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This week and weekend have been quite busy--tons going on. And I think that's going to continue. I've got a bunch I want to post about, so I might split this up into several.

First off... went to Preskill's talk on Thursday. The lecture itself was extremely basic; a combination of various topics that I've given several lectures myself on in more depth. Nevertheless, he seems like a good guy, explains things well, and had some really great pictures for slides. Little dragons flipping qubits and busy beavers running in to correct them, very cute.

What was a lot more interesting was the conversation a few of us had with him after everyone else left. He mentioned that quantum computers might soon be useful for doing efficient lattice QCD simulations; well actually, someone else asked him about it and he agreed that there were good prospects for it. (By soon I don't mean very soon, but sooner than they could be used to break cryptography, for instance). Since lattice simulations are something I am interested in, I find this pretty cool. I hadn't really considered that idea in particular before. I, of course, couldn't resist asking him what he thought about David Deutsch's view of quantum mechanics in light of quantum information. Preskill says he considers himself a Bayesian, and therefore disagrees with Deutsch about how to interpret quantum. I mentioned a paper of Deutsch's that I found particularly enlightening and convincing (Information Flow in Entangled Quantum Systems), and he said he remembers reading it but didn't find it "nearly as interesting" as I did. He agreed that there was a lot of good stuff coming out of quantum information theory which can teache us things about interpretting QM, but he's personally more of a fan of Chris Fuch's ideas (another Bayesian). He also made fun of an (alledged) comment Deutsch made that "building a quantum computer will be experimental confirmation of the many worlds interpretation." I agreed that, if Deutsch did indeed say that, he is exaggerating quite a bit. But somehow I don't think Deutsch would be that careless in his choice of words, and probably said something very similar but subtlely different. While he has proposed hypothetical experimental outcomes which would unambiguously be a "smoking gun" for many-worlds, a quantum computer is going to work no matter what interpretation you take--so like the black hole information, it doesn't falsify any of the other interpretations, it's just an example of where it becomes awkward to use any other language. Which is already the case, in my opinion, so that doesn't change much of anything. Tom Banks invited him to dinner, but he had to get back to the airport. Too bad, I would have loved to continue that conversation!

Second... my friend Marcia, of Cuddle Party fame, will be visiting my neck of the woods this weekend. She's finally doing a cuddle party in San Francisco (they've hit just about every other city already, it was only a matter of time!) More on this in a bit.

Thirdly, I've been thinking more and more lately that this year our physics and astro departments have had a significant lack of wild parties compared to last year. But Friday made up for it; we started out at an official school-sponsered GSA party (with the usual free beer & liquor plus keraoke), then had a choice of two after-parties to hop over to. I think I chose the right one, but then again I heard the other was pretty crazy too so you never can tell. Lots of strange things happened; almost got choked to death after trying to wrestle a severely intoxicated person much heavier than me to the ground, my neck is still sore after 2 days. Very bad idea on my part. At the same party, one guy stole another guy's boxers, put them on and jumped in the hot tub, all without bothering to ask (or even having ever met the guy before)... leaving boxerless guy nothing to wear home.

This weekend I graded two midterms for two different classes, took me 2 and a half days to get through them but I'm finally finished and can now start on my homework. That's the main thing that's set me back timewise. I hope I can catch up before next weekend otherwise I'll be really far behind by finals week.


domino plural

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