This is the first of many short recounts on the lives of physicists. We hope to dispell some stereotypes about physicists, and open a window so that scientific outreach can be sometimes also about the scientists, their hopes and anxieties, in the context of their science.
The alarm sounds and wakes me up. I know myself: I set it a bit early so I can chill, browse reddit, check instagram, the usual. Anyway. I then head to the kitchen and serve myself a bowl of my personal delight, cereal. Maybe I’ll have a coffee? I’m surprisingly unattached to coffee even though I enjoy it a lot.
With cereal, the physics of the day starts.
There’s this neat website where physicists usually upload their papers before they’re published, arxiv.org . I’ll browse the website to see what’s new, skim through a few papers that catch my attention. It’s like easing myself into the workday, it’s technically work-related but you don’t need to put in a whole lot of energy into it, so it’s a nice slow start to the day.
The rest of the day usually flies by. I go into “math mode” –I put my headphones on and work on my research. Sometimes the day is short, sometimes long. Sometimes I’ll end the day on a high, and happily play music; sometimes, I end the day abruptly because the math gets too confusing.
This is the second installment of our “What is…?” series.
During these months of quarantine, a lot of us have probably thought once or twice that we have been putting on some quarantine-weight. And while that is true (or not, for you, athletic reader) what is actually happening, is that you body is acquiring mass. A somewhat trivial difference, you may say, as weight is just the force inflicted by gravity on to some body. And it strikes me as a funny thing that in our everyday physics, everything comes intuitively to us, force, speed, acceleration, rotation stuff. Everything -but mass. It feels intuitive, but the more you think about it, the more you will end up asking yourself… What is mass?
Engineers hate them. These guys show you the one neat trick to fix your quantum computer in the throw of a dice!
Sometimes I’m really picky about music, I want to listen to that one song stuck in my head. But more often, I’m much more relaxed about it, I go to Spotify, click a playlist for my mood, and let it randomly choose the songs for me. I’m not interested in listening to one specific song, I care more about the overall mood. Maybe something cheerful and upbeat because I’m exercising? Or maybe some lo-fi beats because I want to chill or study.
A friend of mine recently suggested a documentary to me about the mind’s healing power. Terrible pseudoscience all around, but it landed some nice points about stress. Nevertheless, I was horrified at how easy the word quantum was dropped, without any context, and any reason. And this is not an isolated event, I have seen this trend for some time. And I think that is not only a trend in the circles of pseudoscience. In science-fiction and superhero movies for instance, quantum jargon is used as mumbojumbo and plot devices, admittedly a whole more harmless way. However, with buzzwords like quantum healing or quantum consciousness on the rise, we physicists must take a stand and clarify what does the word quantum really mean.
– An overview of the recent developments in quantum computing –
Vienna, 12th of October, 2019:
Eliud Kipchoge became the first human to run a sub 2-hour marathon. Once believed to be unattainable, his time, 1:59:40, will not be officially recognized as a world record . The reason for this is that the experiment to run 26.2 miles in under two hours was conducted under specific conditions which are not comparable to standard racing situations. Having an electric car and a team of 41 world-class runners in front of him, setting the pace, he broke “the last barrier of modern athletics”. Or to put it in his own words: “Vienna is about running and breaking history, like the first man on the moon.” Continue reading “Is quantum advantage moving too fast for you to keep up?”→
I don’t think we have to tell you that the Universe is a very complex and huge place. But in case we actually do, here it is: the universe is bigger and more complex than the human mind can fathom. Think about our galaxy, with its millions of stars, which have their own solar systems with some planets and hundreds of asteroids and general debris. All of them attract each other gravitationally and modify the path that each other has, literally all the time! How can one even start to try to predict how the Universe works with such staggering number of bare elements?
Pictorial Quantum Simulation: Atoms are sitting in a lattice built up by standing light waves, ready to be used for studying the most intriguing questions of state of the art research.
cOOKING UP A qUANTUM sIMULATION
Supercomputers are cornerstones of modern industry. They help to design complicated objects like aircraft, provide the handling of big data sets in AI, trade shares at stock exchanges and set the standards for today’s encryption. However, there exist highly complex problems involving the smallest building blocks of our world which cannot be solved on these supercomputers yet. Continue reading “Quantum Simulation Cookbook”→
Transporting renewable energy to where it’s needed lies at the heart of the human endeavour to get rid of the need for fossil fuels. Superconductors can do so without loosing any of the precious electricity on the way, seemingly defying physical intuition. Find out in this article why many body physics is needed to understand their counter-intuitive behaviour, what role quantum entanglement plays and how quantum computation might lead to the discovery of materials which may give us the tools for a greener future.