Blogu Picchu

I’m blogging from Machu Picchu, the famed summer home of the Inca emperors, nestled so deeply in the Andean mountains of Peru that the Spanish conquistadores never managed to find and destroy it. (I’m in Peru to attend the LATIN’2012 conference next week. It’s a business trip, I swear!)

I’ll be happy to post photos later if anyone wants.  In the meantime, this just seemed like as good a time as any to break radio silence.

33 Responses to “Blogu Picchu”

  1. rrtucci Says:

    Espero que también tomes tiempo para hacer amigos con gente probre y cholos.

  2. rrtucci Says:

    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain

  3. rrtucci Says:

    I meant “pobre” not “probre”

  4. Shehab Says:

    WOW! The title of the post is interesting. I think even in my native language, Bangla, someone would have written exactly like this: Blogu Pichu!

  5. Vladimir V. Ufimtsev Says:

    Hi Scott! Great to hear you are enjoying better places…anyway…do you have any comments on this:

    Title: “An elementary quantum network of single atoms in optical cavities”

    * Stephan Ritter,1
    * Christian Nölleke,1
    * Carolin Hahn,1
    * Andreas Reiserer,1
    * Andreas Neuzner,1
    * Manuel Uphoff,1
    * Martin Mücke,1
    * Eden Figueroa,1
    * Joerg Bochmann1, 2
    * & Gerhard Rempe1

    Journal name:
    Date published:
    (12 April 2012)

    ABSTRACT: “Quantum networks are distributed quantum many-body systems with tailored topology and controlled information exchange. They are the backbone of distributed quantum computing architectures and quantum communication. Here we present a prototype of such a quantum network based on single atoms embedded in optical cavities. We show that atom–cavity systems form universal nodes capable of sending, receiving, storing and releasing photonic quantum information. Quantum connectivity between nodes is achieved in the conceptually most fundamental way—by the coherent exchange of a single photon. We demonstrate the faithful transfer of an atomic quantum state and the creation of entanglement between two identical nodes in separate laboratories. The non-local state that is created is manipulated by local quantum bit (qubit) rotation. This efficient cavity-based approach to quantum networking is particularly promising because it offers a clear perspective for scalability, thus paving the way towards large-scale quantum networks and their applications. ”

    Seems like they did something useful?

  6. Mike Says:

    Debe ser fácil de hacer amigos porque Scott es una persona responsable.

  7. rrtucci Says:

    Si Mike. Scott es de los pocos que me soportan.

  8. Mike Says:

    El señor Tucci, mientras que no siempre están de acuerdo con usted en bases cuántica, estoy de acuerdo con usted acerca de Scott.

  9. rrtucci Says:

    Scott va a enseñar su próximo curso en MIT en Español. Me dicen que en Pennsylvania, de donde el viene, todos hablan Español y enseñan teoría de complejidad desde kindergarten.

  10. Mike Says:

    Muy interesante. Yo no sabía que. 😉

  11. Dimitris Says:

    Scott, your LATIN talk today on quantum computation for the Alan Turing year was extremely good! I think we all enjoyed it!

  12. John Sidles Says:

    The latest issue of PNAS contains an article by Butzer and Endfield titled Critical Perspectives on Historical Collapse … an analysis that provides thought-provoking perspectives on both the past collapse of civilizations like the Incas, and the present-day collapsing success for young STEM researchers.

  13. Henning Dekant Says:

    Isn’t Machu Picchu a world heritage site? And isn’t it also incredibly high up? Do you get a wireless signal there? And if so how do they hide the antenna as to not disturb the historic setting?

  14. asdf Says:

    I’ve had a copy of Neruda’s “Heights of Macchu Pichu” on my shelf for at least 5 years. It’s supposed to be fantastic and one day I’ll get around to trying to read it.

  15. Henning Dekant Says:

    @John Sidles, the Inca civilization didn’t get a chance to collapse but was wiped out by the Spanish invaders. Maybe you are thinking of the Maya culture?

  16. Boomshakalaka Says:

    Photos! Photos! photos! Please post a photo of you making some sort of gang sign with some of your body parts, spelling a complexity class … with the peaks of machu pichhu in the background! 😀

  17. anon Says:

    Hey Scott, have you seen this:

  18. Raoul Ohio Says:

    anon’s link in #15 leads to a very interesting essay claiming that the ACM has given an award to a paper (“The Complexity of Computing a Nash Equilibrium“, by Daskalakis, Goldberg, and Papadimitriou) that is blatantly ludicrous.

    The crux of the issue is that D,G+P appear to be deducing new laws of physics based on the axiom that if they can’t compute it, then nature can’t do it.

    It is not clear who the author is. The brief essay is a bit too long, going off the edge in the last couple sentences.

  19. Scott Says:

    anon #17 and Raoul #18: Given his confessed ignorance of the topic, the author of that essay might have been better off keeping silent—or at least rephrasing his anti-TCS rant in the form of a question! 🙂 In particular, he seems completely unfamiliar with the Extended (Polynomial-Time) Church-Turing Thesis, the falsifiable hypothesis about the physical world that’s the basis for the quoted remark of Daskalakis et al. that he so dislikes. (More than that, he seems unfamiliar with the entire concept of computational universality, making no attempt to grapple with it in the essay.)

    If the author thinks that he can overthrow the ECT (or its modern quantum-mechanical version), then let him take direct aim at that question! Until that happens, it seems reasonable to me to assume ECT as a working hypothesis when trying to gain insight into other issues, such as economic equilibrium.

