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Posted in March 2011

Sixth lecture Advanced StatisticalMechanics

has taken place on Thurdsday. It was a beautiful bright morning, typical for beginning of spring. At the time of the beginning, there was a single student in the audience. He did not feel easy, looked like he would gladly be otherplace. I waited a bit, and we got a company, then yet more, so like in fifteen minutes number of students was back to normal. The phemonenon is known, the student activitity always reaches a deep minimun at the last lecture before the semester break. Especially if the weather is nice.

Apart from this, the lecture was satisfactory. Or, to put it more carefully, I expected a worser one since I have decided to make it close to the book and Kardar uses the topic of ideal quantum gas mainly to brush algebraic skills of students. He derives a single implicit formula and obtains all physical cases by tedious limit calculations.

Given this, I think we still could enjoy some physics this bright morning

Sixth Lecture Quantum Transport

has taken place yesterday. We made a detour from Columb blockade back to scattering theory to combine it with superconductivity. We have discussed Andreev reflection, Josephson current and their relation with normal-nanostructure scattering.

I’d say that so far it has been the most satisfying lecture. I mean satisfying for me, it is for students to judge if it was satisfactory. I was on time, could pose control questions and gather satisfactory response. The topic by itself is rather fascinating but still easy

Next lecture only comes in three weeks, after the semester break.

Kavli Newsletter

has appeared in press today. This is an initiative of Cees Dekker and I think a nice one, at least the first issue is quite interesting. You can find it here.

Here is my column for the newsletter:

For a sufficiently deep physicist, time is
both relative and irrelevant. This is why
only recently I came to a new insight: neither Cees Dekker, nor me, nor Leo Kouwenhoven are just-started faculties. Even
Herre van der Zant has accomplished
his studies a while ago. The marvelous
and heretic scientific developments that
energized our early careers became a
commonplace. They have formed well-established fields, that have already
traditions, rituals, known pathways and
no-trespassing signs that indicate the subfields. They wrote about our research:
“New times ahead”. Now they’d write:
“New times long past”. Fortunately, we
have enough influence to prevent this.

The immediate reason for the new insight were new appointments made in
2010. Finally, new faces! Really new:
for a change, they are not our students
and postdocs and KNAW/NWO fellows (well, almost). From bio side, there
are Bertus Beaumont, Christtophe Danelon, David Grunwald (Sorry Sander, for
me your face doesn’t count new). From
quantum side, those are Leo DiCarlo,
Gary Steele, Sander Otte. This is a real
change of guard, the whole new generation to shape the future of our Kavli
Institute. Frankly and strictly personally,
I’d love to see you more frequently:
some I’ve seen only once. Yet this does
not count, I understand how busy you
are setting up your environment. What
does count is the long-awaited novelty
you bring, and the hope that your active research will make your novel fields
outdated as fast as ours did.

Since I was a starting faculty only yesterday, would you mind a piece of advice
(sure you need one).
a. In the course of my first year, I got a
new surprise every day. Once that
was a pleasant one.
b. Shortly after I started, they announced
budget and job cuts. (Does this sound
a history? Then it repeats itself). The
natural and just law: “last in, first
out” was not applied to me only because somebody said: “over my dead
body”. Always have somebody (disposable) around.
c. If confronted with a (scientific) no-trespassing sign, just go ahead. Yes, they
will shoot. Yet your little sacrifice will
advance science as whole.
d. If not satisfied with your working
conditions (no separate room, no
promotion rights, closed toilets, etc.),
fight for those and unite for fight. Annoy your colleague to make her/him
equally unsatisfied. Friends are nice,
allies are important.
Welcome from the deep of my heart!

Recontres de Moriond

is a name of a conference in quantum mesoscopic physics that is held once in two-three years. The conference is distinguished in its broad scope, quality and quantity of talks, as well as location. It is held in La Thuile, at italian side of Mont Blanc. There are skiing facilities, yet I do not ski and can honestly say that my time is devoted to science (and stolen from equation since it is the semester time. However, I could not miss this conference.)

