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 April 2010

Farewell celebration Kees Harmans

has taken place today. Unfortunately I will not able to attend the dinner party promised to be ‘grand’. Yet the party at the University was quite significant and enjoyable (if accustom to Dutch catering). Chirstmas-like decoration of the room has been made of first pages of sci works of Kees, printed in various colors.

Kees was as usual: handsom, collected, sincere. There were two "official" speeches. Herre van der Zant, the department head, addressed all Kees’s career with a special stress on the course "mesoscopic physics" Kees has been giving many years thereby bringing up generations and generations of Quantum Transport students. Hans Mooij who has collaborated with Kees for twenty some years has told about his devotion to science and students and artistic skill to measure combatting and tricking noises. 

Guess everybody agrees that the most spectacular part of the party has been run by Raymond Schouten who demonstrated the "thermophone", a device that translated into sound noise the thermal noise in a resistor on the end of a long wire. Supervised by Raymond, Kees has demonstrated that noise intensity is propotional to the resistor temperature. He did so soaking the little one into cold beer, liquid nitrogen, and, finally, into liquid helium. That worked. Kees could not beat the teacher inside: he explained in detail the absolute temperature scale, the details and significance of the experiment. In the end of the part, he’s got a present: a functional pulse generator, indispensible tool for quantum manipulation.

Then Kees took the word. In his speech, he was mentioning phase and phases, interference and interaction, and applied these physical terms to human aspects of his long scientific carrier: promotion in Amsterdam, job in National Standard Instute, since 1987 nano(well, that time yet micro)structures in Delft, students (like van Wees and Kouwenhoven), quantum dots, hybrid structures, great sucsess of superconducting quantum bits, his main bisness of last ten years…

He mentioned the tragic death of his eldes son 13 years ago that hit and broke Kees at the rise of his scientific career.

Yet life goes on, Kees will remain active and gave us the list of his "life-after-TU-Delft" highlights: all sounded quite tempting. Also he won’t dissapear just like in a movie, we will see him in coming months.


My dean, my department head and me

have met today for an important bureaucratic rite: periodic evaluation of my job performance from all angles possible. This is a must for all employees of all Dutch universities. I wished my job performance was spherically-symmetric, that is, I’d look equally good from any angle. This is not so, and one of the working tasks of my supervisors is to find the least favourable angle. So for me such meetings are always like going to a dental check (with firm knowledge that there is something better not checked). I’m afraid I was emmiting the mood, and was making the discussion equally unpleasant for all three sides.

After all, it did not go as bad as I imagined. I received several useful (I mean, really usefull) advises and made several appoitments (wish all have been pleasant) but my severe incompetence, although partially revealed, has not yet lead to organizational consequences.

So I was able to sincerely thank the gentelmen in the end of the meeting.


Jeroen Oostinga

has been promoted to Ph.D. today. He is another student of Alberto Morpurgo who has left Delft for Geneve and brought some students with him. The previous promotion of this kind was that of Hangxing
(the blog of 2010-03-29), and guess what: Hangxing Xie was there in the role of a paranymph, one  of the two assisting the candidate during the defence.

He had to work, because the attack on the Ph.D. candidate has been pretty hard. All members of the commission have been persistent in the questioning. Serge Lemay has even formulated a question in a graphical form: a seemingly simple drawing to confuse the candidate (at least, it was confusing for me). I personally required computing a square root of a misspelled number and responsibility for a time reversal occured about four years ago. The promotor was interested to recieve a feedback on his (micro)managment activities.

Jeroen has withstood all with glory and honor. Main reason for this is of coourse his spectacular record in experimental physics of graphene: five fundamental effects measured and explained. 

Thanks for 256,000 views!

So I am happy to report another doubling of views. It took 61 day to achieve this. During this period, I have observed big slow fluctuations of visitor activity: factor-of-two variations in daily number of views. I could not find any relation of these variations to the content posted or other global events, I think I should not look for a rational explanation.

The blog remains my most sucsessful project of the past year. While  feedback is scarce, it is emotionally useful. The fact that so many are interested in my stories and research is very encouraging. 

Thank you very much, dear reader!