    (Incidentally, the whole point of results like DGP’s is to enrich the bare economic model, where players are imagined to find equilibria instantaneously, by a better model that takes real-world computational constraints into account! So I find it deeply ironic that the author attacks algorithmic game theory’s use of mathematical modeling, but lets the original, even cruder mathematical modelling of non-algorithmic game theory pass without comment.)

  20. Jiav Says:

    I’d for myself prefer if Scott can explain what Ritter et al. did rather than commenting on a folk that obviously has no idea what he’s talking about.

  21. Jiav Says:

    argh.. just too late…

  22. Scott Says:

    Henning Dekant #13:

    Isn’t Machu Picchu a world heritage site? And isn’t it also incredibly high up? Do you get a wireless signal there?

    Yes, yes, and yes! (Though note that Machu Picchu isn’t nearly as high up as Cusco, Lake Titicaca, or many other sites in Peru. The one place where I had serious difficulty breathing and staying conscious was on the road from Arequipa to the Colca Canyon, which at one point is 3 miles or 5 kilometers above sea level. Probably lost a few million brain cells there…)

    And if so how do they hide the antenna as to not disturb the historic setting?

    I seem to remember that I saw the antenna, situated unobtrusively on one of the many mountains.

  23. Scott Says:

    Vladimir #5 and Jiav #20: The Ritter et al. paper looks cool! Beyond that, as with many experimental papers in QC, I don’t have anything terribly useful to say, so will refrain from mouthing off (see comment #19 🙂 ).

  24. Jiav Says:

    Funny said 🙂

    …but please allow me rephrasing: they mentionned that this is an implementation of Cirac et al. 1997. Surely this 15 years delay indicates they overcome some technical or conceptual difficulties. Then at least they must have found some interesting tricks, but I’m just unable to understand which ones. Don’t you have yourself some idea of what allowed them to make this breaktrough?

  25. Raoul Ohio Says:

    Following is a quote of the essay referred to in #17, quoting the paper of D,G+P. Following Scott’s comment in #19, I want to ask Scott two questions:

    1. Do you agree with this statement?

    2. Do you think you could sell it to anyone not in TCS?

    Here is the quote:

    “But there is a third important desideratum on equilibrium concepts, of a computational nature: An equilibrium concept should be efficiently computable if it is to be taken seriously as a prediction of what a group of agents will do. Because, if computing a particular kind of equilibrium is an intractable problem, of the kind that take lifetimes of the universe to solve on the world’s fastest computers, it is ludicrous to expect that it can be arrived at in real life.”

  26. Scott Says:


    1. Yes, I agree with the quoted statement—indeed, it strikes me as basically a tautology. Computing an equilibrium of a specified game is a well-defined mathematical problem—if you’re talking about something else that’s not a well-defined mathematical problem, then you’re simply talking about something different from what DGP were talking about and what I’m talking about. Now, if a market could solve that problem faster than the world’s fastest digital computers, then the market would itself constitute a computer that ought to be used in place of digital computers for that problem. But that, in turn, would presumably falsify the Extended Church-Turing Thesis! As I said before, if you want to launch a full-frontal attack against the ECT, go ahead (quantum computing has had some success with that, which is why I and many others got interested in it in the first place). But don’t pretend that you can get to the conclusion (or rather, anti-conclusion) you want without such an attack!

    2. Yes, I think I can explain these points to people outside TCS, as I guess I just did. And if some people continue to have trouble understanding them … well, there wouldn’t be much point to TCS if everything it found out was completely obvious to everyone, would there? 🙂

  27. Scott Says:

    Jiav #24: No, I don’t, but I’d be grateful if someone who did know saw fit to enlighten us!

  28. Henning Dekant Says:

    Jiav et al. far be it from me to claim to be an expert in the field, but I recently gave the following (rather impressive looking) habilitation text a cursory read, and it struck me how difficult it is to get single atom photon cavity interaction to work in practice. The work suggests that nano dipole interaction may be a better alternative:

  29. Henning Dekant Says:

    Scott, rather impressive that they wired Machu Picchu in an unobtrusive way. Last time I visited the Grand Canyon it was no signal as soon as you went down, and the reason given was that they didn’t want to disturb the protected natural setting. Then again apparently this has gotten better by now.

    BTW did you see this BBC article that quotes you at length, but managed to make it sound like Quantum Computing is really not all that important?

    Made me so angry I had to write a rebuttal. Not that anybody reads my crappy blog, but it helped with anger management:

  30. John Sidles Says:

    Henning Dekant Says: @John Sidles, the Inca civilization didn’t get a chance to collapse but was wiped out by the Spanish invaders. Maybe you are thinking of the Maya culture?

    Hmmmm … history records that the Spanish Conquistadors rather easily dominated the Inca, Aztec, and Maya cultures … for reasons that resist simple explanation.

    My personal interest in collapse/ecology issues awakened on an an isolated atoll (lat 8.756683, long 150.336727 to be precise), while reading internet reviews of Jared Diamond’s Collapse, on a computer powered wholly by sunlight & fabricated largely of silica and organic compounds,  … these being the sole physical resources of the atoll.

    It seemed to me that if this remote, resource-poor atoll could escape cultural collapse, then so might the rest of our planet … yet escaping this fate wouldn’t be easy (technologically, politically, economically, or culturally).

  31. Henning Dekant Says:

    @John Sidles, the Maya went through two collapses pre-classical and classical without any European interference. The Inca empire on the other hand was still peeking when the Spaniards invaded. Always thought Diamond’s take on this conquest in Guns, Germs, and Steel makes the most sense.

    Very much envy your reading spot.

  32. Philippe Says:

    Superb photography, Machu Picchu was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its peak

  33. Excursion Marrakech Says:

    indeed Machu Picchu is the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire