De meningen ge-uit door medewerkers en studenten van de TU Delft en de commentaren die zijn gegeven reflecteren niet perse de mening(en) van de TU Delft. De TU Delft is dan ook niet verantwoordelijk voor de inhoud van hetgeen op de TU Delft weblogs zichtbaar is. Wel vindt de TU Delft het belangrijk - en ook waarde toevoegend - dat medewerkers en studenten op deze, door de TU Delft gefaciliteerde, omgeving hun mening kunnen geven.

Posted in February 2010

ERC Advanced grant application

is finally submitted. Many have helped me with advice, encouragement, proof-reading and filling in the tables: I wish to thank them all. Probability theory tells that a chance that the application is granted is thin. Yet I hope for this: long live Unified Theory of Quantum Transport!

This does not set me free though: there is another application deadline approaching. In the framework of NWO-nano initiative I’d like to ask fonds to investigate polaronic properties of carbon nanotubes and their potential device application: I see there very interesting and various physics ranging from quantum entaglement to the dynamics of bucket handle. Still not sure I will actually apply: the research would be purely theoretical, so its appreciation is questionable.


Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

or, Meeting the Lord, is a feast I am too late to write about. It was last Monday, and, owing to Lent, has been shifted to Sunday. Anyway, I do it now since I’ve found a poem of Joseph Brodsky in English. Here it is:

Nunc Dimittis’

When Mary first came to present the Christ Child

to God in His temple, she found—of those few
who fasted and prayed there, departing not from it—
devout Simeon and the prophetess Anna.
The holy man took the Babe up in his arms.
The three of them, lost in the grayness of dawn,
now stood like a small shifting frame that surrounded
the Child in the palpable dark of the temple.
The temple enclosed them in forests of stone.
Its lofty vaults stooped as though trying to cloak
the prophetess Anna, and Simeon, and Mary—
to hide them from men and to hide them from Heaven.
And only a chance ray of light struck the hair
of that sleeping Infant, who stirred but as yet
was conscious of nothing and blew drowsy bubbles;
old Simeon’s arms held him like a stout cradle.
It had been revealed to this upright old man
that he would not die until his eyes had seen
the Son of the Lord. And it thus came to pass. And
he said: ‘Now, O Lord, lettest thou thy poor servant,
according to thy holy word, leave in peace,
for mine eyes have witnessed thine offspring: he is
thy continuation and also the source of
thy Light for idolatrous tribes, and the glory
of Israel as well.’ The old Simeon paused.
The silence, regaining the temple’s clear space
oozed from all its corners and almost engulfed them,
and only his echoing words grazed the rafters,
to spin for a moment, with faint rustling sounds,
high over their heads in the tall temple’s vaults,
akin to a bird that can soar, yet that cannot
return to the earth, even if it should want to.
A strangeness engulfed them. The silence now seemed
as strange as the words of old Simeon’s speech.
And Mary, confused and bewildered, said nothing—
so strange had his words been. He added, while turning
directly to Mary: ‘Behold, in this Child,
now close to thy breast, is concealed the great fall
of many, the great elevation of others,
a subject of strife and a source of dissension,
and that very steel which will torture his flesh
shall pierce through thine own soul as well. And that wound
will show to thee, Mary, as in a new vision
what lies hidden, deep in the hearts of all people.’
He ended and moved toward the temple’s great door.
Old Anna, bent down with the weight of her years,
and Mary, now stooping gazed after him, silent.
He moved and grew smaller, in size and in meaning,
to these two frail women who stood in the gloom.
As though driven on by the force of their looks,
he strode through the cold empty space of the temple
and moved toward the whitening blur of the doorway.
The stride of his old legs was steady and firm.
When Anna’s voice sounded behind him, he slowed
his step for a moment. But she was not calling
to him; she had started to bless God and praise Him.
The door came still closer. The wind stirred his robe
and fanned at his forehead; the roar of the street,
exploding in life by the door of the temple,
beat stubbornly into old Simeon’s hearing.
He went forth to die. It was not the loud din
of streets that he faced when he flung the door wide,
but rather the deaf-and-dumb fields of death’s kingdom.
He strode through a space that was no longer solid.
The rustle of time ebbed away in his ears.
And Simeon’s soul held the form of the Child—
its feathery crown now enveloped in glory—
aloft, like a torch, pressing back the black shadows,
to light up the path that leads into death’s realm,
where never before until this present hour
had any man managed to lighten his pathway.
The old man’s torch glowed and the pathway grew wider.

This translation of G.L. Kline skifully reproduces the musics of Russian tetrameter which probably renders it unreadable. In Russian, it’s really a jewel: you feel like reading the Bible, and, for a change, understanding it. Brodsky was a great Russian poet, a fine American essayist, and, as far as I know, was rather far from Chirstian faith. God lives where He pleases…




Paper’s too good?

I have to do good, especially in Lent period. Nine days ago I have tried to do good by helping a publication of a manuscript that, in my opinion, is exceptionally good but does not seem to receive a proper consideration in Physical Review Letters. I wrote a letter to editors. Till now, I’ve received no response. So it looks like this attempt to do good failed as many others. In a weak hope that a bit of publicity still might do some good, I publish the letter here (scrapping small sensitive details).


Dear dr Mitra, prof Castro Neto,


I have learned from the authors of  arXiv:0906.4076 that this submission has finally received a negative publication advice. In my opinion, this advice can only result from an unfortunate misunderstanding. Thereby I appeal to you to reconsider the decision. I do not make this appeal for the sake of the authors: they can take care of themselves. I make it because I fill attached to PRL having published my major contributions there. I want the journal to accept  the manuscripts that report true advances in theoretical physics. I do not want to hear the rumors that the current evaluation procedures and referee’s attitudes make the acceptance of original manuscripts very unlikely, instead favoring secondary research and aberrative speculations.


While the manuscript submitted is not free from presentational drawbacks, nor from the statements reflecting personal tastes of the authors,  it reports  the biggest advance in bosonization since seventies of last century. It restores scientific truth distorted by several recent publications of very questionable quality, those by chance have received a positive publication advice.


If you think that a detailed and balanced referee report will help you to make a correct decision, I would be willing to provide one. 


Thanks for 128,000 views!

It is my pleasure to report another doubling of number of views. It took 45 days to achieve this, while my bet was 90 days. Thank you very much for your attention, this is very encouraging.

If I extrapolate (see, I understand that I reach 10^11 views in 3 years, so every inhabitant of the planet will read each of my posts at least once. 

Gary Steele

gave a talk today for Quantum Nanoscience stuff. Gary is presently a post-doc with Leo Kouwenhoven. However, this may change soon, and I wish Gary best luck with this.

Gary has been looking for best ways to make cute nanotube devices, and was lucky to find those. In particular, he has made tunable p-n and p-n-p  nanotube junctions and a mechanical resonator of unbelievable quality factor. That inspired him greatly. The number of new ideas in his talk has exceeded the number of slides by a factor and could keep busy the whole Kavli Institute for ten years. Good program, in short.

I met Gary later on the day when we with a group of people were trying to discuss some nanoelectromechanical things. 

Disentangling the effects

 of spin-orbit and hyperfine interactions on spin blockade is another long title. This is an experimental work where Jeroen Danon and me have been involved. It analyses spin blockade in double quantum dots made in a semiconducting nanowire. This is the first submission of Stevan Nadj-Perge. For quite a time, he entertained us with colorful pictures showing current throught the dots versus magnetic field and detuning. He has seen distinct and unusual patterns in these pictures that he named "aircraft", "Mickey Mouse", "deep peak", etc.  We have finally sorted out the interplay of competing factors producing the patterns, that is, "disentagled" these factors.

I am not very happy with the title since that may sound as a challenge to quantum information community: they want to entangle things rather than disentangle them. Yet the only alternative was "Measurements…" and that sounded dull.

The paper is available on cond-mat,



Forgiveness Sunday

is today. It is a last day before Great Lent. Since Lent implies repentance, and repentance should begin with forgiveness, Orthodox Christians use this day to ask each other of mercy to forgive their wrongdoings. There is a special Rite for this, and our priests line up to ask forgiveness and to give it. Since each individual action of that traditionally involves at least a single very deep bow, I always wonder how do they manage to do this for couple of hundreds parochians and what would happen if we had couple of thousand. Naturally enough, parochians follow the example and do the rit to each other, so both my soul and spine had to work today.

May I use this occasion, dear reader, to ask you to forgive me any offences and wrongdoings I may have done to you: either in course of off-line communications, or by writing this blog. If you show this mercy, you may wish me a good Lent.

Leo DiCarlo

gave a talk today for Quantum NanoScience stuff (although there were students present in the audience). Leo is a true quantum engineer, one of the few on this planet. Actually, the best one I ever met. I like both the physical realization of his quantum processor (josephson-based superconducting electronics, live-long field of Hans Mooij) and his no-nosense approach to this field. He’s a goal and finds means. His interest to quantum feedback brings very intruiging physical questions that overlap very well with my own research agenda.

Presently, Leo is a post-doc in Yale, with Rob Schoelkopf. He’s American look and feel. Very occasionaly, an extra-energetic gesture witnesses his Italian heritage. 

I liked the speaker, the topic and the contens. The only thing I’ve got mixing feelings about was the road at his slides: he showed it to denomostate that he knows how to reach the goal. The road looked vaguely familiar. It could lead to an isolated dusty gas station. To a drive-in cinema or a luna-park. To a suburb residenial area with littered sidewalks and skyscapers at the horizon. I am so happy in Delft!

Exam quantum transport

has been held on 27-01-2010. I am still having schedule problems (have not finished ERC application yet). So I’ve finished checking the results today at 1 a.m.

The results are stable: let me put it like this. I am satisfied with average level, it is better than in years past. The reasons were: the book published, enthousiastic problem-solving session of Ciprian, better contact with the audience during the lectures. From the other hand, I expected more: perhaps just because I’m too romantic. In fact, the spread of the results was smaller than in years past. There was nobody with absolute or close to absolute score in multiple choice questions. 

Do not mean I am not satisfied with an effort the students put into it: I am. There were several small factors that could affect the performance: i. Updated transparency sets differed much from unupdated ones, ii. there was a small discrepancy between the examination problem and corresponding material of homework that could confuse, iii. the examination problem required unnecessary algebra.


Ted Chiang

 is an American sci-fi author who writes really very little but is famous in circles since he harvests a noticeable fraction of prestigious sci-fi awards. I read most his stories, they seemed well-crafted and entertainingly bizzar but I could not say they had touched me.  

Recently I have read his "Exhalation" and this get to my soul. It is a story where there is no word about God and faith while everything speaks of God and faith. I recommend it to everybody who is interested in the relation between science and religion, and …

No, you’d better read it yourself. By kind permission of the author, you can find the story at

and it IS short.


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