The Quantum Pontiff

Hot off the presses!

In an amazing breakthrough, which this press release has no room to describe in any real detail, scientists at research university BigU have made tremendous progress in the field of quantum computing. The results mean that quantum computers are one step closer to replacing your laptop computer

Quantum computers work by some mechanism that we don’t have the time to understand. But we are sure our researchers will explain it to you, but you won’t understand anyways, so why ask them? It’s definitely got something to do with multiple universes and bits that are both zero and one at the same time. Both zero and one, we tell you! [Insert random sentence about quantum computers being massively parallel computers, or involving spooky action at a distance, or maybe involving quantum consciousness here.]

Previous research wasn’t nearly as good as the research performed here. Our faculty at BigU are so much better than the faculty at other universities, don’t you know? The results in this experiment are faster, bigger, smaller, slower, and possibly more revolutionary than previous results. Those other researchers are saps and haven’t made nearly as big of step as our big step forward. “Big steps forward” is our motto here at BigU.

“This is a small quote from the scientist who did the research,” said researcher John. Q. Facultymember. “But really I’m just talking to you because it helps my tenure case.”

“Another quote from someone at another university goes here,” said senior faculty member Big Name. “But I will always qualify things and tone it down because I don’t want it to threaten my funding.”

“Sometimes we put something here from someone who is good at popular science writing,” said author of a popular science book vaguely related to quantum computing.

This research was funded by FOO, BAR, and EGO, and we’re hoping that this press release will draw their attention so that they continue to give us money.

It’s not that I don’t understand why science needs PR and more often than not the PR isn’t really that bad. It’s just that it feels like we could really be using our cool scientific results in much more honest and much more protective ways.

Comments

  1. #1 HennepinCountyLawyer
    August 6, 2008

    “. . .which this press release has no room to describe in any real detail,”

    I think you mean “the margin is too small to contain.”

  2. #2 Ian Durham
    August 6, 2008

    Is that ‘protective’ intentional, or did you mean ‘productive?’ Perhaps a pun? Or Freudian slip maybe?

  3. #3 Cherish
    August 6, 2008

    The linked article has some good points but has some pragmatic issues. Who comes up with the money? What researcher is really going to throw a bunch of time into efforts that don’t promote their research? I know there are some, but I don’t think one can expect that on a grand scale.

    Nice in theory…

  4. #4 Markk
    August 6, 2008

    Somehow I hear Tom Waits in the background going

    That’s right, it filets, it chops, it dices, slices,
    Never stops, lasts a lifetime, mows your lawn
    And it mows your lawn and it picks up the kids from school
    It gets rid of unwanted facial hair, it gets rid of embarrassing age spots,
    It delivers a pizza, and it lengthens, and it strengthens
    And it finds that slipper that’s been at large
    under the chaise lounge for several weeks
    And it plays a mean Rhythm Master,
    It makes excuses for unwanted lipstick on your collar
    And it’s only a dollar, step right up, it’s only a dollar, step right up

  5. #5 Jen Dodd
    August 7, 2008

    Cherish: Many scientists love doing real outreach and hate doing marketing. Not all, of course, and most have a limited amount of time for this, but the opportunity to have genuine interaction with non-experts who are interested in their work is very attractive to many scientists. It certainly was for me!

    The trick is to make it easy for scientists to contribute (hence the need for a university department of outreachers who do just that). Set up a great event and make sure their efforts will have a big impact, and many scientists will be more than happy to donate a few hours of their time.

  6. #6 Jonathan Vos Post
    August 8, 2008

    Coach Alum Inum says: “BigU’s football team will make tremendous progress by using Quantum computers, which work by some mechanism that our athletes don’t have the time to study. It’s all about our ranking, before the season is over, which they tell me is done by matrix inversion on the won-lost values of the teams that we’ve played, weighted by how they did against other teams based on their won-lost statistics. And eigenvalues of that won-lost matrix. Like in the Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball. Or something. Anyway, if we do better in Football, we know that alumni will donated more to BigU. This is a win-win for geeks and jocks alike!”

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