Category Archives: ressources


I’ve run my first quantum computation!

Since I was working on the latest iteration of classical computer manufacturing techniques (EUV lithography), everyone asked me what were my thought on the future of Moore’s law, and what did I think about quantum computing. To the first question, I could mumble things about transistor size and the fact that we’re getting awfully close to the atomic size; to the latter question… I just had to go figure out myself!

Back in April, I’ve invited Irfan Siddiqi (, founding director of the brand new Center for Quantum Coherent Science, and his postdocs at Berkeley lab to give a talk to postdocs, and last the lab announced the first 45-qubits quantum simulations on the NERSC… things are going VERY fast! (read the Quantum manifesto)

Kevin O'Brien on multiplexing qubit readouts

Kevin O’Brien on multiplexing qubit readouts

This is thanks to Rigetti, a full-stack quantum computer startup based in Berkeley (Wired, IEEE Spectrum).

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Open Access

My article for the Berkeley Science Review on Open Access is out, and it is available here (for free, of course!): Science to the people.

“Astronomers and physicists have been sharing pre-prints since before the web existed,” says Alberto Pepe, founder of the authoring and pre-printing platform Authorea. “Pre-prints are an effective (and fully legal) way to make open access a reality in all scholarly fields.” Within hours, articles are available online, and scientists can interact with the author, leaving comments and feedback. Importantly, submission, storage, and access are all free. The pre-printing model ensures that an author’s work is visible and properly indexed by a number of tools, such as Google Scholar.

Special thanks to Rachael Samberg from thee UC Library and Alberto Pepe from Authorea.

Things seems to change quickly in that field, thanks to institutional efforts:

Here’s a list of resources that I’ve compiled from the talk by Laurence Bianchini from MyScienceWork when I invited at LBL, and a piece written by Nils Zimmerman on Open Access at LBNL: Open Access publishing at Berkeley Lab.

Farewell to BPEP!

Yesterday, I’ve organized my last event with the Berkeley Postdoc Entrepreneurial Program (, an association dedicated to helping young researchers turning their science into companies that can benefit the economy directly. I served for about two years as the liaison for Berkeley Lab, and helped organize over a dozen events, directly responsible for four of them (on government funding, intellectual property, the art of pitch, and lastly a job fair.)

BPEP team with UC Berkeley vice-chancellor for reasearch, Paul Alivisatos

BPEP team with UC Berkeley vice-chancellor for research, Paul Alivisatos

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Berkeley Lab Postdoc Association

Dear reader,

I haven’t been very communicative lately, for I was kept busy by a very cool new venture : the birth of the Berkeley Lab Postdoc Association. The new association is meant to bring together over a thousand postdocs at Berkeley Lab, and provide them with support, career advice and bring feedback to the lab management about issues encountered by postdocs.logo_blpaNow that the association is alive and well (see the blog), I can tell a little about its story.

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Wanted : science tools for the digital age

The internet may still be less than 10,000-days old, it still fails to deliver for scientists.

By empowering institutions to efficiently track down the number of publications, pushing even further the drive to publish many half-baked ideas and follow the hype instead of long-term research. It is true that it had never been as simple to get access to a paper and makes life easier on many aspects– collaboration often just requires sending an email, but new hurdles have appeared, and these should be removed.05e2e400dd1165870b3787a527e4e753Here is a bunch of ideas on how to use the new digital tools we have at hand to make research easier and thus more efficient, and a limited overview of what we have now. Continue reading

Seminar & Luminaries

Here’s a bunch of resource where you can find cool seminars by some hardcore scientists (I mean not the kind of pseudo-scientific, inspirational talks that you’ll find over the web).

While I'm about to ask a question to Leon:)

yup, that’s me

In English

Feynman’s talk are an endless source of excitment. Project Tuva are a must-see, but many other videos are available on Youtube (Fun to Imagine, the pleasure of finding things out)

The Chua’s Lecture – Very recent lectures on memristors and chaos– fascinating !

The Royal Institution – very cool videos about science

Edge –  There’s a lot of cool videos on a wide variety of subjects

In French – En Français

Les Ernest – L’ENS offre un grand nombre video (15 min) sur toute sorte de sujets, par les plus grands experts du domaine.

Seminaire General du departement de Physique de l’Ecole Polytechnique – traitement nettement plus poussé (1h) sur un sujet particulier de la physique.

Enjoy !

Cyclotron Valley

I wrote a feature article for the Fall issue of the Berkeley Science Review (BSR) about the resources available for PhDs when they want to turn their research into companies.

