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Posted in 2010


Tokura-sensei was so kind as to drive me and Kubo-san to Hakone on Saturday, Nov. 13. Hakone (箱根 ) is a mountainous area west of Atsugi. Hakone checkpoint used to protect the only pass connecting Kyoto and Tokyo plain areas. Hakone houses many hot spring resorts, offers astonishing views of lakes and mountains, Fuji-yama included, and is a popular destination for domestic and foreign tourists.

So we hiked over mountain trails that were enhanced with bamboo trunks but did not get any easier. We smelled sulfur of volcanic vapour. We got into unearthy valley of Owakudani where smoke, hot water and heat come from the ground. We ate famous black eggs cooked in sulfur-reach naturally-boiling water. We took a cable car to get the views of Fuji and the lake Ani. We ate observing lavish pirate ships that cruised the lake. We took a good stroll along the lake shore.

It was a wonderful day, I am thankful for that.

O-yama and Shonan

This is a report of my activities in the weekend 6-7 november. I found myself in a semi-urban- semi-rural area of far Tokyo suburbs that spread tens of kilometers in any direction. The area is pleasantly exotic and convenient (you kind of cannot get lost in mountain taiga), so eventualy I opted for long walks.

My Saturday destination was O-yama, 大山, that is, “Big mountain”. Ten years ago I sucsessfully climbed it, and that was my intention for this time as well. However, I could not find the path I took ten years ago (they say it used to be female path to this holy mountain). I took the main path starting by the cable car station, male one, one who everybody takes. It was rather crowded. The path eventually consisted an ancient-looking stone stair that interrupted and changed directions randomly, following the slopes. After some time, I have reached lower shrine, at half-way climb, where everybody has been going. There was crowded, one can enjoy magnificient views of the valley below, or temples around. After resting a bit, I got a strange thought: perhaps, I do not have to get to the top at all. Perhaps, after tramping 17 kilometers of suburbs and hopping the stone stairs it won’t be such a joyful adventure. And I followed the thought. Getting wiser?

On Sunday I headed straight south. I seldom get to Pacific ocean and did not see it for ages. So it was 15 kilometer walk to Hiratsuka, to famous Shōnan (湘南 ) beaches. Several kilometers south to Atsugi I was able to get a glimpse of Fuji mountain, first time in my life. Hiratsuka appeared to be a nice and clean resort city, somehow resembling Schevingen. The beaches were good, also of Schevingen type. The difference was the sand color: volcanic activity in the area made it black. You guessed it correctly: it was rather crowded. People have been playing volleyball, fishing, some teenagers have been actively surfing ( ocean waves). Nobody swam, though the weather was fine and water did not feel too cold. So I also suppressed this natural desire (getting yet wiser?).

NTT Basic Research Laboratories

is where I am now. They are situated in Atsugi, Japan. I have arrived on Thursday afternoon so it is my second working day. I’m forging collaboration with Yasuhiro Tokura, head of Optical Science group, and his colleagues. We have many topics where we wish to interact: nuclear effects in quantum dots, long-range mesoscopic fluctuations in quantum dots, and general transport, you would not be surprised: in quantum dots as well.

The lab is an oasis of peace and order if compared to any university. People are concentrated on science. They are polite and considered. Every door is opened with a card, so you physically cannot go where you are not supposed to. Lunches are perfect, coffie is always available.

And I was happy to discover that Hans Mooij is here as well, perhaps attracted by peace and order. Delft is everywhere.

Quantum Noise

and Measurement in Engineered Electronic Systems: it’s a great topic of an upcoming workshop in Max-Planck-Institut fur Physik Komplexer Systeme, Dresden. Finally good news: the institute has recently confirmed the acceptance of our application. The organizers are Wolfgang Belzig, Michel Devoret and me.

The workshop will be held in October 2012, so we have ample time to organize everything.

Visit Yale

I’m just back from United States. From Monday thru Friday I was in New Haven visiting Yale university. The program included giving two talks, meeting faculty and postdocs of Department of Physics and Department of Applied Physics, collaborating with Leonid Glazman on our longstanding project in adiabatic dymanics of superconducting junctions.

This was a very interesting visit, I will write later about it.

Giant current fluctuations in an overheated single-electron transistor

, an article with Matti Laakso and Tero Heikkila, has been accepted to Physical Review B these days. Very productive collaboration, I hope I can do more with my Finnish colleagues.

Half-Josephson laser

finally shines in the dark! We (Frans Godschalk, Fabian Hassler and me) have submitted this article to cond-mat, please find it here.

