Sunday, October 26, 2014

i <heart> nfl: sam bradford/kirk cousins/mike glennon

Good morning to you all! While the games have already started thanks to the Brits getting an afternoon game, I am working hard to get this email out as half-fast as possible. General NFL news includes that Rogel Goodell will be compelled to testify about what the NFL knew regarding the Ray Rice videotape. TESTIFY. 

GUYS... this isn't funny! You GUUUUUUYS

TNF: Leave it up to Peyton Manning to ruin Thursday night football again. While not quite a blowout, it was widely anticipated the Superchargers could make it a game against the Broncos. 

SMF (9:30am): Tally-ho! In what is likely a dual bid to convince the Queen to allow Detroit to go into Canadian receivership while allowing Atlanta to get some practice in the home stadium of their division rival future London Bucs, this game takes place at Wembley Stadium. But this is the first time the NFL decided to give East Coasters the West Coast experience by not scheduling the game in accordance with usual football times. Hopefully this comes without the stabbings. In what looks like a metaphor for their season so far, my Dirty Birds don't know where they're going. But don't worry, I made an ATL victory a virtual lock by starting Matt Stafford in fantasy.

1pm: In a seamless continuation of our 14 hours of glorious football, my Bodymore Ravens get hosted by the red hot Cincy Bagels. Missouri loves company, fitting as the Stl Rams visit the KC Reidskins. Da Bears can't win at home, perhaps they can at Foxborough against the NE Pats. The hapless Minny Vikes visit the hapless TB Bucs. Instead of playing a football game this week, the Texas Houstons will investigate the disappearance of the former Houston franchise. The Seattle Seahawks, in their quest to become a purely defensive unit, are shedding all players with any offensive production, and who better to show them how to do that than the Carolina Panthers.

4pm-ish: Stay tuned for the Sadness Bowl (editors note: I was gonna call it this even before I read the KSK post): the worst team in football 0-7 Oakland Raiders are hosted by the just-beaten-by-the-Jaguars Cleveland Browns. You made winners out of the Jags, Cleveland, are you sure you wanna do that again? The Eagles are looking to get a leg up on division rival Cowboys with a victory against the Zony Cards. That these two teams each have a single loss this season forbodes a quite watchable late afternoon game. Oh and also the Colts and Stillers are playing. 

SNF: Will motivational posters be enough to motivate the NO Aints as the GB Packers check into the Hotel Katrina? 

MNF: Save yourself the pain of watching another Cowboys victory and instead check out the wonderful South Park episode about the Washington R-words.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

i <heart> nfl: colin kaepernick

It's still Pinktober, which raises the awareness of backfield cancer. We're still waiting to hear back from the Mueller report, but just for fun let's mention that John Elway's son got probation for a domestic violence case, but that's probably okay because it's only one of hundreds. Or maybe I'm just pissy cause the Ravens and Falcons play each other today.


TNF: Renewing a division rivarly, the NE Pats hosted the NY J-E-S-T in what was actually another surprisingly close Thursday night event. The game ended in true J-E-T-S from, by having the game-winning fieldgoal blocked in the final seconds, and also in true Pats form, by having a ref instruct a LBto move so as to not incur a 5-yard penalty, which would have made that final fieldgoal attempt a more manageable 53 yards. On Friday the J-E-T-S traded for WR Percy Harvin, thereby adding even more dysfunction to an already hilarious J-E-T-S squadron.

Sun 1pm (cleaning/organizing the ol' apartment): The once every four years when my beloved Ravens and Dirty Birds square off is a melancholic matchup, but at least Matt Ryan gets to be around people that care about him. Da Bears look for their first home win against a sometimes good Miami Fins team.Hodor and his Colts host the recently hapless Cincy Bagels, who have the dubious distinction of sharing the highest-scoring tie in NFL history last week with the Panthers. As everyone knows, ties are like kissing your sister, but these teams really slip her the tongue. The Seahawks attempt to make it even against the future (and past!) LA Rams by playing without a receiving core. The suddenly decent Browns will learn that in Florida, neither NFL franchises nor gubernational candidates have any fans, as they are hosted by the Jacksonville Baguars. The Eagles are on BYE this week, so Nick Foles has a chance to try those chicken tenders he's been hearing so much about.

4pm-ish: Can the NYCWTF Giants do their part to prevent a Cowboys winning-season apocalypse as they travel to Jerryland? Probably not. If the San Diego Superchargers stay classy against division rival KC Reidskins and no one is around to see it, does it still count as a win?

SNF: An excellent matchup between the Denver Broncos and Silicon Valley 110001ers has likely been ruined by the occurrence of a watchable Thursday night game.

