Quantum Mechanic

Content from 2011-11

eBooks and the eLibrary

posted on 2011-11-30 06:58:06

Perhaps you don't know, but the longest I've worked anywhere was the Chappaqua Public Library, where I was a page for two and a half years.  Also, when people my age reminisce about TV shows they watched when they were little, I usually don't know them.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers.  Never watched them. At all.  I was too busy reading.
So, while I've been taken out of the reading world for a while. I have some surprisingly strong feelings lurking under the surface when people start messing with books.  So when shit like this happens, I get pissed off.

I don't think it's too far a stretch to say that the internet is the library of our age, and that restricting what people can 'write' or 'publish' is moronic and in the worst traditions of ruling powers.  So, you can imagine how proud I was of my country when I learned about this.

I just wanted to say that I called all 3 senators today, and I know nobody reads this blog yet, buf if you get here, then go bother senators about that.  llet them know that it's important, because this is about being safe to say what we want, when we want.

You can't change the system from within

posted on 2011-11-29 23:30:17


posted on 2011-11-29 23:28:27

The last few months have gone by with a speed and obliviousness I couldn't have imagined, and don't miss in the least.  Moving in was a blur, and things still haven't come together quite yet in terms of decoration, but this apartment, like many before it, is starting to feel like home.

One of the tough things I dealt with recently was quitting my job.  I was working as a researcher at Columbia, which really is the best job I could have hoped for out of school.  Unfortunately, they could only offer me the pay of a graduate student, although I wouldn't get (and didn't want) housing or classes through Columbia.  Also, the professor really didn't know what I was working on in a way that made life very stressful for me.  It gave me a glimpse of grad school and what it could be, and I hope I keep this in mind when I finally go for my own grad experience.  What I found was multi-faceted, and I hope many of them were Columbia, because they really made the experience unpleasant.

First, the professor had no idea what I was doing.  He was an expert in quantum optical nanodevices, which apparently doesn't really overlap with experimental quantum optics for quantum computing very much at all.  The experiment I was trying to pull together on my own was nothing new, and in fact would have just replicated results over ten years old for no reason I could make out.  I felt stuck on that project and didn't think it was nearly so important that I should be putting the time, effort, and emotion into it.

Second, there was almost no lab community.  The few people who were kind enough to talk to me didn't lead to much conversation at all.  The people seemed to barely talk to each other, and many of my lab mates were difficult to speak with at all, because their english was sometimes lacking.

The list goes on as I process it all.  One of the most difficult parts, though, was the reaction of my family.  While I was working at this job, I was stressed, worried, and extremely unhappy.  The constant presence of deadlines, the contradictory instructions of my professor, and the ontinuing lack of results made my days full of dreading being at work and not being able to do anything all over again.  Despite my misery, all my family could manage was to tell me to suck it up and stick to it.

I am all for sticking to hard situations.  I often insert myself willingly into strange or difficult situations because I know I'll learn from them.  In this case, though, I was genuinely unhappy, and not learning anything and I was stuck between the rock and hard place of a job I hated and a family that thought being in work was more important than my happiness.

Now I'm unemployed, and while not knowing when I'll be making money again is hard, I know I'm far happier than I was at that job.  Pos


posted on 2011-11-08 01:49:00

Just a little update on what has been going on with my move and new living situation in New York City.


Found.  I now live in Washington Heights.  It's pretty interesting being in a place where the first lanaguage is probably Spanish and mostly the younger generation knows English.  The supermarkets have different focus -- much more yucca, lime, and corn.  Also, there is quite a lot of malt available, which I've only put into rice and beans so far.

Also awesome is that we live within 20 minutes of the Little Red Lighthouse.  Which was a character from a children's book when I was little and I had always wondered about.  I heard that it still existed, but I didn't believe it until about 3 weeks ago.


So far, I've met up with two different groups of people in the city, and I'm looking forward to more.  I've been to the Drinking Skeptically event put on by NYC skeptics, and the Kaffeestunde put on by Columbia's Deutsches Haus.


Finally am doing paperwork for Columbia's Department of Mecanical Engineering, where I'm doing quantum optics research!  Not sure how long I want to stay, but after starting work almost two and a half months ago, it's about time they got around to paying me.

The Conjunction Fallacy

posted on 2011-11-02 15:14:47

I was just reading through the wonderful debriefing that is Skepchick quickies, and came across this Scientific American piece about Sherlock Holmes and logical fallacy.The gist of it all is, that we are more likely to choose two things to describe something than one.  The article cites a scholarly article where people were described with various attributes and then choices were given for the subject to guess which phrase best described them.  When told the character was good at math, the subjects were far more likely to guess that they were an accountant and something else -- even when the choice 'accountant' by itself was available.

The logicallly fallacious part of this all, is that a subset (i.e. accountant and something) is smaller than the set it's a subset of (i.e. accountants).  Because of that, it's much less likely that the conjuction of the two sets (accountants and gymnasts, say) is the correct answer.

I may have to go back and read some Holmes to see if I can notice this quality of his.  I think I read most of it on a flight from Japan to Germany by way of China, and I'm pretty sure my brain blocked most of that to keep me sane.