Kung Physics
A Physics Walkabout

In this page I hope to put more information on my postdoc travels. (For more information on me, go to tahan.com/charlie.) It would also be nice to be able to put some (extremely limited) advice in writing for potential future physicists, as well as some fun stuff. For now, I hope you'll settle for some pictures and brief comments.

About my job. I'm doing an unusual postdoc. I have a NSF fellowship (Fall 2005 - Fall 2007) to do research in theoretical physics around the world, specifically at the University of Cambridge, University of Melbourne, and University of Tokyo. I'm presently writing a short series of articles based on my experiences for the jobs section of Nature. I will post the articles here as they become available:

  1. A Physics Walkabout (PDF here). Background information and what four months doing research in Australia was like.
  2. coming soon?... Article on Japan (Go to the Tokyo page.)
  3. coming soon?... Article on the UK

Where does "Kung Physics" come from? When I was growing up, there was a corny TV show called Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, the sequel to the classic seventies series Kung Fu. Both star David Carradine, aka Caine, who "walks the earth" doing good. His tagline was: "I am Caine. I will help you". Hence the running joke: "I am Charlie. I will help you (do good physics.)" What's life without corny jokes?

Acknowledgements. Doing something crazy like what I'm doing can only happen with the support and accomodation of wonderful people. I would sincerely like to thank all those people who have helped me along the way: my parents (it would be impossible to be so detached from the world without a base somewhere and people looking out for you); my hosts: Peter Littlewood, Lloyd Hollenberg, Seigo Tarucha, who have been unbelievably accomodating of my changing schedules and many distractions; all the secretaries around the world who have helped me so much with visas, housing, etc - Tracey, Yasuko, and Sayoko; and my past advisors and colleagues including especially Bob Joynt and Mark Friesen.

Last Update: June 5, 2006

University of Melbourne, AU: November 2005 - February 2006

Professor Lloyd Hollenberg at the University of Melbourne and the Centre for Quantum Computer Technology in Melbourne was kind enough to host me in his group for four months in the summer months (for the southern hemisphere) of 2005-2006. Prof. Hollenberg runs the device modeling effort and has a big theory group in quantum computing and information physics.

Melbourne, Australia has the feel of San Francisco (or as I imagine it)...sunny, trams, hills. It's cooler than Sydney - in Australia it's known as the cold, rainy city. But Australians are spoiled, it never freezes in Melbourne. The University of Melbourne is located just north of the city center, near little italy. A short tram ride down the hill and you're in the heart of the city, china town, and everything else a safe city of 3 million plus can offer.

Hollenberg's group is part of the very large effort in Australia to build a quantum computer in silicon, using the spins of Phosphorous donors as the qubits (an evolution of the so-called Kane quantum computer). He is also part of effort at the University of Melbourne to build a single photon source from a single color centre (such as NV- or Nickel) in single crystal diamond. In addition to these experimental collaborations, theorists in his group consider more general problems in quantum information theory including quantum control, quantum optics, quantum games, and quantum error correction in quantum algorithms.

Some facts about Australia that couldn't fit in my article:

  • Australia is a great place to do physics! The professors, scientists, and graduate students I worked with were all excellent. The educational system is somewhat different from that of the USA (for example, the PhD schedule is shorter and includes no graduate classes and undergrad is more focused on your chosen field). I think in general this can make for more catching up to do during postdocs for the average student, but - as in most cases - the best students in the best groups rise to the top and learn what they need to and more as they go. Collaborations and visits abroad accelerate this process. This part of my article got embarrassingly skewed during revisions I'm afraid.
  • Lemonade in Australia is Sprite/7-UP, don't ask me why. They call lemonade "lemonada" or something.
  • The Australians have a weird obsession with shredded ham on their pizza, they love it. I don't get it.

The entrance to the Physics department. The department has a nice spot near the (quite nice) Uni gym and the student center.

The view walking out of the entrance pictured directly above. A few blocks straight ahead is the italian area, a common place for lunch.

The top of Swanston Street, the main street that takes you from the city center (say the Melbourne Central metro stop) to the University. The last stop at the top of the hill is the Physics Building. You can see the tram heading to the city here.

More trams at the corner of Swanston and the Physics Building.

Most of Lloyd's group at a meeting.

Group meetings over beer, nothing better.

Life is good.

Dinner in little italy.

Going away dinner for me.

Visit to Brisbane. Take this path along the river to the University of Queensland.

The opposite way, toward the downtown of Brisbane.

A little further down.

In Brisbane, you could take a water taxi to work every day from the suburbs on the other side of the city to the University in less than half an hour. A very livable city.

The view from my apartment (570 Swanstan Street, Carlton, Victoria, for posterity).

Another view from my balcony. You can make out the University of Melbourne logo on the building across the street. Oddly enough, the park in between is called Lincoln park. Huh?

The Lebanese Maronite (Catholic) church of Melbourne. My cousins in Australian are on the Lebanese side of the family.

My cousins store in the suburbs.

An afternoon of tennis in the neighborhood tennis court with my cousin.

Australia is a very livable country, with tons of community bike paths and facilities. They know how to live.

Yes, those are kangaroos on the golf course. They weren't impressed with my swing and took off.

The beach at Noosa. A quantum nanoscience conference was held in this northern resort town (an hour outside of Brisbane) during my stay, I went.

Noosa Blue, the conference hotel in the foreground, with the Noosa waterways in the background.

Far view of the Noosa beach seen up close above.

Kayaking in Sydney. I spent Christmas and New Years in Sydney. Like I said, the Aussies know how to live.


coming soon... University of Tokyo, Japan: July 10 - September 10


coming soon... Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge: Permanent home, Sept. 2005 - present
  • Peter Littlewood is my advisor and host in the Theory of Condensed Matter group.


Where next?


More links
Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University
Cambridge Centre for Quantum Computation
Centre for Quantum Computer Technology
Physics at the University of Melbourne
Tarucha lab at the University of Tokyo
Web www.tahan.com
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