March Meeting, Day 1

bear peering in glass
Actually I spent much of today working on my talk instead of going to sessions. The superconducting qubit sessions start tomorrow morning and basically run continuously until Thursday evening. I did go to some talks in the afternoon, though, mostly in D2: Ion Traps for Scalable Quantum Computation. (In some sense this is our competition.)
Ike Chuang, who is a big name in this field, gave the first talk, which laid out the challenges in making a practical quantum computer with ion traps. Most of this dealt with error correction; according to Shannon’s theorem (or maybe a quantum information version thereof) it should be possible to build an error-free quantum computer out of qubits that do make occasional errors, as long as the failure rate is below some threshold. Unfortunately in some cases they’ve looked at this requires a prohibitively large number of operations, as many as 1020. One can try to implement various error-correcting codes, such as Shor’s or Steane’s, but certain operations that are needed for a universal quantum computer don’t work within these codes. And in fact Chuang et al. have shown that there is no stabilizer code that allows a universal set of operations to be performed within the code—one has to decode first before performing at least one of the operations.
The other talks in the session were less abstract, and thus harder to understand (since I’m not terribly familiar with this architecture). The talk by Slusher described a proposal for a VLSI-based scalable ion-trap based quantum computer, which seemed impressive, except I’m pretty sure this is the one Chuang mentioned that would require 440 watts of laser power to operate.
I skipped out on the last talk to go to D8: Superconductivity: STM of Cuprates and see what the group I worked in as an undergrad was up to. However, I haven’t thought about STM of cuprates for a while now and only had the faintest idea what they were talking about.
A tempting alternative for the end of the day was Session D33: Focus Session: Quantum Foundations II. It starts out as a perfectly normal session, but somewhere around 4:30 becomes the dumping ground for crackpots. For example:

D33.00014 : Do Particles have Barcodes?
If an elementary particle shown in Fig 2 of gr-qc/0507130 has an UNSTABLE quantum connection to the rest of the universe calibrated by nature in terms of Planck times, as also proposed in my separate MAR07 abstract, there exists a possibility that each particle has a barcode of its own. Instability implies varying periods of connections and disconnections of particles to the universe, which would be equivalent to the varying widths of white and black strips of commercial barcodes. Considering the high order of magnitude of Planck times in a second, each particle and the universe generated by its radiations may have their unique birth times registered in their barcodes. My quest for the cause of consciousness, in MAR06 abstracts, as an additional implication of physics/0210040, leads to the inquiry if these unique parallel universes are like the ones that give rise to consciousness as proposed by some physicists. With all due respect, the attempts to explain TOE of inert matter may not be attempts to explain one step to climb up on a stairway at a time. They may be attempts to explain only half a step at a time to on a stairway made with only integer number of steps. The search for TOE assumes such a theory exists. Mathematics has no barrels to fire bullets that can shoot down a non-existent bird. A Hamiltonian knows no consciousness, a missing ingredient of biology made of particles or vice versa, and of realistic TOE.

The talk after that one describes a theory of Atonic Physics [sic], which sounds like an outtake from Monty Python’s bookstore sketch.

7 thoughts on “March Meeting, Day 1

  1. Mason

    Any abstract with a sentence that begins “With all due respect” that also contains the sentence “Mathematics has no barrels to fire bullets that can shoot down a non-existent bird.” is ok in my book. :)
    I need to find out if my video entry worked. I haven’t gotten any hate mail or IMs about it yet, so I’m not sure.

  2. JSpur

    I assume that, by the same token, mathematics has no hoses to shoot water to put out non-existent fires, like the one in your hotel.
    Nice photo of the peeping bear, by the way.

  3. Arcane Gazebo

    Mason: I haven’t managed to catch your video (I keep coming in at other points in the sequence, and then I have to go off to a session) but the sound seems to be off so I’m not sure it will have the desired effect.
    Wren: It seems to be made of concrete, fiberglass, and some other materials. From the inside, walking up from the meeting rooms it looks like a big blue bear crotch. From upstairs it looks a bit better, I’ll try to take a picture from inside.

  4. Mason

    Last year, only one of the videos had sound to my knowledge. One got to hear portions of “Back on the Chain” gang over and over again the entire time. I like the song, so it didn’t bother me too much (though it did get a bit repetitive even for me), but I can see how the people manning the battle stations (some of the GSNP people spent multiple hours at a time at the gallery) might not have been so appreciative of that, so maybe they decided not to have sound. I hope this doesn’t mean that mine didn’t get included, as I was supposedly good to go with everything according to the main organizer. Last year, the GSNP gallery was the easiest place for me to go and get good wireless access and since many of the people I wanted to talk to professionally at the meeting were checking up on things there every so often, it made sense for me to be there for multiple reasons.

  5. Jörg

    How did the d-Wave presentation/Q&A session go? any justification of claims two weeks prior?

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