Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The necessary angle

There is an obvious joke, which I've never actually heard anyone make, re Schrodinger's cat, the measurement process, and "curiosity killing the cat." (This joke would be vaguely appealing because of the role reversal -- it's the scientist's curiosity that kills the cat -- and would fit very naturally in an elementary discussion of quantum mechanics.)

Tangentially, I wonder what it says about my intellectual seriousness that I sometimes get interested in a problem purely because I can think of an amusing title for a talk about it. I started working on (what I thought were) macroscopic tunneling phenomena in superconducting whiskers because I wanted to give a talk titled "Schrodinger's whiskers." (This has the additional advantage of providing a segue into trapped flux in SQUID-like rings, which of course one can call "quantum handcuffs." In the event, the program sort of petered out.) Recently I've been finding it hard to get interested in problems that would not lead to a talk titled "Fear and loathing in the electron gas."

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