First quantum crypto bank transfer

John Denker jsd at
Mon Aug 23 01:04:58 EDT 2004

Jerrold Leichter <jerrold.leichter at> wrote:

> The press will always focus on things people understand, and which 
> seem to have short-term relevance. If you're objecting to researchers
> blowing their own horns ... well, that's the way the world works. 
> It's certainly been the way physics has had to work since it became
> impossible for an individual, and ultimately even an institution like
> a university. to be able to fund the experiments necessary to move 
> forward. Without public support, research will starve to death.

1) There is a difference between
  -- rightfully blowing one's horn, when one has something to
   blow about, versus
  -- saying things that aren't true.

We must object when people make claims that aren't true.  This
includes claiming something has short-term relevance when it
doesn't.  Responsibility for this attaches primarily to the
workers who originated the claims.  Responsibility attaches
secondarily to the press for uncritically propagating the
claims, but that's another matter.

2) As for "how the world works" ... the real world has means
for sanctioning people who say things that aren't true.

Perry E. Metzger wrote:

 > But we aren't physicists. We're security people. To us, this is an
 > extremely expensive way of producing a system that is no more secure
 > (and sometimes even less secure) than simply running, say, TLS.

Some of us are physicists.  In my judgement, these demonstrations
are not good physics.  They don't shed light on any of the
fundamental issues.  Sometimes the work is merely unoriginal, and
sometimes it's just plain wrong physics.  The fundamental physics
needed for these demonstrations was done years ago by other folks.
These demonstrations may be best thought of as a combination of
engineering and hype.

Investigators in any field (crypto or physics or whatever) must
exercise judgement in choosing which problems to attack.  If
somebody chooses a project such that even if the project meets
all its goals, the result is worthless ... that's spectacularly
bad judgement.

Hint: As a general rule, if somebody has to lie about the
applicability of his research in order to get funding, it's
because the research won't stand on its own merits.

Snake oil plus hbar equals snake oil.

I once knew a guy who passed himself off as a professor of
mathematical biology.  He would go to math conferences and
mumbo about biology (very impressive).  He would go to biology
conferences and jumbo about math (very impressive).  In fact,
though, he didn't have much to contribute to either field.

Calling oneself a physicist does not give one a license to
do bad cryptography.  Or vice versa.

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