MNF: An excellent matchup if it happened 5 years ago, the .500 Yinzburgh Stillers host the .500 Texas Houstons. Maybe we could have another tie?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

i <heart> nfl: jay cutler

Well it's Week 6, and already no team remains undefeated. Since it's October, the NFL is reminding us that breast cancer is also undefeated, and are apparently content to cure it through awareness instead of research. It was supposed to be a lightly-bruising week for the NFL PR depeartment, as the pre-tainted Mueller report investigating the Ray Rice incident has yet to come out. But lo, a casting call for the Will Smith-starring film 'Concussion' has been announced in Yinzburgh. Let's enjoy this game while it's still around!

You know, I thought my week sucked.

TNF: BEARD BOWL I! While resembling your standard Thursday night bloodbath after the first quarter, as Indy put up 24 while the Houstons laid a goose egg, it most surprisingly was not. The Houstons fought back to within a score, and Texas was driving down the field within the two minute warning. And then Ryan Fitzpatrick fumbled the ball and the game was over, no doubt because of the lack of 'Holding onto the Fucking Football 101' course offering at Harvard. 

Sun 1pm: (Brooklyn or my place): The Minny Vikes, the first team with the dubious distinction of being the first to start three different QBs, host the D'town Lions, the perennial snatchers of defeat from the jaws of victory, so look for the usual NFC North hilarity factor, especially with Megatron sidelined and a decent rookie QB starting for Minny. My Bodymore Ravens visit the NFC South punching bag TB Bucs. While the J-E-T-S are at home against the Broncos, their offense may be delayed due to the time zone difference. The Factory of Sadness could soon be manufacturing outbreaks as the Browns host the towel-laden Stillers. The Bagels host the Panthers in a contest to see whose defense went down the shitter the fastest. While the actual game might not be so bad, I'd much rather watch a beer chugging contest between Tom Brady and Kyle Orton.

4pm-ish (Lucky 7s, Jersey City): Really wishing I had an ATL Devin Hester jersey, I'll be on the road (PATH actually) to Jersey City, where I'll take in the Falcons/Bears game with a bunch of Bears friends of mine. Perhaps my Dirty Birds could gain an advantage by bringing their smartphones on the field, as da Bears have been instructed to ignore those Twitter terrorists. The DC Redskin Potatoes travel to the only state that doesn't think their name is offensive, and will proceed to be defeated by a QB who is still concussed. Will a stout Seattle secondary prevent Dez Bryant from bailing out Tony Romo again? Does Richard Sherman shit-talk in the woods?

SNF (My couch or a gutter, depending on the outcome of the previous game): In a divisional battle between two surprisingly competent NFC East rivals, the Philly Iggles host the NY Football Giants in a matchup that hopefully features a plethora of Manningface.

MNF: I just checked Stubhub, and the price to see the Santa Clara Niners visit the baseball-crazed city of StL was a cool 11 bucks. That would be totally worth it to see the imminent firing of SF coach andnoted spazz Jim Harbaugh, but apparently the Frisco front office does not want cake now.

Friday, October 10, 2014

spending the money

There have been a few announcements over the past few months of big technology companies placing large sums of money betting on the future of computing, in particular the quantum computing variety. At first glance, it seemed to vindicate my entire career decision of getting involved in the physics found at the end of Moore's Law, with quantum computing my subdiscipline of physics for the past year (and nanotechnology being the previous one, so also yay!). But I find this raises some important questions, with answers to be eventually discovered over the long term, so the more important to start thinking about them sooner.

We'll begin with Microsoft, who made a splash into the scene of quantum computing with the establishment of Station Q in 2006, a sort of home to quantum computing theorists and a network of experimental labs on retainer. Recently they're in the news again for their continued investigation into the a <deep breath> topological quantum computer based on the ν = 5/2 fractional quantum Hall state </inhales>. This is the sort of thing that was heavily researched in the 70's and 80's and netted a couple Nobel prizes in the process, mostly owing to the advances in materials science that allowed growth of high-purity AlGaAs/GaAs films (you'll find transistors made out of this in your cell phone). Quick explanation: these films act as a two-dimensional conductors in which the collective behavior of electrons mimic particles that possess charges that are a fraction of the electron, which is neat because fundamental particles with this property don't exist. Those with the specific fraction of 5/2 (and at least another one, I'm pretty sure), have world lines that get all tangled up in knots, hence the 'topological'. And this actually improves the lifetime of the quantum information considerably, assuaging one of the major obstacles in building quantum computers. Theorists in particular love this implementation of quantum computing, and if you look back at the sum Microsoft is spending on this ($10 million, FOR REALZ?), you'll see that's all they can afford. No big fancy labs are being built with that kind of money, and Microsoft has no experimental effort to support experimental research. As a substitution, they do provide grants to experimental endeavors, with the Kouwenhoven group at Delft University in the Netherlands being the most notable. And actually they've been researching a related quasi-particle called the Majorana fermion, which has been a hot area of condensed matter physics research lately. What's not been so hot recently, however, is research into quantum Hall physics, with this guy apparently leading the experimental charge to understand the ν = 5/2 fractional state at Bell Labs (in Murray Hill, NJ), which hasn't been a hot place to work for 20 years. This is interesting because I know nobody working in this experimental subfield and, perhaps recently, considered every research group on the East Coast appropriate for the condensed matter experimentalist that I am (was?) without happening upon this group.

