Stephen Jordan (Caltech), a friend and collaborator, gave a group meeting to our group about his recent model of quantum computation using Fermions. The model uses a tree-representation to describe Fermionic Young’s diagrams. The details are left to his upcoming papers on quant-ph/.  This model is quite appealing as we quantum chemists think about Fermion symmetry for molecular wave functions in the configuration interaction-type methods. His diagrams look something like:

Stephen Jordan Fermion quantum computation

After his talk, we began trying to find more organic ways of representing these trees and came up with the following representation:

Stephen Jordan and Alan Aspuru-Guzik

A discusion of our work on quantum coherence has appeared in Shtetl Optimized, Scott Aaronson’s blog. It was a lot of fun to present it at the last quantum information workshop organized by John Preskill. It was great to be able to share our results and also to provide an overview of the area of quantum computing and chemistry. In any case, I have to revive my own blog, that is a quite slow site. The action is mostly happening off it, every day in the lab with the great team of people that I get to “play in the blackboard” everyday with.

At the Sanibel conference, inspired  by the great quantum chemists, I used a 1981 song from Kraftwerk, their Youtube video, and the Kino Linux software package to create the following “Ode to quantum chemistry”. I have to think about the “Ode to quantum computing”. It will hopefully follow. On other updates, the lab, the research, and life is going very well. I am a happy man. Ok, with you, “It is fun to compute –Remix” by Kraftwerk/Alan

This probably was the first time in history that a tacos al pastor grill from Colonia Portales made it to Harvard University’s Chemistry department. I post pictures of the event. This shows the improvements in the Tacos al pastor (Takeshis (C)) technology for the second iteration.

Kudos to Joel, Sigifredo, Rogelio, Sangwoo, Cesar, Anna and Roberto for their taquero-power.

I promised to post our adventure in the art of making Tacos al Pastor. Since I moved to the US, I always have missed the Mexican tacos al pastor experience. There are places where you can get them, but they’re not as good as a Mexico City taqueria. Since then, my friends and I have embarked on a Tacos al pastor cookout with an original trompo bought from Mexico City’s Colonia Portales–it’s probably the only one in Boston brought from Mexico City! The second taquiza (not shown) was actually performed at the Harvard Chemistry department as a part of our group open house.

Instructions: We assembled the trompo with a dedicated crew (Dori, Sigifredo, Joel, Sergio and Rogelio). Subsequently, we marinated the pork meat with achiote and orange juice. Afterwards, we roasted it on the trompo. We used cilantro, onion and lime to garnish! A gas tank and 10 pounds of meat later, ten people or so had a feast eating the tacos!

Ten pounds of love. The gallery below documents the event.



The book 2666 by Roberto Bolaño was reviewed in the New York Times. I was very touched by one of the parts of this book, the one about the violence in Ciudad Juarez, which was also described in the NYT review:

If the word “unflinching” didn’t exist I’d invent it to describe these nearly 300 pages, yet Bolaño never completely abandons those reserves of lyricism and irony that make the sequence as transporting as it is grueling. The nearest comparison may be to Haruki Murakami’s shattering fugue on Japanese military atrocities in Mongolia, which sounds the moral depths in “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.” Bolaño’s method, like Murakami’s, encapsulates and disgorges dream and fantasy, at no cost to the penetration of his realism.

It is interesting that he compares to Murakami, because I also got the same feeling from both books. A ghastly horrible feeling of unneeded violence. Dori and I saw War Dance a movie about a dance competition in Northern Uganda. After learning about the atrocities against the Acholi people by The Lord’s Resistance Army. This “army” fights for religious reasons and has been terrorizing these people for 20 years. What does the Ciudad Juarez of Bolaño, Manchuria as described by Murakami and Uganda as depicted in the War Dance documentary have in common? To me, the answer is the absurdity of violence for the sake of it.

I just found that my blog can have polls. To “reactivate it” a bit, I add one vis a vis the elections:

Also, stay tuned, we will post pictures of the Tacos al Pastor trompo assembly experiment that starts this Sunday.


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