Quantum Bayesian Networks

September 17, 2011

Perimeter announces Isaac Newton Chair

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 4:55 pm

Check out the following news article about Perimeter Institute (PI). PI and its sister institute, the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), are on the brink of something. Alas, neither institute is excelling at building an actual quantum computer (unlike UCSB, Yale, NIST, D-Wave, etc., etc.), but they are making great advances in chairs.

Perimeter announces Isaac Newton Chair
(By Ashley Csanady, The Waterloo Record, Fri Sep 16 2011)


WATERLOO — As window washers discussed the recent RIM stock prices while priming the windows of the new Stephen Hawking Centre at the Perimeter Institute for its grand opening Saturday, an IMPORTANT announcement for the think-tank’s future took place inside.

Dr. Xiao-Gang Wen will hold the inaugural Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics, the first of five, 10-year-long, tenured chairs to be filled, each named for a historically important physicist.

“There is not a single chair in the world named for Sir Isaac Newton, except this one,” said Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute. “This chair is a game changer in science. All of a sudden, the Perimeter Institute will be taken extremely seriously in the world of interior decoration.”

Bill Downe, president and chief executive officer of the BMO Financial Group, said his company is proud to invest in “what people are starting to call the emerging Quantum Valley here in Ontario. We think we have another Nortel or Justin Bieber in our hands.”

In the above picture, captured with an iPhone, Mike Lazaridis (the guy with the very white hair) shares a laugh with reporters after the announcement of the commodious chair.

Lazaridis, co-CEO of RIM, is the main financial contributor to PI and IQC. These two institutes currently employ more than 100 scientists full-time, and are planning to expand to 200 scientist, heck, make it 300, in the near future. It will all be funded from future sales of the Blackberry and Playbook.

“The IQC thinks” Lazaridis said, “that they can roll out Laflamme’s super-advanced non-scalable NMR quantum computer by September. The IQC also recently conducted a very impressive double slit experiment in a train, using the passengers of the train as photons. They are also very keen on quantum cryptography and a quantum internet. Just this month they held a school at IQC to teach undergraduates about quantum cryptography. Those students will be much in demand when post-quantum cryptography takes hold of the world.”


1 Comment »

  1. Check out this funny “news” article
    Ontario physics institute grabbing top scientists
    ( by Peter McMahon | Special to CTVNews.ca, Sep 24, 2011)
    I put a link to the above blog post of mine in the comments section of the “news” article in question and it was DELETED. Doubly funny. Reminds me of Bill O’Reilly “journalism”.

    Peter McMahon = A “journalist” who knows no limits to self-flattery and suppresses anyone who points out that he might be exaggerating a bit, or is omitting those elements of a news story that disagree with his personal opinion, or is out of his depth in commenting about science, a subject he clearly knows nothing about.

    full cite of the CTVNews.ca “news” article in question:
    WATERLOO, Ont. — Star power was out in full force last weekend, and not just for the Toronto film festival wrap-up.
    A who’s-who of Canadian celebrities — from astronauts Julie Payette and Steve MacLean, to “man-in-motion” Rick Hansen, to songwriter David Foster, to William Shatner — gave in-person and video tributes to the world’s most famous living scientist: Stephen Hawking.
    The occasion: the opening of the Stephen Hawking Centre at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario.
    “Special places like Perimeter encourage young scientists to be ambitious and bold,” Hawking said in an appearance via video.
    “History shows us today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology,” he continued, thanking the unique partnership of government and industry that made the building possible.
    When fully occupied, the $29-million, 55,000 square-foot Hawking wing will allow Perimeter to house the largest concentration of foundational theoretical physicists on Earth.
    So how did the city of Waterloo get to be a world hotbed for unlocking the secrets of the cosmos?
    “We’ve seen the incredible benefits that theoretical physics has played in our society,” said RIM-co-CEO Mike Lazaridis at the opening.
    Realizing the importance in investing in theoretical physics in the late 1990s, Lazaridis would eventually contribute a quarter-billion dollars of his own money to help found and support Perimeter and the nearby Institute for Quantum Computing.
    The new wing is the first facility specifically built for theoretical physicists. A hipper, more fun version of the stylish original building, the Hawking Centre looks like a spaceship wrapped around the outside of the existing Perimeter Institute. Inside, it’s a glamorous meeting of math and art — as if the building itself is daring the most boring person on the planet to be creative.
    “You have little alcoves with blackboards and a very high degree of visibility through almost the whole building so you can spot an interesting colleague to talk to from almost four stories away,” said Perimeter director and Hawking collaborator Neil Turok.
    Turok, Lazaridis and others hope the institute will be a haven of peace, collaboration and creativity that will bring the world’s greatest minds that much closer to solving the mysteries of what we are and how we came to be.
    The building
    To help raise the bar on Perimeter’s already world-renowned culture (“there are no ‘groups’ here,” says Turok, proud that the organization nurtures collaboration across disciplines and generations), Teeple Architects of Toronto have created a truly imaginative space in the Hawking Centre — one where Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry seems to have collided with the Starship Enterprise (ironic, since the cutting-edge research here might have been dismissed as fanciful hocus-pocus decades ago.)
    On the way from their office to talk out an equation with a colleague, a researcher might navigate one of a dozen glass-bordered staircases and catwalks that weave straight through floors (there’s even a three-and-a-half floor meeting space between the third and fourth floors) leading into nooks full of gutsy angled ceilings, elliptical skylights, and collaboration lounges whose glass writing walls peer down into lower floors on one angle, then become opaque on another.
    In the middle of the second floor by the two-storey Black Hole Bistro is a landscaped herb garden — one of a half-dozen green spaces within the borders of the building. The building itself is surrounded by several acres of green space and a number of wooden-bridge-crossed reflecting pools.
    As with the original building, practically any wall that isn’t glass is covered with blackboard space: One black wall in an outdoor fourth-storey lounge was immediately claimed as blackboard space by researchers who never realized the wall was simply metal that just happened to be black.
    The people
    Perimeter has already put Canada on the map by snagging some of the world’s most prominent scientists, including Hawking himself, who will be making regular research visits, and – just this week – MIT superstar Xiao Gang-Wen: a “game-changer” (in the words of PI director Neil Turok) who will now call Perimeter his full-time home.
    In an area of science where commercial applications are often decades or more away (in some cases, we’re still just starting to reap the benefits of Einstein’s theories), scientists at Perimeter have already made discoveries in the decade-or-so since the institute opened. Among some of the most recent:
    • Latham Boyle — helped develop a theory for how to detect super-massive black holes through gravity waves longer than the diameter of the entire Earth.
    • Raymond Laflamme — along with several colleagues — confirmed a key rule of standard quantum theory (which says that every particle in the universe behaves like a particle and a wave) with more accuracy than any other group has so far.
    • Luis Lehner developed an “early-warning system” for merging black holes, so scientists can locate and study pairs of these cosmic demons that are in the early stages of merging into one.
    • Zhengfeng Ji gained new insights into when quantum computers are the right tool for the job, and — perhaps more importantly — when they’re not.
    • Jaume Gomis and Takuya Okuda created new tools to study the strong nuclear force (one of the four basic forces of nature – another one being gravity), while Freddy Cachazo has found new theories to use particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider to help study such forces.
    “It’s a huge opportunity to work in such an inspiring place,” said Turok, as two espresso-toting colleagues leaned toward each other across matching comfy couches to riff on another idea. “Now, we have to live up to it by advancing the science as soon as possible.”

    Comment by rrtucci — September 25, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

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