really want is for Wei-Hwa to show that solving the puzzle is impossible. Because then that would prove the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics!”
At which point my fellow physicist and I quickly gave the puzzle back to the man and quickly made haste for fear he might start really raving.