Kung Physics
A Physics Walkabout

In this page I hope to put more information on my postdoc travels. (For more information on me, go to tahan.com/charlie.) It would also be nice to be able to put some (extremely limited) advice in writing for potential future physicists, as well as some fun stuff. For now, I hope you'll settle for some pictures and brief comments.

About my job. I'm doing an unusual postdoc. I have a NSF fellowship (Fall 2005 - Fall 2007) to do research in theoretical physics around the world, specifically at the University of Cambridge, University of Melbourne, and University of Tokyo. I'm presently writing a short series of articles based on my experiences for the jobs section of Nature. I will post the articles here as they become available:

  1. A Physics Walkabout (PDF here). Background information and what four months doing research in Australia was like. (Go to the Australia page.)
  2. coming soon?... Article on Japan
  3. coming soon?... Article on the UK

Where does "Kung Physics" come from? When I was growing up, there was a corny TV show called Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, the sequel to the classic seventies series Kung Fu. Both star David Carradine, aka Caine, who "walks the earth" doing good. His tagline was: "I am Caine. I will help you". Hence the running joke: "I am Charlie. I will help you (do good physics.)" What's life without corny jokes?

Acknowledgements. Doing something crazy like what I'm doing can only happen with the support and accomodation of wonderful people. I would sincerely like to thank all those people who have helped me along the way: my parents (it would be impossible to be so detached from the world without a base somewhere and people looking out for you); my hosts: Peter Littlewood, Lloyd Hollenberg, Seigo Tarucha, who have been unbelievably accomodating of my changing schedules and many distractions; all the secretaries around the world who have helped me so much with visas, housing, etc - Tracey, Yasuko, and Sayoko; and my past advisors and colleagues including especially Bob Joynt and Mark Friesen.

Last Update: June 5, 2006

University of Melbourne, AU: November 2005 - February 2006

Go to the Australia page.


University of Tokyo, Japan: July 10 - September 10
  • I visited the group of Seigo Tarucha at the University of Tokyo (Applied Physics Dept.) nand NTT.
  • More text coming!!!

Skyliner train from Narita Airport, Tokyo, Japan. Empty airport for some reason.

Everything seems a bit different.

I have arrived.

Outside of Ueno station. Remember this: TAXI DRIVERS DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH. One simple word could have saved me an hour: Todai (Japanese for the University of Tokyo).

Street from Ookayama Station to the International House at ToKoDai (Tokyo Insitute of Technology) where I stayed.

Opposite direction.

The local grocery store. Very nice and big.

Ookayama station.

Ookayama station.

Ooooookayama. Oooooookayama. So said the sultry metro girl voice.

Reading Tokyo metro maps. And this is one line, of many.

Waiting for the train to downtown in Oookayama.

I love the differences in metro systems around the world. Tokyo moves A LOT of people, on time.


Kayaking in Sydney. I spent Christmas and New Years in Sydney. Like I said, the Aussies know how to live.

Every kind of drink you can imagine, but no food.

One of the main gates to Todai, Hongo campus.

View from a bridge connecting two blocks on the Todai Hongo Campus.

The bridge to lunch.

Walking out of the main door of the Applied Physics building at Todai (Hongo).

Red gate at Todai. These fancy gates make me feel important. The bowing from the security guards helps.

Street outside Todai.

Another gate.

Same street.

Entering Todai. Green, Trees, Life!

Entering Todai. Green, Trees, Life!

Out with the Tarucha group to a party for a visiting professor.

Yup, that's a roller coaster in the middle of the city.

The baseball stadium (Tokyo Dome) is HUGE.

Bar across from Tokyo Dome.

Bar across from Tokyo Dome.

Bar across from Tokyo Dome.



The group.

Happy hour, baby.


Tarucha-sensei, far right.


I like experimental groups.


It's pretty hilarious going home at night on the metro with all the drunk Japanese.

Just one more.

Good night.

Another view of street to Tokodai.

An atypical ride to work, the train is empty!

These 4 kids were real cute. Very mischievous on their way to school.

Tarucha office at Todai.

My desk.

This is Japan. There are little baggies everywhere you go to put your wet umbrella.

Todai has some really beautiful architecture.

Todai at daytime.




Group outing - western pub.

Two of those guys are in the Tarucha group. Some serious talent on the left.

Oiwa-san et al.

Imported talent.

Off the bus at the NTT-Atsugi stop with Teraoka-san.

NTT gate. NTT is the AT&T of Japan. Except they still do basic research.



NTT's cafeteria is amazing. In fact all Japanese cafeteria's are amazingly good, for food and price.

Special machines detect what you ate. It's like living in the future.

No human interaction necessary.

You can see the mountains from NTT!

Another view from NTT building.

View from NTT.

Sparkling and cleaner than a hospital and NTT...and oh so new.

Another view.

Industrial basic research, America used to do that.


Hallway at NTT.

Cubicles have spread throughout the world like a disease.

Another avenue in the Todai Hongo campus.

Woman painting.

Kayaking in Sydney. I spent Christmas and New Years in Sydney. Like I said, the Aussies know how to live.

Kayaking in Sydney. I spent Christmas and New Years in Sydney. Like I said, the Aussies know how to live.

Akihabara - electric town! I've heard about this!






Go colonel.

What is with KFC? It was really popular in Australia too.

Akihabara...kind of a let down honestly.

Childhood memories.

The walk from Wakoshi station to RIKEN.

One of many RIKEN buildings.

Sahel and Koji in Franco Nori's group at RIKEN.

Hey, that's me!

Visiting RIKEN - the Japanese uper-research agency.

Long walk to RIKEN.


I don't remember when or why I was here.

Michel-san and his wife (from Canada).

Christo-san (the Netherlands), Alessandro-san (Zurich), and Taruacha-sensei

Stopa-san and Oiwa-san.


Path to Riken.

More Riken.

Waiting for a train with Alessandro-san, on the way to NTT, Japan's equal to AT&T Bell Labs (but still going strong).

Train platform.

It's a 2 hour trip to NTT.

If you look closely you will see the "Hyper-Photonic Component Laboratory". These kind of crazy translation mistakes are common all over Japan, even in really professional settings. I wished I remembered what they said it actually meant!

Overview picture of NTT.

Going to my going away party.

Nice restaurant!

Tarucha-san et al. admire to shoe storage facilities.


Yes we sit on the floor.

Great guys...

all of them...

This is part of the Tokyo train map.

The street by Tokodai (Tokyo Institute of Technology), where I stayed.

Streets of Oookayama.

Off the street lies a path...

To an almost mythical lake surrounded by ancient trees.

Supposedly, it's the "pond" where the samurai washed their feet before entering the Emperor's territory.

It took 2 months to find this place! Then I had to go!


Stairs back to busy Tokyo.



coming soon... Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge: Permanent home, Sept. 2005 - present
  • Peter Littlewood is my host in the Theory of Condensed Matter group.


Where next?


More links
Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University
Cambridge Centre for Quantum Computation
Centre for Quantum Computer Technology
Physics at the University of Melbourne
Tarucha lab at the University of Tokyo
Web www.tahan.com
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