Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One Meter Teleportation Using Charged Ions

I just read an article in Scientific American that describes how Steven Olmschenk and co-authors (Science article) are able to transfer a qubit (quantum bit) from one Ytterbium ion to another that are sitting one meter apart. This is the first demonstration of long-range teleportation between two ions. The Scientific American article goes on to describe why teleportation is an essential ingredient in quantum repeaters and how they can be used to transfer data in quantum processors.
Point to note: Teleportation is not faster-than-light communication. Alice the initiator of the teleportation protocol, and the one who is sending quantum information to Bob needs to send classical information on a classical communication channel essentially telling him which measurement operation to perform in order to correctly acquire her quantum information. Classically we can't communicate faster than the speed of light. Hence the limitation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Categorically Not - Dark Matters

The first Categorically Not talk of the new year is scheduled for February 1st (Sunday) at the Santa Monica Art Studios, 3026 Airport Ave. The talk starts at 6:30, but I suggest arriving early at 6:00 to enjoy the refreshments and to chat with other folks there. I enjoy going to these talks which are being organized by the brilliant and marvelous K.C. Cole. I am reproducing the content of the talks from the Categorically Not website:


Dark times are also interesting times, and today we have reasons galore to ponder the mutlifaceted richness of darkness. Dark matters frighten us because they are mysterious, unknowable, unpredictable. But it can also be fun to explore dark places. Strange, even wonderful, things hide there—all but a smidgeon of stuff that makes up the universe, for example. Other things only bloom in darkness: It’s likely that our primitive ancestors evolved in the icy black depths of Earth’s ocean floor. As for the darkness of the human heart, it’s a place both historians and artists explore for clues to what makes us tick—sometimes not tick so well.

Our February 1 Categorically Not is about as dark (and as much fun) as it gets. Wendy Freedman, first woman Director of the Carnegie Observatories, will talk about her current efforts to understand the identified “dark energy” that appears to account for 70 per cent of the stuff of the universe--a strange repulsive entity that seems to pushing galaxies apart (of the other 30 per cent, 25 per cent is “dark matter,” which is also unidentified); Wendy is currently building the largest telescope on Earth at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile--its images will be 10 times as sharp as those from the Hubble Space Telescope.

As for darkness in the human heart, Jonathan Kirsch will tell us how everything we know about torture, totalitarianism and thought control we learned during the Inquisition; his fascinating new book, the Grand Inquisitor’s Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of God, traces practices used today in Iraq (and the Holocaust) to our medieval masters. Jonathan is a literary attorney and author of numerous other books, most recently, A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization (and he’s such a delightful guy!).

Shakespeare also knew a thing or two about darkness, so actor, author and director Nancy Linehan Charles will show and tell about her new production of Macbeth, which recently completed a sold-out run at the Pacific Resident Theater in November. Nancy’s been in everything from Charlie Wilson’s War to Six Feet Under, and--among other honors--won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Featured Performance in Toys in the Attic in 2003; she also creates, produces and directs Shakespeare for children, and is working on a one-woman show about ‘60s activist lawyer Frances Jalet.

The program will take place at our usual location, Santa Monica Art Studios, at Santa Monica Airport. Come at 6 for refreshments and explore the studio space; the program will begin at 6:30. For more information and directions, visit:

We ask for a $5 donation to cover expenses.

RSVP to 310/397-7449

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Perimeter Scholars International Program (PSI)

I have been asked by Perimeter Institute (PI) to spread the word for their new and upcoming Scholars International (PSI) program in cutting-edge theoretical physics. I was at PI last summer (see here) and had a really great time. The researchers are at the top of their game, and are very friendly, approachable and helpful. It is a very open environment for collaboration and sharing ideas. I highly recommend this program. I would have applied myself, but I think I am a little late for getting a Masters. I have reproduced part of the text that Neil Turok (PI Director) e-mailed me earlier this week.

