Two more shorties

For anyone living under a rock with no access to nerd social media, Alain Aspect, John Clauser, and Anton Zeilinger have finally won the Nobel Prize in Physics, for their celebrated experiments that rubbed everyone’s faces in the reality of quantum entanglement (including Bell inequality violation and quantum teleportation). I don’t personally know Aspect or Clauser, but Zeilinger extremely graciously hosted me and my wife Dana when we visited Vienna in 2012, even bringing us to the symphony (he knows the director and has front-row seats), and somehow making me feel more cultured rather than less.

As usual, the recipe for winning the Nobel Prize in Physics is this:

(1) Do something where anyone who knows about it is like, “why haven’t they given the Nobel Prize in Physics for that yet?”

(2) Live long enough.

Huge congratulations to Aspect, Clauser, and Zeilinger!


Elham Kashefi, my quantum complexity theory colleague and treasured friend for more than 20 years, brought to my attention a Statement of Solidarity with Students in Iran from the International Academic Community. Of course I was happy to sign the statement, just like I was back in 2009 when brave Iranian students similarly risked their lives and freedom for women’s rights and other Enlightenment values against the theocracy. I urge you to sign the statement as well. If enough Shtetl-Optimized readers disapprove of their brutal repression, surely the mullahs will reconsider! More seriously though: if any readers can recommend a charity that’s actually making a difference in helping Iranians participate in the modern world, I’d be happy to do another of my matching donation drives.

12 Responses to “Two more shorties”

  1. DavidM Says:

    Take that, Einstein!

    Along similar lines, what should Europeans/USians be lobbying our governments to do? Presumably the culpable people are already sanctioned and general economic sanctions just make life worse for the Iranian people.

  2. James Gallagher Says:

    I was a high school teenager when Aspect’s celebrated experiment was reported in the mid 1980s. The BBC decided to commission a series of interviews about Quantum Mechanics hosted by Paul Davies – they broadcast on the Classical Music station Radio 3, evidently the subject was considered too high-brow even for BBC Radio 4 in those times! A Book was published with the Interviews “The Ghost in the Atom” (edited by Davies and Brown) and it was my first real introduction to this wonderful science. Along with Bell and Aspect there are also interviews with likes of Wheeler, Deutsch and Bohm. I didn’t understand or get many of the points made by the interviewees (and still don’t) but the parts that I could grasp were enough to spur me on to a lifelong love and interest in Physics.

    I’m happy for the three winners, blue LEDs and graphene are great too, but not quite so fundamental…

  3. Tim Makarios Says:

    DavidM #1:

    what should Europeans/USians be lobbying our governments to do?

    Open borders.

  4. Raoul Ohio Says:

    James Gallagher #2,

    I thought that was broadcast on the Quantum Music station!

  5. gentzen Says:

    (2) Live long enough.

    “This prize is an encouragement to young people – the prize would not be possible without more than 100 young people who worked with me over the years.” – Anton Zeilinger during the press conference where he was announced as one of the 2022 #NobelPrize laureates in physics.

    Maybe because it came totally out of the blue, but my first thought was that they really should try to award the prize earlier, at a time where the risk that the worthy recipients are already dead is still reasonably small.

  6. fred Says:

    Btw, the book I was mentioning in the other thread, which was covering quite a bit the efforts of Alain Aspect, was THE AGE OF ENTANGLEMENT, by Louisa Gilder. Not a physics book with equations, but a very interesting read.

  7. Pete Says:

    Curious to hear your take on the Deepmind matrix multiplication result!

  8. arch1 Says:

    Gentzen #5: Within their self-imposed constraints (max # awardees per subject each year, etc.), I assume the Nobel committees are trying to do something like minimizing some weighted sum of (# nondeserving recipients) and (# deserving nonrecipients), as viewed by posterity.

    Their typical wait time before pulling the trigger for a given person/achievement clearly impacts this tradeoff, but I think you’d have to make a more complete (maybe even field-specific) case if you wanted to convincingly argue that they should nudge that setting in a particular direction.

  9. gentzen Says:

    arch1 #8: I thought the Nobel Prize wants to make some positive impact, and that this impact will be bigger if the recipients still give regular public interviews and lectures at the moment when they are awarded the prize. Both Aspect and Zeilinger were quite active in this respect over many years, but much less so in recent years. Perhaps Corona played its part too. So when Penrose was awarded the prize two years ago, it felt completely normal. And maybe this years prize came less “out of the blue” than it felt to me, and will have more impact than I expected. I had put it into the “quantum computing” category, but the reactions I have read so far talk much more about the “fundamentals of quantum physics” category.

  10. Qwerty Says:

    I’m curious what “nerd social media” means!

  11. Fari Says:

    Thank you Dr. Aaronson for raising awareness about Iran.
    Iranians are taking into the streets to change the regime in charge, and they are fighting against bullets with rocks and bear hands. The only thing we can do from abroad is to be their voice and bring attention to our representatives because it is not being talked about it too much.
    But as for charity, any money you donate would not reach Iranians as of now. There is even a chance the regime might get hold of that money with the amount of lobbying they do!
    But now I’d like to take a moment here to use my voice and remember all the Iranians who lost their lives in the unfair fight for freedom. This includes 16 year old Nika Shakarami, 16 year old Abolfazl Adinezadeh, 16 year Sarina Esmailzadeh, and hundreds more. In fact thousands more if you look at it since Bloody November.

  12. Just read this Says:

    Thanks for your support.
    Fyi there’s not really a reliable charity working in Iran RN because charities might be used to shortcut the financial sanctions and if there are charities that are actually doing good for protestors they will be shut down by the regime pretty quickly. Though Ive heard of charities making emergency efforts and medical help to the dire situation in Kurdistan(Iranian part) and I think they might be reliable as Kurdistan might be more accessible through the Iraq’s Kurdistan region but generally it’s good to view charities for Iran with skepticism as they might be involved with money laundering, or scam.
    The most important things Americans can do is to ask their politicians to cut tie with potential Islamic republic’s lobbyists like NIAC, many prominent politicians in the US have accepted donations from NIAC, or have ties with them names that come to mind are Ilhan Omar and Ro Khanna.
    Also obviously, US politicians should Be encouraged through their constituents not to negotiate with a regime that has not been elected democratically. Things like negotiations with Taliban or Islamic Republic are mind blowing given that I used to think USA has this policy of not negotiating with terrorists.

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