As a postdoc at Caltech, I would often have lunch with John Preskill. About once per week, we would play a game. During the short walk back, I would think of a question to which I didn’t know the answer. Then with maybe 100 meters to go, I would ask John that question. He would have to answer the question via a 20 minute impromptu lecture given right away, as soon as we walked into the building.
Now, these were not easy questions. At least, not to your average person, or even your average physicist. For example, “John, why do neutrinos have a small but nonzero mass?” Perhaps any high-energy theorist worth their salt would know the answer to that question, but it simply isn’t part of the training for most physicists, especially those in quantum information science.
Every single time, John would give a clear, concise and logically well-organized answer to the question at hand. He never skimped on equations when they were called for, but he would often analyze these problems using simple symmetry arguments and dimensional analysis—undergraduate physics! At the end of each lecture, you really felt like you understood the answer to the question that was asked, which only moments ago seemed like it might be impossible to answer.
But the point of this post is not to praise John. Insead, I’m writing it so that I can set high expectations for John’s new blog, called Quantum Frontiers. Yes, that’s right, John Preskill has a blog now, and I hope that he’ll exceed these high expectations with content of similar or higher quality to what I witnessed in those after-lunch lectures. (John, if you’re reading this, no pressure.)
And John won’t be the only one blogging. It seems that the entire Caltech IQIM will “bring you firsthand accounts of the groundbreaking research taking place inside the labs of IQIM, and to answer your questions about our past, present and future work on some of the most fascinating questions at the frontiers of quantum science.”
This sounds pretty exciting, and it’s definitely a welcome addition to the (underrepresented?) quantum blogosphere.
The Quantum Cardinals