Birkhoff-von Neumann Prize

I was delighted to learn that I was awarded with the “Birkhoff-von Neumann Prize” by the International Quantum Structures Association. I feel very honored and humbled — at once! — to join a list including such superb colleagues. Thank you very much!

Francesco Buscemi is Associate Professor at the Department of Mathematical Informatics of Nagoya University, Japan. His results solved some long-standing open problems in the foundations of quantum physics, using ideas from mathematical statistics and information theory. He established, in a series of single-authored papers, the theory of quantum statistical morphisms and quantum statistical comparison, generalizing to the noncommutative setting some fundamental results in mathematical statistics dating back to works of David Blackwell and Lucien Le Cam. In particular, Prof. Buscemi successfully applied his theory to construct the framework of “semiquantum nonlocal games,” which extend Bell tests and are now widely used in theory and experiments to certify, in a measurement device-independent way, the presence of non-classical correlations in space and time.

In such an occasion, it is impossible not to remember Professor Paul Busch, gentleman scientist, President of IQSA until his sudden death, of which I learned almost simultaneously with my award.

Popper against the ideas of dignity, wholeness, real truth, and essentiality in science

popper

Thus I freely admit that in arriving at my proposals I have been guided, in the last analysis, by value judgments and predilections. But I hope that my proposals may be acceptable to those who value not only logical rigour but also freedom from dogmatism; who seek practical applicability, but are even more attracted by the adventure of science, and by discoveries which again and again confront us with new and unexpected questions, challenging us to try out new and hitherto undreamt-of answers.

Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery. 2nd Edition (Routledge, 1999), p.38.

Saint Lucy’s Day: the longest night of the year

In Piacenza, the city where I was born, children receive their presents not for Christmas, but on Saint Lucy’s day (Santa Lucia). They say that Saint Lucy’s Day, the 13th day of December, has the longest night of the year:

“Santa Lucia, la notte più lunga che ci sia.”

This, in a way, makes perfect sense, as the Saint Little Girl needs time to go around, house by house, delivering the presents.

However, everyone knows that the longest night of the year (for the Boreal Hemisphere) is not the one between the 12th the 13th of December, but that between the 21st and the 22nd, aka the Winter Solstice! That’s why I always assumed that such a saying was to be meant as a sort of `poetic license,’ possibly suggested by the rhyming words `Lucia‘ and `sia.’

Today, however, I discovered another interesting, plausible reason for the saying. The discrepancy between Saint Lucy’s day and the Winter Solstice could also be due to the introduction of  the Gregorian calendar, in AD1582, which shifted the calendar back of ten~ish days. And so, everything fits together again: how nice!

Happy Saint Lucy’s Day!

Edit 2014-12-16: Richard Gill on Google+ points out that, as a matter of fact, the current St Lucy’s Day has the earliest (though not the longest) night.