Here it is : Cyclotron Valley

Cyclotron Valley (intial design)

One of the proposed cover designed (credit: Indrasen Bhattacharya)

Both research and entrepreneurship also require another crucial skill—flexibility. The academic must choose from many potential research paths and be prepared to alter his or her plans when experiments predictably don’t work. In the parlance of Silicon Valley, this is known as the pivot—an attempt to assess the validity of your current direction and then use that knowledge to devise another idea that works better.

This is part of my involvement with the Berkeley Postdoc Entrepreneurial Program (BPEP), the first association promoting entrepreneurship among skilled researchers, run by volunteers.

edit 12/20/15 : I’ve just read The Entrepreneurial State by Mariana Mazzucato. Quite interesting discussion on the (true) origin of innovation. Here’s a video that roughly summarizes the book.

Information in optics

Dear reader,

I’ve compiled here, just for you, three old article that I’ve OCRed and revamped a little bit. They are article with a lot of style and insight, that people sometimes cite without ever reading them… mostly because they’re not readily available. That’s the silly situation I wanted to fix.
– Enjoy !

Zernike – Physica IX, no 7 (1942)
Phase Contrast, A New Method for the Microscopic Observation of Transparent Object

Gerchberg and Saxton – Optik Vol. 35, No.2 (1972)
A Practical Algorithm for the Determination of Phase from Image and Diffraction Plane Pictures

Gabor – Progress in Optics Vol. 1 (1951)
Light and information” (still under revision)

Here’s a blissful excerpt from Gabor’s piece :

Light is our most powerful source of information on the physical world. Anthropologists have often emphasized that the privileged position of Man is due as much to his exceptionally perfect eye, as to his large brain. I was much impressed by a remark of Aldous Huxley, that we owe our civilization largely to the fact that vision is an objective sense. An animal with an olfactory sense or with hearing, however well developed, could never have created science. A smell is either good or bad, and even hearing is never entirely neutral; music can convey emotions with an immediateness of which the sober visual arts are incapable. No wonder that the very word “objective” has been appropriated by optics. But on the other hand it is probably the peculiar character of vision which is chiefly responsible for one of the most deep-rooted of scientific prejudices; that the world can be divided into an outer world and into an “objective” observer, who observes “what there is”, without influencing the phenomena in the slightest.

Tukey – Annals of Statistical Mathematics
The future of data analysis” (1961) — still working on it

Zernike – Physica I, pp. 689-704 (1932)
Diffraction theory of the knife-edge test and its improved form“,
translation by Anthony Yen (who went all in by redrawing all the figures !)


A gedankenexperiment by Gabor, to discuss the nature of information contained in light


— Thanks to Martin Burkhardt for sharing some of these pieces !

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Les avancées technologiques à surveiller

Dear English-speaking readers :
I wrote a piece in French about upcoming consumer technologies

Je viens de publier un article sur les avancées technologiques à surveiller (sur

Bien que ces derniers temps la tendance dans la Silicon Valley était plutôt du coté des applications, des API et de réseau sociaux, nous avons très récemment eu droit a un regain de créativité en terme de hardware, et je vous propose ici de faire un petit tour de ce qui fait friser les neurones des ingénieurs du cru.

On s’intéressera essentiellement aux innovations qui sont susceptibles de déboucher sur des produits de consommation, laissant de coté pour le moment d’autres secteurs très actifs comme celui des énergies renouvelables et les biosciences.


La deraisonnable efficacité des mathématiques

Hi peeps !

Dear English-speaking readers :
this post is about a French translation of Hamming’s
The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics
You can readily enjoy this text in English language!
C’est un texte que j’affectionne et qui reprend le question thème épistémologique abordé par Eugene Wigner dans “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences” (dont la traduction par mes soins est en cours)
Voici un extrait du texte :
C’est ainsi qu’il y a des odeurs que les chiens peuvent sentir et que nous ne pouvons sentir, des sons que les chiens peuvent entendre et que nous ne pouvons entendre, et encore des couleurs que nous nous ne pouvons voir et de saveurs dont nous ne pouvons nous délecter.
Des lors pourquoi, compte tenu de la façon dont nos cerveaux sont câblés, la remarque “Peut-être y a-t-il des pensées que nous ne pouvons pas concevoir” vous surprendrait-elle ? L’évolution, jusqu’à présent, pourrait nous avoir empêché de penser suivant certaines directions ; il se pourrait qu’il y ait des pensées impensables.
N’hesitez pas me faire part de vos commentaire, quand aux erreurs de typo éventuelles ou sur des problèmes de style.
Si le coeur vous en dit, vous pouvez faire un tour sur la partie “traduction” du blog pour retrouver d’autres textes  (dans le même esprit, vous trouverez “La relativite du faux” de Isaac Asimov)
Enjoy !
Principia Mathematica (theorem 54)

Pas si efficaces, les mathématiques…. Démonstration en logique formelle de “1+1=2” par Russell.