Author Archives: chb

Are articles in high-impact journals more like designer handbags, or monarch butterflies?

US biologist Randy Schekman, who shared this year’s physiology and medicine Nobel prize, has made prompt use of his new bully pulpit. In How journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science: The incentives offered by top journals distort … Continue reading

Posted in Science, Science By Press Release, Scientific Publishing | Leave a comment

Cosmology meets Philanthropy — guest post by Jess Riedel

My colleague Jess Riedel recently attended a conference  exploring the connection between these seemingly disparate subjects, which led him to compose the following essay.–CHB People sometimes ask me what how my research will help society.  This question is familiar to … Continue reading

Posted in Astrobiology, Astronomy, Economics, Off The Deep End, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Scientific Birthdays –Toffoli gate honored on namesake’s 70′th

Tommaso Toffoli’s 3-input 3-output logic gate, central to the theory of reversible and quantum computing, recently featured on a custom cake made for his 70′th birthday. Nowadays scientists’ birthday celebrations often take the form of informal mini-conferences, festschrifts without the … Continue reading

Posted in General, Physics, Quantum | 7 Comments

Resolution of Toom’s rule paradox

A few days ago our Ghost Pontiff Dave Bacon wondered how Toom’s noisy but highly fault-tolerant 2-state classical cellular automaton  can get away with violating the Gibbs phase rule, according to which a finite-dimensional locally interacting system, at generic points … Continue reading

Posted in General, Mathematics, Physics | 5 Comments

Non-chaotic irregularity

In principle, barring the intervention of chance, identical causes lead to identical effects.  And except in chaotic systems, similar causes lead to similar effects.  Borges’ story “Pierre Menard” exemplifies an extreme version of this idea: an early 20′th century writer … Continue reading

Posted in Mathematics, Physics | Leave a comment

Simple circuit "factors" arbitrarily large numbers

Last Thursday, at the QIP rump session in Beijing, John Smolin described recent work with Graeme Smith and Alex Vargo [SSV] showing that arbitrarily large numbers can be factored by using this constant-sized quantum circuit to implement a compiled version … Continue reading

Posted in Computer Science, Hype, Quantum Computing, Quantum Computing Bastardizations | 3 Comments

Apocalypses, Firewalls, and Boltzmann Brains

Last week’s plebeian scare-mongering about the world ending at the wraparound of the Mayan calendar did not distract sophisticated readers of gr-qc and quant-ph from a more arcane problem, the so-called Firewall Question.  This concerns what happens to Alice when … Continue reading

Posted in Off The Deep End, Quantum, Science | 1 Comment

Haroche and Wineland win Physics Nobel

The physics prize was shared between experimentalists Serge Haroche and David Wineland, longtime leaders in the study of atom-photon interaction.  In recent decades both have honed their techniques to meet the challenges and opportunities opened by “quantum information science” which … Continue reading

Posted in News, Quantum, Quantum Computing, Science | 1 Comment

A way around Nobel's 3-person limit

  Most  fields of science have become increasingly collaborative over the last century, sometimes forcing the Nobel Prizes to unduly truncate the list of recipients, or neglect major discoveries involving  more than three discoverers. In January we pointed out a … Continue reading

Posted in General | 3 Comments

Throwing cold water on the Quantum Internet

There has been a lot of loose talk lately about a coming “Quantum Internet”. I was asked about it recently by a journalist and gave him this curmudgeonly answer, hoping to redirect some of the naive enthusiasm: …First let me … Continue reading

Posted in Physics, Quantum Computing, Quantum Cryptography, Science By Press Release, Technology | 5 Comments