March Meeting, Days 2 and 3

I thought about posting last night but this was pre-empted by the fact that the slides for my talk were unfinished (and also the Clarke group dinner). First I want to register a complaint:
hund's rules for conference seating
This is how physicists (or maybe everybody) fill seating at conferences. The first people to arrive take the seats on the outside of the rows, and then fill in to the middle. This is really annoying when arriving in the middle of the session and having to climb over a bunch of people to get into the one empty seat. I am aware that this is a really lame complaint, but please, fill from the middle!
Now that I’ve got that out of my system: the last couple days were a blur of superconducting qubit talks. There’s a lot going on in this field, and most groups had three or four (10-minute) talks in a row to have enough time to explain all their results. One experiment I thought was very neat was this one from Terry Orlando’s group at MIT. In flux qubits like the ones we study, one can measure the temperature by sweeping the flux bias across the degeneracy point and measuring the population of the qubit states. Higher temperatures will give wider curves, as energies further away from the degeneracy point are more likely to be populated by thermal activation. When we measure this on our qubits we usually get something like 150 mK, mysteriously somewhat higher than the fridge temperature (roughly 50 mK).
What the Orlando group did was to apply an analog of laser cooling (as in atomic physics) to their qubit, using a microwave pulse to induce transitions that ultimately cool the system. As a result they were able to see these temperatures (as measured from the widfh of the qubit step) reduced by a factor of 100, from 300 mK to 3 mK. It was pretty impressive; I’m not sure how important it is for quantum computing or whether it’s something we should be doing with our qubits, but it’s a nice application of techniques from another field.
This morning I gave my talk, which was helpfully introduced by Frank Wilhelm’s talk immediately prior, in which he said something like “the really important development for scalability is what Travis Hime will talk about next”. So the pressure was on, but I think I did ok. After this was… more qubit talks, but I was mostly decompressing after finishing mine and didn’t pay as much attention as usual.
Tomorrow I go to see talks by other Clarke group members, including John himself. And then, an evening flight back to Berkeley.

10 thoughts on “March Meeting, Days 2 and 3

  1. Wren

    Geologists/Geophysicists/AGU attendees do this too.
    The only conferences I’ve seen where this paradigm doesn’t dominate are the bitty ones, where everyone attends the same session all the time, and people just stake out their preferred territory.

  2. Mason

    Only ok, huh? :) Well, here’s the pressing question: Did you tell the Angelina/Brad joke? That was a moral imperative, as you know. I’d do it if I were giving the talk, but then you’ve seen the crap I pull when I speak at conferences, so this shouldn’t surprise you. (Speaking of which… Take a look at your e-mail. I need easter egg suggestions. I’ve come up with a couple Caltech references I’ll find a way to use, but I’d like to have some other stuff as well and then I’ll figure out a way to get some of this stuff in.)
    I’ve noticed the inside/outside bit as well and agree it tends to be a parallel session thing. What I’ll usually do is stand up until the session is between talks and then I’ll find something in the middle.
    Part of the problem, though, is if you’re bouncing between multiple sessions, there is a desire to sit on the edge so that one can leave without bothering other people.

  3. JSpur

    This seating behavior is also typical of mystery conferences except the audience tends to be middle-aged females packing no shortage of lbs under their tee shirts worn with tails hanging out who often can be observed doing needlepoint while the panelists labor at topics such as “Cheering for the Bad Guy- the Anti-Hero as Protagonist,” and “Profanity-How Much is Too Much?” and “Cozy v. Hard-Boiled: the Eternal Question.” Only an accomplished contortionist can make it to a middle seat without managing to catch a knitting needle in the arse.

  4. Arcane Gazebo

    Mason: I did use the Angelina/Brad line. I was worried that no one would laugh at 8:30 in the morning, but I did get some laughs.
    It’s more convenient to leave if you’re sitting on the edge, but if you’re taking an edge seat in an empty row, the people you’d otherwise be bothering when you leave are people who haven’t arrived yet, and who will have to climb over you to get to the remaining seats in the middle. So they’re going to be bothered either way. :)

  5. Wren

    I knit during meetings.
    So far, I have only stabbed people less important and august than I am.
    My future PI managed to dump me on the floor once (we were sitting on opposite ends of the table…

  6. Jolene

    I’m going to a (very small) conference in a couple of weeks. In light of the discussion so far, I’ll remember to sit at the very end of a row during each talk while knitting socks with five 1.5mm-diameter double-pointed needles.

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