Strangled for my own safety

The modern or post-modern society pretends not to recognize the question of a sense of life, but does provide a very definite answer to that. The sense is: to live and die proudly in full compliance with safety regulations imposed by beloved authorities.

My mother has become 75 and I promised to accompany her to a correspondingly great trip. Coming Monday we would fly to Madrid. Well, nobody knows and nobody cares to say it openly but the trip seems  as good as cancelled. The skies are closed by overexcited administrators.

Come on, assheads. The sky is blue. The danger to air traffic is smaller than that from drinks and lighters aboard that you have been trying to forbid. You strangle European ecomony and intimidate hundreds of thousands of innocent citiziens just because your marginal salary does not depend on devastating consequencies of the "safety regulations" you impose. It is doubtful that you will give a thought to it before you find yourself in a queue for food coupons: yet it is where you head all us doing everything to endanger economy and prosperity of individuals.

I must be free to fly where I please.  

Kavli Colloquim Immanuel Bloch

has taken place today. Immanuel Bloch is a (relatively yong) professor in Munich doing very interesting and important experiments on trapping ultra-cold atoms in laser lattices. I must say that usually I feel a certain repulsion to this field/topics due to the reasons I would not discuss now. By no means this applies to Immanuel Bloch. He gave and interesting and brisk talk, very clear even in details, and made an effort to explain the physics involved. This is given the fact that he’s so much to say: he had to subdivide the talk into six "chapters", each being devoted to a distinct experimental situation. He’d no bombastic or excessively ambitious statements, and he did not have to since the quality and quantity of his research spoke for itself.

My task for today was to moderate a mini-symposium with local speakers, a kind of warming-up session for Immanuel Bloch. Katja Nowack, Jos Thijssen and Val Zwiller gave 10+5 minutes presentations. Since nobody at our Institue does ultra-cold atoms, the topics could not be  a perfect match. Howewer, the essence of  ultra-cold atoms is quantum statistics (Katja) many-body physics (Jos) enabled by optical tools (Val) so it all went coherent. 

To complete the pleasure, we’ve also got cake in the break and drinks afterwards.

Fairly tales of theoretical physics

will be the name of a new course given in spring semester 2011. Except the name, there are several unusual things about it.

First of all, this will be a collaboration of all members of our theory group. Everybody will entousiastically contribute 2-3 lectures. We are glad that we can do such things together and one of the goals of the course is to show that we theorists are present at this, well, mostly technical, University.

We are also grateful to a person who kind of made everything for us so we won’t overstress ouerselves while preparing to the lectures. David (Dima) Khmelnitskii, long-time faculty of Cambridge (REAL Cambridge, of course) is giving this course over there for quite a time. (see  "Fairy tales" is a very accurate description of the specific manner he’s chosen for presenting selected topics on mathematical physics. It’s been considered as a tough course among Cambridge (real Cambridge) students. Let’s see how does it go in Delft.

Two of us know Dima for a long time, that allowed him to appreciably contribute to our education (in that particular case, NOT in real Cambridge) as well in our understanding of the essence of theoretical physics.  We will be honoured to give his course.



is another round number of personal significance. That many years ago I married Elena who is still kind enough to remain my spouse.  In the beginning, our union was of pure civilian nature. Ten years ago we decided to involve Church into our personal relations. And we re-married in a course of a traditional rite, long and sacramental. It was a wonderful feeling of re-marring your own wife: I would not mind to do it again and again. 

Spin superconducting qubits

have been accepted for Physical Review B. Guess we could make it for PRL, but the article got a way too long. This will be a first journal publication of Ciprian Padurariu: felicitări, Ciprian. 

To make sure that a less attentive reader would not occasionally mix up our theoretical research with actual experimental realisation, the editors have changed the title to "Theoretical proposal for superconducting spin qubits". They must have had good marks in German at school.




So I’ve turned fifty. Silly, isn”t it? I feel unprepared. I’d need 20-30 years more to train for this day an meet it as I imagined it 20-30 years ago: with a feeling of significant accomplishment. Well, this I’ve not. Instead I regret I’ve wasted so much time. Thanks to all I met during the period: when I recall you, the regret gets away.


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