Nominate yourself or someone else for the APS/FIAP Career Lectureship Award (FCLA)

APS and the APS Forum for Industrial and Applied Physics (FIAP) just reworked their distinguished lectureship award to focus more clearly on careers. It’s now called the FIAP Career Lectureship Award (FCLA). The goal of this award is to find physicists with fascinating careers outside of physics and support them in giving talks on their career to physics students. Does someone you know have a cool non-academic career? Do you? If so, considering nominating them (or yourself)! Applications are due June 1.

More information here.

And a little humblebrag: I did help redesign this award as part of my work on the APS Committee on Careers and Professional Development (CCPD).


April 14, 2023

Today, 4/14, is World Quantum Day 🎉 (4/14 is a reference to Planck’s constant 4.14…×10−15 eV⋅s). Have a superluminal day!

Black cat glaring at camera
Here’s my cat, who refuses to take part in any experiments after that incident with Schrödinger.

FECS Event at the 2023 March Meeting

If you’re interested in *my* talk, that information is here.

I’m really excited about the slate of events that FECS has put together for the 2023 March Meeting in Las Vegas. This includes Monday’s talk by Dr. Savannah Garmon “A trans perspective on building supportive and inclusive physics communities” and Tuesday’s FECS reception which will, for the first time since 2019, include complementary BEER. Hope to see you there!

Come visit us at the FECS table (location TBD) where we will be giving out FECS-branded merch (luggage tags, totes and webcam covers).

Please join us for FECS (Forum for Early Career Scientists) sponsored sessions at the upcoming APS March Meeting in Las Vegas:

FECS Sponsored Sessions

31.00.00 FECS Symposium Invited Speaker
B51: The Early Career Scientist Experience in Times of Crisis and Struggle
Monday March 6, 11:30 am-2:30 pm PST, Location: Room 321
In addition to the pressures of working towards an established career, early career scientists also face numerous other hurdles that are shaped by both external and internal forces. In this session, we hear from the experiences and perspectives of various early career researchers who have been impacted by tumultuous events: past and present, global and personal. This FECS-sponsored session is a continuation in the series of FECS sponsored sessions on highlighting resources and advice relevant to the early career demographic of APS.

31.03.00 FECS Postdoctoral Poster Competition (G00)
Tuesday, March 7, 2:00-5:00 pm, Location: Exhibit Hall (Forum Ballroom)
An award for the “Best Poster” will consist of a $500 prize and a certificate; runners-up will receive a certificate and $100.

31.02.00 FECS/FIAP Early Career Physics
M51: What Do Early Career Physicists Do?
Wednesday March 8, 8:00-11:00 am PST, Location: Room 321
Not all scientists work in labs! Join FECS and FIAP (the Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics) as we learn about various non-traditional careers from early-career scientists working directly in those fields.

30.00.00 FIP/FECS Symposium Invited Speaker
Q50: International Perspective for Young Physicists from Particle to Materials
Wednesday March 8, 3:00-6:00 pm PST, Location: Room 320
Come learn about the research of various young and promising physicists from international backgrounds whose work spans length scales ranging from microscopic to macroscopic phenomena.

L70 FECS Reception
Tuesday, March 7, 6:15 – 7:00 pm PST, Location: Room 409
Join the FECS Exec committee for refreshments (** beer + snacks **) to meet other early career scientists and provide your thoughts and suggestions for future FECS events and efforts.

We hope to see you there!

Full details on FECS website here.

On the 77th anniversary of Hiroshima

Today–August 6, 2022–marks the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. In an instant, a single bomb killed or fatally wounded at least 90,000 people and marked the beginning of the nuclear era.

In 2019, I had the privilege of visiting the beautiful city of Hiroshima and the profoundly moving museum and memorial there. It is a powerful reminder of the responsibility that we all share to ensure these weapons are never used again.

The survivors of the attack, known in Japanese as Hibakusha (atomic bomb affected people), dedicated their lives to telling the world about the horrors they endured in order to rid the world of these terrible weapons. Nuclear weapons are going nowhere soon, but I am deeply grateful to the Hibakusha. World War II was the first and, thanks to their efforts, only nuclear war.

