The Quantum Pontiff

Visiting Stanford and Cal

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I’ve spent the last two days in the San Francisco bay area visiting first Stanford and then Berkeley.

Highlights of the trip included:

  • Talking to Jelena Vuckovic about the work she and her group have been performing on strongly coupling photonic crystals to quantum dots.
  • Talking to Thaddeus Ladd and Yoshihisa Yamamoto about their work on ultrafast pulses for controlling electron spin which appears in Nature Physics. Picosecond single qubit gates, mmmm.
  • Talking with Vaughan Pratt. I did not tell him that I am teaching his (and Knuth and Morris’) algorithm this Friday! Oh, and I shook Donald Knuth’s hand. I also forgot to thank him for TeX.
  • Seeing Hideo Mabuchi’s new setup in Stanford and in particular his cool tracking device for tracking fluorescent biomolecules.
  • Talking with quantum theorists in Berkeley. Berkeley’s quantum group has an amazing cool setup in the Hearst Mining Building. While I was there I had an office in a basement and in a damn long room which was repeatedly mistaken for a classroom. As graduate students we ran a competitions to establish a pecking order on who had to get up and answer the door. You can look at my thesis for a final ranking on that score.

All in all a good trip. Stanford and Cal never fail to impress, the former at the heart of so much in Silicon Valley and the later certainly the premier public research university around. Indeed I’d probably argue that these two institutions benefit immensely from their pseudo-near location. It probably helps that they are stereotyped differently, though, if you ask me, they have a lot more in common than anyone in Berkeley or in Palo Alto would care to admit :)

Comments

  1. #1 gwangung
    October 29, 2008

    It probably helps that they are stereotyped differently, though, if you ask me, they have a lot more in common than anyone in Berkeley or in Palo Alto would care to admit :)

    Have ANYTHING in common with Cal weenies??? NEVER!

    (OK, maybe pure detestation of USC, but….)

  2. #2 Thad
    October 29, 2008

    Back in the early 90’s as a Cal physics undergrad, a group of us discovered that the Society for Physics Students had become defunct, but still had an office in LeConte no one was using.

    We declared ourselves the new SPS group, made each other vice-president of something or other, and the department saw fit to give us all keys to the office. We installed a fridge and some playing cards and had a place to hang out the rest of our time there.

    One time, we got a hold of the template the department used to announce upcoming seminars, and made a series of spoof postings. Of the hijink’s we kids got into.

    Thanks for the memories.

  3. #3 Rogue Epidemiologist
    October 29, 2008

    Golden Bears have nothing in common with Trees, except for that whole bit about being carbon-based.

    Have fun in the parts of the Bay that aren’t the City. Make sure you get a slab of Cheeseboard pizza before you skip town.

  4. #4 Ian Durham
    October 29, 2008

    Perhaps this partially accounts for the success of my beloved Buffalo Bills this year – QB Trent Edwards is a Stanford grad (in political science, no less) and RB Marshawn Lynch is a Berkeley grad.

  5. #5 Stephan
    October 30, 2008

    I’m sorry I missed your talk at Berkeley… unfortunately I had office hours (as an instructor) to attend to.

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