The Quantum Pontiff

Theorist In a Box

When I was a postdoc, I made it a habit to try to spend at least one week a year visiting Isaac Chuang’s lab at MIT. There were many reason for this, including that Ike has been a collaborator of mine, and Ken Brown, another collaborator was working as a postdoc in the lab. But another reason was…it’s damn nice for a theorist to sit in a real experimental lab. Oh sure, you need to keep the theorists away from all the cords and knobs for fear that they might actually touch something. And don’t ever let a theorist chose the music being played in the lab or you’ll end up hearing some real wacky “music.” But as a theorist I got a lot out of simply being around the actual enactment of the ideas that otherwise exist for me only in a paper or in my head. Being in a lab is very inspiring for an aspiring theorist.

So now I could go and bother one of the physics people and ask them if I could work in their lab. But this is 2009, damnit, and that 2 in 2009 certainly stands for web 2.0 or science 2.0 or iTechnology 2.0. In other words I want the same effect of visiting an experimental lab without getting of my lazy bum and walking across campus. So…

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Introducing Theorist in a Box™

Are you a theoretical scientist who has lost nearly all connections with the real world and wants to be reminded that there are actual experiments going on in laboratories around the world? Are you a lab group that doesn’t have a theorist to kick around the lab and tell “don’t touch that”? Now there is a solution for both of these problems: Theorist in a Box™!

Here’s how this nonexistent service works:

  • Theorists who are interested in being inside the box are screened by our crack team of weeders. Those that pass our rigorous testing then use their own, or a company provided, webcam to connect to our specially constructed network (Skype).
  • An experimental group in need of a theorist logs into our network, selects an appropriate theorist, and downloads that theorist right onto their very computer.
  • Using the wonders of modern technology the experimental group now has it’s own pet theorist that it can talk to, ask questions, and most importantly, make fun of! On the other side of the coin, the theorist gets a live feed of the experimental groups lab and so achieves a deep connection with the real world. This, my friends, is the ultimate win win situation!

Imagine the fun, experimentalist, when you

  • Ask the theorist questions which aren’t really relevant to your experiments but you know are hard to solve. See the sweat bead on the theorists head as he or she struggles to defend their inflated ego!
  • Show the theorist a closeup of your Ti-saphire laser and repeatedly tell the theorist “don’t touch that!”
  • Make the theorists use units in which c does not equal 1. Watch the theorist squirm while using google to look up the conversion.

And you, dear theorist, imagine the fun when you

  • See real working experiments, not working. Watch as the mundane details of actually doing an experiement pass right before your eyes! Witness failure over and over and over and over again.
  • Laugh at the trivial questions the experimentalists ask you. Pretend that they are hard so that they don’t get offended. Think how big your ego can become after only a few of these questions are lobbed your way!

So, call now and order yourself a Theorist in a Box™! Operators aren’t standing by, and you can be the first to get your very own theorist. Theorists in search of a box should also contact us: our rates are competitive with most academic salaries (but really, what jobs aren’t?)

(All sales are final. No warranty as to the theorists actual performance is provided. May be void in states which consider theorists a protected class.)

Comments

  1. #1 Matt Leifer
    June 24, 2009

    Cool, now we can do a Wigner’s friend experiment on the theorist in a box.

  2. #2 Kaveh
    June 24, 2009

    Haha, reminds me of the Chinese room for some reason: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room

  3. #3 doug l
    June 24, 2009

    He’s not gonna hit me in the mouth with a skateboard if I fail to understand his core principle, is he?

  4. #4 doug l
    June 24, 2009

    He’s not gonna hit me in the mouth with a skateboard if I fail to understand his core principle, is he?

  5. #5 Perry
    June 25, 2009

    Dave Headroom!

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