Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Short items

The end of the calendar year has been very busy, leading to a slower pace of posting.  Just a few brief items:
  • I have written a commentary for Physics Today, which is now online here.  The topic isn't surprising for regular readers here.  If I'm going to keep talking about this, I need to really settle on the correct angle for writing a popular level book about CMP.
  • This article in Quanta about this thought experiment is thought-provoking.  I need to chew on this for a while to see if I can wrap my brain around this.
  • The trapped ion quantum computing approach continually impresses.  The big question for me is one that I first heard posed back in 1998 at Stanford by Yoshi Yamamoto:  Do these approaches scale without having the number of required optical components grow exponentially in the number of qubits?
  • Superconductivity in hydrides under pressure keeps climbing to higher temperatures.  While gigapascal pressures are going to be impractical for a long long time to come, progress in this area shows that there does not seem to be any inherent roadblock to having superconductivity as a stable, emergent state at room temperature.
  • As written about here during the March Meeting excitement, magic angle graphene superconductivity has been chosen as Physics World's breakthrough of the year.


Peter said...

The Physics Today link gives 404 Not Found, at the time of writing this comment. Adding /full to the end fixes the problem, however.

Douglas Natelson said...

Thanks, Peter. Fixed.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said, but I think the problem to a large extent stems from the fact that efforts to popularize science (not just condensed matter) are not really rewarded at many places as far as credit for career advancement goes. Publications and grants are what get you hired and tenured, and I for one imagine that many people would love to spend more time outreaching to the general public but are discouraged by the current incentive structures. I think that for the problem to be permanently fixed, we will need an inherent change in the system that encourages people, especially young, untenured researchers, to popularize condensed matter physics as much as it encourages them to get papers and dollars.

Douglas Natelson said...

Anon, I hear you, and under the current way that research universities work, it's clear that for untenured faculty, popularization and outreach should be lower priorities than teaching, and that classroom teaching is practically speaking a lower priority than research (papers + grants). I think it's a symptom of other problems that even fully promoted, tenured faculty are somehow not incentivized to do more outreach. Certainly not everyone should try to become Carl Sagan or Brian Greene or NdGT, but the fact that the number who try is countably tiny says something.

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