Theoretical highlights

Top 10 questions for your potential PhD adviser/group

Everyone in grad school has taken on the task of picking the perfect research group at some point.  Then some among us had the dubious distinction of choosing the perfect research group twice.  Luckily for me, a year of grad research taught me a lot and I found myself asking group members and PIs (primary [...]

Clocking in at a Cambridge conference

Science evolves on Facebook. On Facebook last fall, I posted about statistical mechanics. Statistical mechanics is the physics of hordes of particles. Hordes of molecules, for example, form the stench seeping from a clogged toilet. Hordes change in certain ways but not in the reverse ways, suggesting time points in a direction. Once a stink [...]

Inflation on the back of an envelope

Last Monday was an exciting day! After following the BICEP2 announcement via Twitter, I had to board a transcontinental flight, so I had 5 uninterrupted hours to think about what it all meant. Without Internet access or references, and having not thought seriously about inflation for decades, I wanted to reconstruct a few scraps of [...]

Oh, the Places You’ll Do Theoretical Physics!

I won’t run lab tests in a box. I won’t run lab tests with a fox. But I’ll prove theorems here or there. Yes, I’ll prove theorems anywhere… Physicists occupy two camps. Some---theorists---model the world using math. We try to predict experiments’ outcomes and to explain natural phenomena. Others---experimentalists---gather data using supermagnets, superconductors, the world’s [...]

Guns versus butter in quantum information

From my college’s computer-science club, I received a T-shirt that reads:while(not_dead){ sleep--; time--; awesome++; } /*There’s a reason we can’t hang out with you…*/The message is written in Java, a programming language. Even if you’ve never programmed, you likely catch the drift: CS majors are the bees’ knees because, at the expense of sleep and [...]

Making predictions in the multiverse

I am a theoretical physicist at University of California, Berkeley. Last month, I attended a very interesting conference organized by Foundamental Questions Institute (FQXi) in Puerto Rico, and presented a talk about making predictions in cosmology, especially in the eternally inflating multiverse. I very much enjoyed discussions with people at the conference, where I was invited [...]

2017-01-13T10:05:47-07:00February 13th, 2014|Theoretical highlights|31 Comments

Reporting from the ‘Frontiers of Quantum Information Science’

What am I referring to with this title? It is similar to the name of this blog–but that’s not where this particular title comes from–although there is a common denominator. Frontiers of Quantum Information Science was the theme for the 31st Jerusalem winter school in theoretical physics, which takes place annually at the Israeli Institute for Advanced [...]

2017-01-13T10:05:47-07:00January 21st, 2014|Reflections, Theoretical highlights|3 Comments

Polarizer: Rise of the Efficiency

How should a visitor to Zürich spend her weekend? Launch this question at a Swiss lunchtable, and you split diners into two camps. To take advantage of Zürich, some say, visit Geneva, Lucerne, or another spot outside Zürich. Other locals suggest museums, the lake, and the 19th-century ETH building. The 19th-century ETH building [...]