PSI is an innovative, Masters level course designed to prepare students for cutting-edge research in theoretical physics. It provides a broad overview, allowing students to choose their preferred specialisation, and extensive tuition in formulating and solving interesting problems.
The due date for applications is February 1st: applications received after this date may still be considered but only as long as places remain available.
A number of outstanding lecturers have already signed up to teach, including for example Yakir Aharonov, Phil Anderson, Matt Choptuik, Nima Arkani-Hamed, John Cardy, Ruth Gregory, Michael Peskin, Sid Redner, Xiao-Gang Wen, and a number of Perimeter Institute research faculty. They will be supported by full-time tutors dedicated to the course.
All accepted students will be fully supported.
For further details, see

So, APPLY, APPLY, APPLY! There's no harm, and if you get in the experience will be very fruitful.

Friday, January 2, 2009

IGI Airport, New Delhi, 12/30/08, 5:00 pm

I found myself in front of a very stern looking Indian security officer at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, India. I couldn’t go through the security check because I had forgotten to ask for a carryon baggage tag from the Asiana personnel who checked my passport and ticket and checked in my luggage. Apparently he assumed that I knew that a certain baggage tag would be required at security check-in.

IGI airport was in chaos today because all the early morning flights had been delayed due to an untimely fog that had blanketed the city the night before. And by delay I mean anywhere from ten to fourteen hours! Passengers were pissed, tired and angry. And why shouldn’t they be? Someone was missing his/her connecting flight in Chicago, while someone was missing a wedding anniversary somewhere in England. This was not the first time in IGI’s history that fog had hit the airport so hard that none of the flights could land or take-off. This is a problem that has plagued this airport for years, and for years the Indian government has done very little about it. Apparently you need a sophisticated radar technology that can guide planes safely onto the runway, but somehow this is not completely operational yet. Now I don’t like comparing apples and oranges, but in this case I don’t think that I can resist. When developed countries can land aircrafts in a fierce blizzard, then why can’t India After all IGI airport is the airport of the capital of the second fastest growing economy in the world. The airport was in complete shambles today. The airport has always been in complete shambles. renovate and upgrade its radar systems that can guide airplanes safely during the foggy months of December and January?

Ah, but let’s get back to my earlier story. I asked the security officer what I should do about the baggage tag, and he just shrugged his shoulders and said that it wasn’t his problem. Where O where would I find an Asiana representative. I turned toward what looked like people who worked at the airport. I asked one of these people and in reply they said that they were ground staff and didn’t work for Asiana. I was flummoxed. I proceeded to go another security officer and asked him in Hindi about this baggage tag and his reply was to get any old tag from any airline. It didn’t matter! See the problem was that I couldn’t walk back to the any of the counters as I had already passed the sacred immigration walls and going back now would be breaking of the sacrosanct and unsaid rules of IGI airport. I started scanning some of the fixtures that had a slight resemblance to desks and I found an Air India tag. HA, talk about irony!

I finally realized why they needed the baggage tag. They needed to stamp it after it went through the X-ray scanner. I love how everything gets stamped when one is traveling. The immigration officer stamped three different pieces of documentation – my passport, immigration card (which you fill out), and my boarding pass. Afterward when I passed through security I got two more stamps – one on my boarding pass (yet again), and the second on the highly coveted baggage tag.

So here's my tip for anyone leaving New Delhi via the IGI airport. If you are traveling during the winter months, especially December and January, ask your travel agent about the weather conditions in New Delhi. Arrive at leaast three hours before your flight, which means that wherever you are staying in New Delhi, give yourself at least one hour of drive-time. Delhi traffic has become quite unpredictable. Once you arrive at the airport, never leave your luggage out of your sight. And I mean NEVER! IGI may be an international airport, but you are still in India!

Here's another suggestion while you are traveling through India. Be cool and have patience, lots and lots of it. A step outside your hotel room or your home in India is an adventure. What kind of an adventure? Well, that you'll have to figure out for yourself. :)