As I contemplate a set of bubble sheets and a midterm coming up for my class, I have to think that all those multiple choice tests that I took in my life ended producing a valuable skill. They taught me how to take the tests so that when I design them I can solve them and fix the errors that crop up. I can now make them with great confidence. After all that training, I am a professional.

## Archive for February, 2010

## Multiple choice test taking: a professional skill

Posted in Academia, humor, puzzle on February 23, 2010 | 20 Comments »

## How was this number chosen?

Posted in number theory, puzzle on February 12, 2010 | 38 Comments »

Today’s puzzle is really simple. It is a single number, and don’t worry about the formating: it is not essential.

Your job, if you decide to take it, is to figure out how this number was chosen.

3983166922118810678205990336564718434224120605664143701183608

7681419052507877828777197836786790614849623650815370930359235

0129704516432578314074470098769495753238915840085811644293357

6455898753759925348456032608650278150327110180834816760596303

09728652360528042842943610644525298135991037793081877485511245

2474332249873412259136132368731917415053983296042291396691439150

43327960030646869030670768248956738775708735485960504256334453

736488021205358726905569574806264667486581193984051009097136483

506525271749484080035733863870881763567000457650973784539927240

2043442156827044195038802613229625783142492845706197046207004041

55134209534719408986385965928333597344225594042950352896

## The size of a donut hole

Posted in computers, quantum fields, Quantum Gravity on February 5, 2010 | 25 Comments »

At some point I promised that I was going to write about my most recent paper. So here is my promotion. In a sense, that paper is an exercise to understand what does it mean to have quantum gravity in a setup of emergent geometry: this is a situation where geometry is not there a priori, but it is extracted from some collective behavior of a system. I don’t want to go into semantics of what emergence means. For our purposes it is something that is extracted from a non-trivial procedure in systems with a lot of degrees of freedom, where we extract stuff that involves all degrees of freedom simultaneously in a non-trivial way. The system is quantum mechanical, and therefore there are quantum fluctuations and whatnot, and the whole purpose of our study is to measure some property that can be associated with a distance, but taking into account that the measurement will give you some type of probability distribution on some variable that is supposed to be geometric. Instead of getting something where this is all done analytically, we did it by computer simulations and ran it like an experiment. To top it off, the research was done with an undergraduate student, who ran the simulations and did some of the basic data analysis of the numbers we got.