This is first submission of Frans Godschalk: congratulations, Frans!

Northampton, MA

is where I am now. Before visitig Yale University I dropped here to my son who has recently began his studies at graduate school University of Massachusets, in Amherst. My trip here was tough. A leaking toilet has delayed my flight by two hours, resulting in six hours of overall delay. I arrived to New Haven at 11pm. Fortunately, the last cab driver at the airport was kind to ride me for 82 miles remained.

I was pleased to see my son in a reasonably good shape, doing his best to adjust to American style of life. He cannot drive yet, this makes the adaptation challenging. Yesteday we have gone to a closest supermarket: a sneaky path lead us through haunted properties, abandoned railroads, busy highways. It took less than an hour to reach our destination.

It is now the most beautiful season in the area: splendid foliage of all spectral colors, blue skies. Warm during day time, very cold at night.

No chance to devise a polaron,

modern society does not want it, my project about this has been finally rejected. It got an overall mark of 3,0 whlie the threshold this year stand at 2,4. Sad news, yet nothing to be done: competition is tough.

There is however a secret back-door opportunity. My former student Izak Snyman is now a faculty in South Africa. Perhaps they would be interested? We’ll see …

Lecture Fiztekh

This is to report on my visit to alma mater, Moscow Physical-Technical University, commonly called Fiztekh. During Cold-war era this establishment aimed to educating researchers for vast military needs of Soviet Union, with a wise thought that those needs may also include the fundamental research, and good general education would pay off sooner or later. They gave indeed good and challenging education. I liked this, as well as a certian spirit of arrogance, workaholism, freedom and comreadship being cultivated at the place. Honestly think those where best years of my life.

However, I haven’t been to there for ages and did not miss it. While Leonid Levitov has visited me, he told me of his attempt to give a lecture over there: that about graphene for first-year students. According to him, the attempt was hardly sucsessful and gave him lots of bizzare and painful sensations. This was probably the reason he advised me to give such lecture as well.

I was intrigued and ask my Russian connections to arrange the lecture. By nature of my occupation, it’s been called “Nanophysics: yesterday, today, tomorrow”. Actually, I was hoping that I would not go down to these “boring” things: given the diversity of the audience, the concrete facts about the subject would hardly be usefull for them. I’d love to answer the questions like “how to become a scientist?”, “what is a research?”, “how things are rolling in your life?”. I imagined that an ambitious research-oriented student could make use of information I am able to provide about this.

So I came to the place. What followed did not look like a traditional Russian misorganization: rather, it looked like an exaggerated parody on traditional Russian misorganization. When I came to the place, there was a lecture in math: it ended five minutes after the time my lecture was to commence. After that, there were three students left. There was no beamer or any other technical tools. The students were trying to cheer me up: “just begin, perhaps there will be more people coming…” Indeed, people have been coming all the time, the last one arrived in two hours. After all, there was more than a hundred students. In 15 minutes after the beginning of the lecture I was flattered with the following scene: the dean of the department has entered the audience and personally brought a beamer for me while his entourage delivered an extension cord (that has a single socket: either for beamer or laptop)… Anyway, I know such things happen and did not mind.

Upon my feelings, the lecture was a moderate success (perhaps because of Andre Geim who provided me an excellent introduction). I could not completely escape talking about carbon nanotubes and quantum dots. I could not really strike the audience with original thoughts and ideas, and instantly transform them into the beings I like them to be. Yet there were sharp questions (“what’s your salary?”, “what were most important drawbacks in your education?”) and open answers. We could talk about very difficult subjects like latent xenophobia of Russian society and moral responsibility of a scientist.

I was even to able to tell a short story that I guess tells everything about science and education, a story which is difficult to understand but did not seem to be completely lost. I got it from a book of Ukranian sci-fi authors Dyachenko


They are rather commercial authors, but this particular story is a masterpiece. This is what I told: “Listen to me: it may sound a silly joke for you now, but memorize it to ponder it later. This is a story of young girl who has begun her studies, and those were difficult. She was stressed for monthes for naught, and worked hard for nothing. Finally, after much sweat, the teacher told her that her performance, although still terribly unsatisfactory, has a little chance of improvement. Thus encouraged, the girl dared to ask a question: “I hardly understand the subject of my studies. How will I use the things learned?” The answer was: “Young lady, you should worry and care about many things, for instance, about your marginal performance, but not about this one. It’s not like you will use the things learned. It’s the things learned that will make use of you. “”

Long live science…

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