Come check out these excellent early career scientist-focused sessions at the APS March Meeting

We’re super excited for the 2022 March Meeting and we at FECS have prepared a program of some excellent events focusing on the unique interests of early career scientists. Also keep an eye out for our table somewhere in the hallways. I hope to see you there!


B13. (Invited) Policies and Postdocs: Early-Career Perspectives on How Public Policy Affects Scientists and How Scientists Can Affect Public Policy
11:30am – 2:30pm CT
McCormick Place W-183A (and live stream)
Early career scientists don’t live in a vacuum; we interact with policies made everywhere from APS to universities to federal agencies and even Congress. These interactions go both ways: we can influence these policies and even become the policymakers. Join us to hear from an NSF program director, the recent chair of the APS Ethics Committee, an author of the APS TEAM-UP report, APS government affairs and the acting Chief of Staff for the Dept. of Energy Office of Science. 

FECS Postdoctoral Poster Prize Competition
2:00pm – 5:00 pm 
McCormick Place Exhibit Hall F1 (abstracts G71-107)
Every March Meeting, FECS hosts a competition for the best postdoc prize with cash prizes of up to $500 (more info here). Come check out the competitors and their excellent work! The poster session is in the main exhibit hall abstracts G71-107. 


K13. (Invited) What Do Early-Career Physicists Do?    (Cosponsored with FIAP)
3:00pm – 6:00pm CT
McCormick Place W-183A (and live stream)
   Not all scientists work in labs! Join FECS and FIAP (the Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics) as we learn about careers in scientific publishing, data science, entrepreneurship and public engagement from early-career scientists working directly in those fields. 

FECS Reception
6:15pm CT – ???
McCormick Place W-185BC 
    Now that we are finally back to in-person meetings, we can enjoy the magic of free snacks and chatting with fellow physicists without screens or breakout rooms or mute buttons. Join FECS for an informal meetup of scientists from all career stages. Individually packaged refreshments will be provided. All March Meeting attendees are welcome, but unfortunately for our virtual colleagues, this is an in-person only event. 


N32. (Invited) Distinguished International Early Career Scientists in Quantum Physics (Cosponsored with FIP) 
11:30am – 2:30pm CT 
McCormick Place W-192B (and live stream)
    FECS and FIP (the Forum on International Physics) come together to sponsor an invited session highlighting the work of international early career scientists in quantum physics. 

All this information is available on our public facing website if you want to share.

My vaccination card and health insurance card with vaccination sticker

Vaccination update: I got my second shot!

Update 2021-07-13: All adult residents of Taiwan now eligible to sign up to the vaccine waitlist. You’ll get a text when you can make an appointment.
Update 2021-07-06: Free PCR tests now available in Taipei (previously ~$270 USD) [Focus Taiwan].

Today (Monday July 5, 2021), I got my second shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine at NTUH. If you got your first shot through the “self paid” vaccination program, you should be eligible to make an appointment for your second shot.

Continue reading

Vaccination update: self-paid vaccine delayed 2-4 weeks

Update 2021-07-05 — Actually got my second shot. Details in new post.
Update 2021-06-21 — I got a second notice from NTUH. I think online appointments will open 6/23. Details at the end.

As promised, I’m writing to update you all on the progress of getting a self-paid vaccine in Taiwan (see my earlier post). I received a text message from NTU Hospital telling me not to come to my second shot appointment scheduled for Monday (6/21), and that the second shots for self-paid vaccines will be given at an interval of 10-12 weeks instead of 8 weeks. Details below the break.

Continue reading
screenshot of apple music library

AMPArtworkAgent, or how I repaired my Mac’s iTunes music library

This is off the usual theme of my blog posts, but I had this problem with my music library on my mac and I couldn’t find any solution online and Apple support didn’t quite know what to do either, so I wanted to document how I fixed it for others.


The problem

The most immediate problem: ever since upgrading to macOS Big Sur, opening iTunes starts a background process “AMPArtworkAgent” which would run at high CPU usage in the background, not apparently doing anything at all. I tried leaving it running overnight, and it never stopped.