If dropping serious bones is your kind of thing, then IBM takes the cake with the announcement of three billion (!) invested in the future of computing. While supporting many efforts besides quantum computing, including nanophotonics, carbon in both graphene and nanotube form, and low power transistors such as tunnel field effect transistors and III-V nanowires, one can see IBM is serious about superconducting qubits by hiring former members of the Yale and UCSB quantum computing groups and putting them in PR videos. IBM certainly has the research facilities for experimental advancement in this fields, with a group at Watson Lab (Yorktown Heights, NY) leading the way, both experimentally and theoretically. Superconducting qubits have the distinct advantage of their fabrication being compatible with existing silicon semiconductor fabrication methods, and that you get to design the parameters of your qubits rather than dealing with whatever you can trap. But with Big Blue seemingly getting out of the hardware fabrication business, there are questions about its commitment to actually making things (as opposed to providing solutions!). But I suppose the superconducting qubits are easy enough to make, and there's always value in the talent and patents. Sweet delicious patents.

Google is known for making big bets on nascent technologies, and perhaps slightly less well known than the self-driving car, last year the Googs went in with NASA on a D-Wave machine. This purchase went over with much fanfare, including this past Feburary's cover of Time Magazine, but since I'm discussing quantum computing, I will stop talking about D-Wave right now. More far-reaching, however, is Google's hiring of John Martinis, the leader of one of the most prominent superconducting qubit groups in some sort of new arrangement I can't say I've seen before.

Quantum computing is one of many solutions we'll see in response to the expiration of Moore's Law in the next decade or so, when the number of transistors on a chip no longer doubles every 18 months. Concurrently there seems to be a change in the nature of scientific funding, with corporations providing grants to academics directly, previously the purview of government agencies and more recently public-private partnerships. Although this could just be news to me as a physicist; I seem to recall Intel sponsoring parts of the ECE department at my alma mater. The hybridization, if you will, of the Martinis group at UCSB with Google is definitely something to follow, especially since it's not so clear at this point what is going on. Seemingly contradictory to these splashy announcements is Microsoft's recent shuttering of their Silicon Valley research facility, suddenly and without warning, and the fact that IBM's committed 3 billion is actually a maintaining of current levels of funding for chip development. Which begs the next question: with these large companies doling out the cash on scientific research, what do they expect in return: PR, patents, talent, a working quantum computer...?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

i <heart> nfl: joe flacco

Welcome to Pinktober, where football fans are reminded of something else that's bad for women! I personally won't be able to catch any of the games with you, cause I'm on the West Coast for my brother's wedding. This email comes to you early by virtue of my procrastination in writing the best man speech. Enjoy!

No first downs for you!

TNF: The Packers rolled all over the Vikes in another Thursday night onslaught that can only be described as good for my fantasy teams. 

Sun 10am PDT (some bar in the San Diego Airport): It's not so lonely in Lone Star State as Texas' two teams square off. Now that the NYF Giants are scoring off the field, can they handle the sometimes potent Dirty Bird offense? Or will they just continue to bench themselves? After spraying blood and guts everywhere, my Bodymore Ravens travel to Indianapolis, hopefully not permanently this time. The suddenly hapless Panthers host da Bears in a contest of animals that lurk in the woods. The Rams have chosen to name a starting shitty QB instead of having everyone wait  in anticipation of which shitty QB will start for them as they host the Eagles, who are too tired to actually play football for more than a half.

4pm-ish EDT (35,000 feet): I will be on a J-E-T from San Diego to NY as SD hosts the NY J-E-T-S. Fun fact: the Ryan brothers are the defensive geniuses behind the two teams whose defenses are without an interception all season. The KC Reidskins travel to Silicon Valley to take on the 110001ers.

SNF (Couch): This game is the Bagels to lose as the NE Pats look quite hapless, with their only win of the year being against the Raiders in a game where every point was scored by a '-kowski'.

MNF: A rematch of that famous divisional game when RG3's knees were first blown out. Look for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks to run up the score against the Washington [censored].