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Communication

My CTV News interview on the Higgs Boson

My CTV News interview on the Higgs Boson

CTV News Higgs Boson

On Tuesday, before the LHC made its announcement of the Higgs Boson, I went on CTV News to talk about what the Higgs is up, why physicists are excited, and why it should not be called the God particle.

The Quantum Dance

My TEDxWaterloo talk is out! With the help of a magician, a live band, and nearly 500 dancers from around the world, I explain how quantum entanglement can be used to build super fast computers. For more information on how the talk was put together check out the Project Q website.

Each part of the dance represents a different aspect of quantum computing. In the coming days I plan on writing a longer blog post that breaks down the routine and explains what is happening. Stay tuned.

Project Q passes 300 participants

With a flurry of videos being submitted last night and today there are now 316 people who have taken part in Project Q! This is far beyond what I had hoped for. Thank you Lindy Hoppers for being so awesome.

Latest round of Project Q Submissions

We are up to 206 Lindy Hoppers who have taken part in Project Q! There have been a number of new cities who have submitted videos, and I know of a number of others who are either filming or working on their videos as the deadline approaches. I spent the past weekend working with the dancers, band, and other guests who will take part in the talk. It is going to be amazing. I cannot wait to show everyone the final product.

Project Q bloopers in Rio

The Rio crew put together this hilarious blooper reel from their Project Q shoot. Extra credit for the awesome Chariots of Fire" homage at the end.

I am looking forward to seeing the final videos!

Project Q videos rolling in!

This past week there has been a flurry of activity with scenes around the world submitting their Project Q videos. So far 90 dancers from six cities have submitted videos! I know there are several more cities shooting their videos this weekend. I'll update the blog (and Project Q page) once the new submissions are online.

Here are some of the videos that have come in so far:

While I was in Vancouver last week I also filmed the local scene there performing the routine. I haven't had a chance to post it online, but will do so later on this weekend.

A big thanks to everyone who has helped out so far. I really appreciate it.

The happy secret

Shawn Anchor shares some of the secrets to being happy. This talk contains almost everything I have come to believe about happiness.

A superb TED talk filled with humour and truth. Some excellent suggestions at the end for "creating lasting positive change":

  • Find three things to be grateful for each day
  • Journal the positive things that happen
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Perform random acts of kindness

Good advice.

The Mechanics - a documentary profiling quantum physicists.

 

A documentary by Karol Jalochowski that profiles a number of physicists working at the Centre for Quantum Technologies1 in Singapore. It is great to hear fellow physicists talk about why they love science and the things that attract them to quantum mechanics.

From the Vimeo description:

THE MECHANICS is a short documentary project about the crazy world of quantum mechanics. The mechanics - all based in the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore - are: Stephanie Wehner, Dagomir Kaszlikowski, Elisabeth Rieper, Kwek Leong Chuan, Pawel Kurzynski, Artur Ekert, and Momo Lu Yin.

  1. The CQT in Singaporean equivalent of the Institute for Quantum Computing where I work. 

Brian Cox (with the help of Simon Pegg) explains why Quantum Mechanics is beautiful

 

Captivating one hour lecture by Brian Cox on Quantum Mechanics. This is one of the best public science lectures I have ever seen. Using one of the largest uncut diamonds ever discovered, Brian delves into the structure of the universe and explains how diamonds bigger than our Sun can be formed.

Special celebrity volunteers, like Simon Pegg, help Brian convey the physics. I love how he offset the technical parts of the talk with humour. Brian Cox is, in many ways, the next iteration of Carl Sagan.

I wish the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) created more programs like this.

(via scienceisbeauty)

Please Stop. I'm Bored

The organizers of the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony solved an ancient problem: How to keep speeches from droning on and on... The solution, called "Miss Sweetie Poo", is an 8-year-old girl who tells long-winded speakers to "Please stop. I'm bored. Please stop. I'm bored..." Here are Miss Sweetie Poo highlights from several Ig ceremonies.

I wish Miss Sweetie Poo worked the Oscars.

I Don't Understand What Anyone Is Saying Anymore

Dan Pallotta, writing for the Harvard Business Review, nails it. I recently attended the Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa. There was so much of this crap communication happening. Not between the top people there, but rather amongst those in mid-level positions in an organization. I couldn't understand half of what was being said, nor did I care to try by the end. What was sad was how many of these people worked in communications departments.

Dan writes:

When I was younger, if I didn't understand what people were saying, I thought I was stupid. Now I realize that if it's to people's benefit that I understand them but I don't, then they're the ones who are stupid.