There are piles of white snow that I missed not having it enough this winter. My talk will start in about an hour. I will tell about the work with Dima Pikulin, Topological properties of superconducting junctions.

Student reaction on Advanced Statistical Mechanics

Today I got an “official” student’s feedback on my course Advanced Statistical Mechanics. It’s prepared by by response group of our student’s society VvTP.

There are three points:

  • Students are positive about the lectures and like the books (good..)
  • They like to make presentations and especially the feedback they get (very good, Alina!)
  • They find the exercises of much higher level than the lectures (oops…) and would love easier homework(ok…)

Have to think hard about the last point, never thought about it in such a way. A solution is perhaps to make the lectures twice more difficult and give no homework… How would you like it?

Fifth lectrure advanced statistical mechanics

has taken place today. Well, there could be more students. I have been preparing to the topic that introduces perturbation theory in the context of non-ideal gas for quite a while. This is why I’m dissatisfied with the result: I would not if less time was spent.

I have changed the system of slide preparation which is now Latex-based. I’ve shown to students some simulation programs from Open Source Physics: they seemed interested.Will try to make homework based on these programs.

Fifth lectrure quantum transport

is traditionally devoted to Coulomb blockade, and marks an important change in the course, that from scattering to interacting electrons. My assesment of the lecture is rather positive, I was able to tell everything I wanted. I could speak more coherently, and give less details in one place and more in another.

The interaction with Sankore 3.1 is still not ideal. I have discovered a problem with pdf font conversion yesterday in the evening and could not solve it with usual methods, so I went to bed at 1:30 am only. I ended making images of each pdf page, arranging the images to a pdf again and using Sankore 3.1 on the result. It worked, but the image resolution is rather low, it looks ugly upon zooming.

Phase slip devices accepted

On the last day of the year past, Alina has heroically submitted a long article about charge-sensitive phase-slip devices. We got soon the referee reports that contain many remarks, suggestions and requests. This is hardly surprising given the fact that we were really in a hurry to submit the article. To give a detail, we have omitted the author’s list: not for the sake of brevity, neither from extensive modesty, just so happened that our attention has been adsorbed by more important details…

So we had to work hard and long to implement all the remarks. Alina has submitted the revised version only yesterday evening. Today in the morning she got the acceptance note. That you cannot read in fairy tales, since fairy tales are meant to be trustworthy. Very special decision speed. This, of course, stresses the urgency and importance of our article.

On a more serios note, we have taken the referee remarks very seriously. We have added a two-page appendix that summarizes advances in the field of phase slips from stone age up to know. Let me advertize this: I think it will be usefull for everybody. Please find it here in the version number 3 that will be available soon.

Topological properties of superconducting junctions

is a new cond-mat submission I’ve done with Dima Pikulin. He is a PhD student of Carlo Beenakker. We have a project that involves Mayorana states in superconductors, very fashionable and noisy topic nowadays. This is our attempt to reduce this noise, and to find the link between some recent results and well-known ones

Please read it here.

Forgiveness Sunday 2011

is today. This starts Great Lent for Orthodox christians.
Our clery changed clothes during the service and they remain in black-silver for seven weeks coming. Clery and parochians use today’s occasion to ask each other of mercy to forgive their wrongdoings. There is a special Rite for this, traditionally involving a deep bow. Both souls and spines have to work today.

We have heard the Efraim Sirin’s prayer that will help us
for each day of the Lent:

  • O Lord and Master of my life,
    the spirit of emptiness, despair, domination or idle talk
    do not let me have it.
  • But give rather a spirit of purity, humility, patience and love, give me to Thy servant.
  • Yea, O Lord and King,
    grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother,
    for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.
  • O God, cleanse me a sinner,
    (12 times, with a bow made for each).

And,om this occasion, dear reader, I ask you to forgive me any offences and wrongdoings I may have done to you: either in course of direct communication or by writting. Wish me a good Lent.

© 2011 TU Delft