Blog Archives: August, 2006
More pictures from Ottawa when I get back home.
I had a good run going on with a new post everyday, but that’s over now. My life is not as interesting as it was last week. Well, to be fair, I’m still in Ottawa having a good time. Yesterday we went to the Museum of Civilization and the new Canadian War Museum. I enjoyed seeing the Petra exhibit, and think it would be great to visit the site of Petra in Jordan some day, although not at the moment.
Scott (pictured at left) and I are in Ottawa visiting our friend Adam. Today we visited the Royal Canadian Mint and the National Gallery of Canada. After our tour of the Royal Canadian Mint, we stopped in the gift shop where you can hold a solid gold bar. At 28 pounds and nearly $300,000 Canadian, it’s the most money I think I’ve ever held in my hands. At the National Gallery, we saw a great exhibit on the work of Emily Carr. We also saw a set of nifty photographs called Portraits of a Victorian Dandy which were amusing, and a video (which I can’t find online at the moment) about pumping up empty water bottles using a bicycle tire pump and having them explode up in the air. What more can you want from an art gallery?
While on campus here at the University of Calgary, I visited the Calgary Olympic Oval, where the speedskating races were held during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. It’s still an amazing sporting facility and, as you can see by the picture taken earlier this morning, still heavily used. It’s apparently the “fastest ice in the world”, meaning that more current world records have been set on it than any other track. Teams from all over the world come here to train. Given our nation’s continued success in speedskating competitions, I think this facility is one of the most important legacies from the Calgary games.
Some readers of this blog may be aware of the Internet phenomenon of Chuck Norris Facts, which are various statements alleging the superhuman powers of Chuck Norris. For example: “There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live.” As with all bad Internet fads, this one has been copied and parodied many times. One that I find particularly amusing is the Bruce Schneier Facts. Bruce Schneier is a cryptographer who writes a very popular blog on security. So here’s some cryptography humour for you, with explanations for the non-cryptographers in the audience:
- Bruce Schneier is computationally infeasible. (We generally want cryptography problems to be computationally infeasible, meaning that it is extremely difficulty (infeasible) to compute a solution.)
- Bruce Schneier once factored a prime number. (A major problem in cryptography is being able to factor numbers. Prime numbers can’t be factored: their only divisors are 1 and themselves.)
- In a fight between Ron Rivest and Adi Shamir, the winner would be Bruce Schneier. (Rivest and Shamir are two of the three inventors of the widely-used RSA cryptographic algorithm.)
Although I think every post I write is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, I recognize that some entries are more notable than others. And a continuing fan favourite is the store layout grocery list from a couple years ago.
I’m happy to report that there are people stranger than me. In fact, there’s a whole website devoted to collecting grocery lists. There are over 1200 lists from people from all over the world, both their own lists and lists they find. I’ve browsed a couple hundred and have yet to find another list laid out according to the layout of the store. I guess I’m still special.
I’m in Calgary attending the third annual Canadian Quantum Information Students’ Conference, which is an annual conference where all of the grad students in Canada that work on quantum computing get together for their own conference without any supervisors along. I gave my talk yesterday on Uncloneable Quantum Money, a research project I am working on with my supervisor; no paper yet, but we’re getting there.
I arrived in Calgary on Friday and spent the weekend at Waterton Lakes National Park, which is on the border with Glacier National Park in Montana. On Saturday, Lana and I went on an 18km hike to Crypt Lake; the hike is described as one of the most scenic hikes in Canada, and we certainly had some good views. To get to the hike, we had to take a boat ride across a lake near the townsite in the park; since everyone on the boat arrived at the trailhead at the same time, there were quite a few people along the hike, but that made us less likely to be eaten by bears. The hike actually took us right to the border of Montana and Alberta, with about the southern-most five feet of the lake (and the corresponding shoreline) being in Montana. Along the way, we managed to escape being attacked by kung-fu squirrels.
On Sunday we did a shorter hike in the park. We were the only people on the trail, though we think the area had a bunch of bears in it. We found a few piles of bear droppings on the trail and at one point saw some rustling in the the bushes a hundred metres away, so we made a point of talking loudly through the rest of the hike. We ended up hiking to a valley surrounded by cliffs on three out of four sides, which is at the back of this picture. I tried taking a panorama of the valley and will post that when I get home if it turns out.
I’m in Calgary for the rest of the week and then am off to Ottawa on Friday evening, where I’ll visit friends and then meet up with my folks before heading to Toronto a week later.
Update 2007/03/18: A gallery of photos from Alberta is now posted.
The spring term at Waterloo is now over, classes done, exams written, final marks submitted. I was taking one course this — Semidefinite Optimization — and teaching one course this term — Linear Algebra. I’ll write more about my teaching experiences in a later post, but right now I’m celebrating being done classes forever! Semidefinite Optimization was the last course I needed to satisfy the course requirements for my PhD. With it under my belt, I will never have to take another class again. Since 1998, I’ve taken 44 courses, including 13 graduate-level courses, and now I’m done. To complete my PhD, I still have to do my second-stage comprehensive exam (a presentation about my thesis topic), and then write and defend my thesis, which is the bulk of the work, but it will be nice to be able to focus on research and not coursework.