For more context: I have been having on and off problems with my music library since at least 2019. I would find duplicates of songs purchased from iTunes (one version in the cloud, one downloaded one), occasionally syncing my phone would cause playlists to duplicate, “playlist” and “playlist 1”, other things like that. I also found that genius had not been working for a while, but it’s hard to tell if that was related.

Note: that I am going to refer to the app on my mac as iTunes (even though it is called music) for clarity.

My setup

  • Mid 2020 Macbook Air (Intel), 1TB SSD, macOS 11.2.3 Big Sur (current version)
  • iPhone Xr 256 GB iOS 14.4.2 (current version)
  • Music library:
    • 9,950 songs, 59 GB
    • Not subscribed to Apple Music
    • iCloud music library off
    • No iTunes Match
    • Songs a mixture of imported mp3s and songs purchased from iTunes store
    • “Keep music media folder organized” on
  • No Apple Music subscription. I manage the music on my Mac and sync it to my phone by USB.

The solution

Step 1: Back everything up

  • Run time machine backup
  • Copy entire /Users/iaizzi/Music/ folder to an external hard drive
  • Export library metadata
    • File -> Library -> Export library…
    • This includes all your playlists, play counts, other metadata, but not actual music (so the file is small)
    • Save it somewhere outside your music library folder
screenshot of options to export library

Step 2: Create a new blank music library

You can have more than one library on a mac and you switch between them by holding option when you click to open iTunes.

  • Quit iTunes, restart computer
  • Hold option key and click on the iTunes logo
  • You should see a dialog like the screenshot below. Select “Create library” to create a blank music library.
screenshot of music library select window
  • Give it a useful name to distinguish from the library you already have, save it wherever you want, just not inside of the old iTunes library.
  • Click okay to enter iTunes. You should now have a completely blank music library, crucially, the database for the library will be a new “Music” library, and not the old “iTunes” library.
  • Before you do anything else, open Music -> Preferences:
    • In “Files” (see screenshot below)
      • Confirm that the “Music Media folder location” is in the place you selected
      • Uncheck “Keep music media folder organized”
      • Uncheck “Copy files to Music Media folder when adding to library”
    • In “Advanced”
      • Uncheck “automatically update artwork”
screenshot of preferences window with correct setting selected
  • iTunes may already be signed into your store account, so you may see the your purchased songs in the library, but not playlists, or any other data you have added.
  • It may run “fetching artist artwork” or something like that. That is a separate process from the album artwork issue.
  • Let iTunes run until it’s done with any checks, downloads, etc

Step 3: Reimport your music

Here’s where things get weird/touchy. I know this exact order of doing things worked, I can’t make any guarantees about trying these steps out of order.

  • Reboot computer
  • Open iTunes, confirm in settings that you are still pointed to the correct music library.
    • Your new music media file should still be small, only whatever purchases you have downloaded there.
  • Import your old library metadata using File -> Library -> Import playlist… and select the XML file you exported in step 1.
    • This should import all your playlists, and all of your songs should appear too with the correct metadata.
    • You may get an error “some of the songs in the file not imported because the files could not be found” you might want to save the list it provides, but I don’t believe this is an actual problem (these are probably weird wrong listings that were in the old library).
    • Right now, the files for your songs are still in the old library location.
    • But your library (in Preferences -> Files) should still be pointing to the new location you set.
  • Importing the library may take only a few minutes, but iTunes may run some other processes like “determining gapless playback information,” let all these run completely.
  • Check that you have the same number of songs and that you can play both purchased and non-purchased music.

Step 4: Copy the music files over

  • Once you’re done with step 3, reboot your computer and reopen iTunes
  • Now it’s time to copy the actual music files into your new library.
  • Go to “File -> Library -> Organize Library… ” and check “consolidate files” in the dialog and click okay
    • This may take a little while as it copies (not moves) the files from your old iTunes folder to the new music library.
    • Give it time to run and do any other processing
  • After this is complete, check that you can still play your music files.
  • Check that the songs files themselves are located in the new music library:
    • Right click on a song -> Get info
    • Select the “File” tab
    • Location should list a location in the new music folder you selected (the path should not include “iTunes”)
    • This may not show anything for undownloaded purchases
    • You should check a few songs this way to confirm they have moved.
  • Check that your new music folder is now taking up more storage space (probably to match the size of your libary listed in iTunes)

Step 5: Sync with your phone

I waited to do this until I was sure I had fixed everything else up. Since it was a new music library, it will want to remove all the music from your phone and start fresh. This seems to work fin and I was able to make changes on the mac and have them appear on the phone and vice versa.

