Gork revisited, 2018

It’s been almost 10 years since I made the post Are you Gork? Over the last decade, both scientists and non-scientists have become more confident that we will someday create: A. AGI (= sentient AI, named “Gork” :-)  See Rise of the Machines: Survey of AI Researchers. B. Quantum Computers. See Quantum Computing at a Tipping …

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Quantum Computing near a Tipping Point?

I received an email from a physicist colleague suggesting that we might be near a “tipping point” in quantum computation. I’ve sort of followed quantum computation and quantum information as an outsider for about 20 years now, but haven’t been paying close attention recently because it seems that practical general purpose quantum computers are still …

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Big Ed

Today I came across a recent interview with Ed Witten in Quanta Magazine. The article has some nice photos like the one above. I was struck by the following quote from Witten (“It from Qubit!”): When I was a beginning grad student, they had a series of lectures by faculty members to the new students about …

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Steven Weinberg: What’s the matter with quantum mechanics?

In this public lecture Weinberg explains the problems with the two predominant interpretations of quantum mechanics, which he refers to as Instrumentalist (e.g., Copenhagen) and Realist (e.g., Many Worlds). The term “interpretation” may be misleading because what is ultimately at stake is the nature of physical reality. Both interpretations have serious problems, but the problem …

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Epistemic Caution and Climate Change

I have not, until recently, invested significant time in trying to understand climate modeling. These notes are primarily for my own use, however I welcome comments from readers who have studied this issue in more depth. I take a dim view of people who express strong opinions about complex phenomena without having understood the underlying …

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Patterns on the sky

I’m busy reviewing ~200 promotion and tenure cases for my day job, so I don’t have much time to post about the BICEP2 observation of primordial gravitational waves via their effect on the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Instead, I refer you to Sean Carroll, Lubos Motl and Liam McAllister (guest poster at …

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Feynman and the secret of magic

Lubos Motl seems to have taken offense at my last post: Feynman’s Cognitive Style. This is a rather ironic outcome, given that I’ve been a “Feynman idolator” since I was in high school :-) In fact, I chose my college (Caltech), career, and even research specialization under his influence! In the previous post, I noted that …

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Feynman’s cognitive style

Some interesting finds in this 1966 AIP oral history interview with Feynman. I have always felt that Feynman was cognitively a bit “lopsided” — much stronger mathematically than verbally. This might be partially responsible for his way of learning — it was often easier for him to invent his own solution than to read through …

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Nobels for Higgs and Englert

Congratulations to Peter Higgs and François Englert on their Nobel prize. A bit of background from an earlier post How the Higgs boson became the Higgs boson: IIRC, I met Peter Higgs in Erice in 1990. He was quite a nice fellow, but the story below by Steve Weinberg illustrates how capricious is the allocation …

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