And later adds:

So you get phrases like, "You should meet this guy with the SIO. He's sort of this kind of social entrepreneur thinking outside of the box in the sustainability space and working on these ideas around sort of web-based social media, and he's in a round two capital raise in the VP space with the people at SVNP." How many times have you heard what you now recall to be precisely this sentence? […]

You will gain tremendous credibility, become much more productive, make those around you much more productive, and experience a great deal more joy in your working life if you look someone in the eye after hearing one of these verbal brain jammers and tell the person, "I don't have any idea what you just said to me."

(via Ben Brooks)

Why the Higgs Boson Matters

Kelly Oakes' winning physics essay in this years Science Challenge:

The standard model describes the behaviour and interactions of all of the most fundamental particles we have seen — and one other particularly elusive one that, physicists hope, we will see in the near future. The model was developed throughout the 20th century and finalised when the existence of quarks, the particles that make up protons and neutrons, was confirmed in the 1970s. At the time many of the particles predicted by the standard model were yet to be seen. Over the years since then, physicists have ticked these particles off, one by one, like items on a shopping list. Now they are left with just one remaining unfound particle — the Higgs boson.

60 Second Adventures in Thought

This video from Open University covers Zeno's paradox, the grandfather paradox, the Chinese room, Hilbert's infinite hotel, the twin paradox, and Schrödinger's cat.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zVaFjSxAZs

A great line from the twin paradox segment:

Time might fly when you are having fun, but when clocks fly they run more slowly in relativity.

TEDxBrussels: John Bohannon in collaboration with Black Label Movement

 

This is one of my favourite TED talks. John Bohannon completely blew my mind. In the space of eleven minutes using dancers he talks about laser cooling, super fluids, slow light, and cellular biology. This talk, especially the first half, is a synthesis of all the things I have come to believe about science communication. Incredible choreography and timing.

John also runs the popular Dance your PH.d contest I entered a couple years back. My favourite line from the talk:

I think that bad Powerpoint presentations are a serious threat to the global economy.

My only criticism is that during the second half, when he is making his point about Powerpoint and arts funding, the dancers were distracting. The attention should have been solely on John and what he was saying, not the lazy boy the dancers formed. I think it would have been more powerful to have the dancers leave the stage and then rush back in for the finale. The absence of the dancers would have fit nicely with his point about what would happen if arts funding is cut. Still, this is a very minor quibble. I loved this talk and will be watching it over and over again.

(via Madhur Anand)

Science vs. Wonder

I have often hear people say that science kills wonder. By dissecting nature through a rational process we lose the magic, myth, and story behind it all. Robin Ince, host of the BBC Radio program The Infinite Monkey Cage gives an entertaining TED talk that argues against this point of view. Feynman eloquently conveys this idea in this video, and Carl Sagan was the master when it comes to sharing the beauty science brings to the world.

For me, the question I have been trying to answer is who am I? Poetry, art, photography, and my conversations with others provide me with insights into myself. But so does science. As a physicist I study and try to discover the rules that govern nature. These rules are often encoded in mathematics that is intimidating for most. Yet these rules contain a beauty and elegance that rivals the greatest verses of any poet. I believe that physics is a poem that nature has written about how the universe works.

No matter how big we think the universe is, it is bigger. The stars we see in the sky, some of which would take thousands of years to reach riding a beam of light, are our closest neighbours. The same force that causes an apple to fall to the Earth also keeps the Earth in orbit around the Sun and is what collapses a star into a black hole. The carbon atoms that make up our bodies were once forged in the heart of a star. Studying physics is a humbling experience.

Science has only increased my capacity for wonder. I view science on equal footing with poetry, art, music and dance. If you don't see the wonder in nature it is because you are not looking hard enough.

Photos from opening night of the Quantum Physics and Harry Potter Show

A big thanks to everyone who turned out for the opening of the Quantum Physics and Harry Potter show last night. The show was a lot of fun. It is the first time I have seen people eating popcorn in a physics lecture! Dan and I are looking forward to the repeat performance tonight. I would also like to thank all of the IQC volunteers who helped make the show extra special, as well as Katharin, Colin, Martin, Jasmine, and Kim for all of the behind the scenes work. Here are some pictures that the IQC photographer Peter Kovacs took of the event.

Quantum Physics and Harry Potter talk invisible snitch

Quantum Physics and Harry Potter talk audience

Dan Trommater teleporting a 20 dollar bill during the Quantum Physics and Harry Potter Show

Demonstration of Spontaneous Parametric Downconversion during the Quantum Physics and Harry Potter Show

Quantum Physics and Harry Potter talk laser refraction

Krister talking during the Quantum Physics and Harry Potter Show

Martin and the levitating supercounducting train during the Quantum Physics and Harry Potter Show