Step 6: Cleanup

I’ve been slowly turning on the remaining services and I think everything is working.

  • Ran “Get album artwork” manually. Seems to work fine.
  • Re-enabled genius
  • Still haven’t tried cleaning up my old library, so right now I still have the original library taking up space in another directory.
  • I’ve been able to add music to the library and run “consolidate library” with no problems. Not seeing duplicates.


Attempted fixes (that didn’t work)

  • Restarting in safe mode
  • Resetting NVRAM, SMC
  • Start iTunes while holding shift/option
  • Deleting album artwork file from music library (notably, none of the files in the album artwork file had been updated in a long time)
  • Toggling Preferences -> Advanced -> Automatically update artwork on and off
  • Resetting store cache
  • Running “consolidate files”
  • Manually running “Get Album Artwork”

Cautions about this approach

  • Need enough space to have two copies of your music library.
  • I had to try this twice, the first time the new library somehow reverted back to the old media files location and I had to delete the new library and start again. I suspect (but have not tested) that my first attempt at a new library got messed up when I opened the old library and then returned to the new library.
  • You will need to reauthorize computer to play purchased songs
    • I’ve had a bit of trouble with having to reauthorize purchased songs. Not sure what the deal with that is, but it may go away.
  • “Date added” metadata not saved
  • The old iTunes library may still have your podcasts, TV shows, movies, etc in it, so I’m not sure if you can delete it safely.
  • I don’t have the exact same number of songs as before, but the difference is less than 5 songs, so I think it might be some weird technicality about whether voice memos count as songs or something.
  • My library is much smaller than it was before 78 GB -> 60 GB. I think the previous number included podcasts and movies which haven’t been moved to the new library, but I’m not sure.

Speculations on the origin of the problem

This problem became acute when I upgraded to macOS Big Sur, but I think the origin of the problem is a bit older. I have done a couple Apple Music (subscription service) trials over the years, and I think the last time I did use the “iCloud Music Library” service (or something like that). I think turning that off might have caused some weird problems in my music library database that festered over the years. After I turned off the subsciptions, I remember having a very stubborn problem with syncing my iPhone. I kept getting duplicate playlists and other errors. It took multiple attempts to totally clear the music off my phone and sync it as a new phone.

The changeover from iTunes to “Music” on the mac might have introduced some weirdness as well, especially because my library was converted to the new format, but the media files themselves remained in the same place. I attempted to alleviate some of these problems over the summer by setting up my new computer as a new machine rather than restoring from a backup of my old computer.

Closing thoughts

I want to commend all the individual Apple tech support representatives I spoke with over text and over the phone. They were all patient and listened carefully to understand my problem. I am less pleased with the overall system they were working within. I ended up speaking to six different people before I was escalated to the senior advisor (Donald, who was great!). The problem is that when chatting, there is no way to reconnect to the same person when your session gets disconnected, even if it gets disconnected because you had to reboot your computer. That was compounded by the link to reconnect to the service connecting me to the wrong department.

Finally, I want to lodge a complaint about Apple’s naming scheme for their apps and other trademarks. Apple really likes to call their apps by common nouns, (Music, Pages, Numbers, Notes, Messages, etc). I understand the appeal of this scheme, but it has made it nearly impossible to find help for these products. iTunes was a great name, and it was even better when the Apple Music service was introduced, since it distinguished the app from the service. It was almost impossible to search for help specific to this app, because most of the results end up being about the service Apple Music. I had to search for iTunes to get useful results even though that is the wrong name. It’s even hard to distinguish them when you’re talking to someone “I am having a problem with Music on my mac, no I don’t have Apple Music on my mac.”