The expert’s corner

We are all Wilsonians now

Ken Wilson Ken Wilson passed away on June 15 at age 77. He changed how we think about physics. Renormalization theory, first formulated systematically by Freeman Dyson in 1949, cured the flaws of quantum electrodynamics and turned it into a precise computational tool. But the subject seemed magical and mysterious. Many physicists, Dirac [...]

2017-01-13T10:05:53-08:00June 18th, 2013|Reflections, The expert's corner|26 Comments

Quantum Matter Animated!

[youtube=] by Jorge Cham What does it mean for something to be Quantum? I have to confess, I don't know. My Ph.D was in Robotics and Kinematics, so my neurons are deeply trained to think in terms of classical dynamics. I asked my siblings (two engineers and one architect) what comes to mind for them [...]

Entanglement = Wormholes

One of the most enjoyable and inspiring physics papers I have read in recent years is this one by Mark Van Raamsdonk. Building on earlier observations by Maldacena and by Ryu and Takayanagi. Van Raamsdonk proposed that quantum entanglement is the fundamental ingredient underlying spacetime geometry.* Since my first encounter with this provocative paper, I [...]

A Public Lecture on Quantum Information

Sooner or later, most scientists are asked to deliver a public lecture about their research specialties. When successful, lecturing about science to the lay public can give one a feeling of deep satisfaction. But preparing the lecture is a lot of work! Caltech sponsors the Earnest C. Watson lecture series (named after the same Earnest [...]

Project X Squared

Alicia Hardesty: full-time fashion designer, part-time nerd. Have you seen the movie Frankenweenie? It’s a black and white cartoon (an experiment in itself these days) with a very important message: Don’t be afraid to do what you love and don’t be afraid to be good at it. The main character [...]

2017-01-13T10:05:54-08:00April 1st, 2013|Reflections, The expert's corner|2 Comments

De divina proportione

As a mathematician, I often wonder if life would have been easier were I born 2,400 years ago. Back then, all you had to do to become eternally famous was to show that $latex 3^2+4^2=5^2$ ( I am looking at you Πυθαγόρα!) OK, maybe I am not giving the Ancients enough credit. I mean, they [...]

2017-01-13T10:05:55-08:00March 2nd, 2013|Reflections, The expert's corner|25 Comments


Why go swimming, if you can do math instead inside a room with no windows? Back in 1997, during my visit to beautiful Mar del Plata in Argentina, I was asked to solve a math problem that I soon realized was close to being unsolvable. The setting was the Banquet for the 38th [...]

2017-01-13T10:05:56-08:00January 23rd, 2013|Real science, The expert's corner|26 Comments