I’m in San Francisco now. For the past couple of days, I’ve been doing the apartment-hunting thing and interviewing thing. (It’s funny: I’ve had more luck finding job interviews than finding apartment interviews.)
I had one interview today, but in the end everyone agreed (including me) that I wouldn’t be a good fit for what they do. They make their margins by using lower-end hardware, and tuning the heck out of their code. They do some major low-level, multi-threaded, highly-concurrent programming. They are knowingly well outside of the bounds of J2EE, and since all my experience is in J2EE, I didn’t have the depth in concurrent programming that they would need.
On the plus side, I did receive one very nice offer from another company. I’m not planning on making my decision until the end of the week (at the earliest), but it’s nice to know that I "have one in the bag".
Lightning on Demand
In my pursuit of taking in all this city has to offer, I went to a presentation last night by Greg Leyh, who is pulsed-power systems engineer at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He presented some of the information that the Lightning On Demand website talks about.
At first, I was skeptical. I had seen some of these "lightning machines" at Science Museums before… I didn’t realize there were so many un-researched avenues that a set of mega-scale Tesla coils could provide.
For example, there is a theoretical limit to the size that one could build a Tesla coil. One of the biggest things that Greg suggested is that humanity probably should build a Tesla coil at it’s theoretical limits, because there may be some interesting physics present at that point. I think that is a HUGE intellectual statement to make, and I agree with the sentiment.
One of the other things that really struck me was when an audience member asked (paraphrase): "Do you worry that the military might use your research for destructive purposes?" Greg seemed put off by this question. It may be that with his depth and breadth of knowledge in the subject matter, he already knows there’s no possible way that anyone could "weaponize" his research. At the same time, it was interesting to see a true scientist realize that he could end up in the same spot in which Oppenhiemer found himself.
All in all, it was a really cool evening!