Author Archives: dabacon

Goodbye Professor Tombrello

This morning I awoke to the horrible news that Caltech Physics Professor Tom Tombrello had passed away. Professor Tombrello was my undergraduate advisor, my research advisor, a mentor, and, most importantly a friend. His impact on me, from my career … Continue reading

Posted in Caltech, Self: Meet Center. Center: Meet Self., Teaching | 5 Comments

Sailing Stones: Mystery No More

My first research project, my first research paper, was on a perplexing phenomenon: the sliding rocks of Death Valley’s Racetrack playa. Racetrack playa is a large desolate dry lake bed that has one distinguishing feature above and beyond its amazing … Continue reading

Posted in Geology, Go Ahead, Waste Your Time | 1 Comment

Two Cultures in One of the Cultures

A long time ago in a mental universe far far away I gave a talk to a theory seminar about quantum algorithms. An excerpt from the abstract: Quantum computers can outperform their classical brethren at a variety of algorithmic tasks….[yadda … Continue reading

Posted in Extralusionary Intelligence, Off The Deep End, Quantum Computing | 3 Comments

Error correcting aliens

Happy New Year!  To celebrate let’s talk about error correcting codes and….aliens. The universe, as many have noted, is kind of like a computer.  Or at least our best description of the universe is given by equations that prescribe how … Continue reading

Posted in Astrobiology, Computer Science, Extralusionary Intelligence, Off The Deep End | 10 Comments

Portrait of an Academic at a Midlife Crisis

Citations are the currency of academia. But the currency of your heart is another thing altogether. With apologies to my co-authors, here is a plot of my paper citations versus my own subjective rating of the paper. Hover over the … Continue reading

Posted in Go Ahead, Waste Your Time, Quantum Computing, Self: Meet Center. Center: Meet Self. | 1 Comment

When I Was Young, I Thought It Would Be Different….

When I was in graduate school (back before the earth cooled) I remember thinking the following thoughts: Quantum computing is a new field filled with two types of people: young people dumb enough to not know they weren’t supposed to … Continue reading

Posted in Quantum Computing, The Loony Bin Called Academia | 9 Comments

Why I Left Academia

TLDR: scroll here for the pretty interactive picture. Over two years ago I abandoned my post at the University of Washington as a assistant research professor studying quantum computing and started a new career as a software developer for Google. … Continue reading

Posted in Extralusionary Intelligence, Go Ahead, Waste Your Time, Off The Deep End, Programming, Self: Meet Center. Center: Meet Self., The Loony Bin Called Academia | 12 Comments

A Paradox of Toom's Rule?

Science is slow.  You can do things like continue a conversation with yourself (and a few commenters) that started in 2005.  Which is what I’m now going to do 🙂  The below is probably a trivial observation for one of the … Continue reading

Posted in Physics | Leave a comment

4 Pages

Walk up to a physicist at a party (we could add a conditional about the amount of beer consumed by the physicist at this point, but that would be redundant, it is a party after all), and say to him or … Continue reading

Posted in Go Ahead, Waste Your Time, Off The Deep End, Physics, Quantum, The Loony Bin Called Academia | 4 Comments

The Quantum Interregnum Decoherence Continues

The College of Cardinals has been in conclave for over a month now and leaks to the public indicate that the cardinals are still stalemated.  What does this portend for the world?  The end?  A new beginning?  Only entropy (which … Continue reading

Posted in Off The Deep End | 2 Comments