University of Calgary

Harnessing the weirdness of quantum mechanics

UToday HomeMay 25, 2012

Physicist Anton Zeilinger will explain some of the fundamental issues in quantum mechanics, and show how their application opens up avenues to a completely novel future information technology. Photo by Jacqueline Godany  Physicist Anton Zeilinger will explain some of the fundamental issues in quantum mechanics, and show how their application opens up avenues to a completely novel future information technology. Photo by Jacqueline Godany Can a coin be heads and tails at the same time? Can a molecule interfere with itself? Can particles at opposite ends of the universe still sense each other? Can we harness the weirdness of quantum mechanics to build computers that are more powerful than any ever conceived?

Anton Zeilinger, a world-renowned Austrian physicist specializing in quantum information science, conducts research that sheds light on the answers and has surprising applications for practical information technology.

Zeilinger, professor of physics at the University of Vienna and director of the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, will give the Herzberg memorial public lecture at the annual congress of the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP), hosted this year by the University of Calgary. Admission is free, and all are welcome.

Zeilinger has made major conceptual and experimental contributions spanning the breadth of quantum information science. He is perhaps best known for entangling light, so that different photons separated over very long distances behave as if they were one: measuring the state of one photon instantaneously affects the state of another. Notable examples include quantum cryptography between two points 144 km apart, and quantum teleportation across the river Danube.

Zeilinger has authored over 350 publications in peer-reviewed journals, three of which have been cited over 1000 times. His work has earned him numerous accolades, including the 2010 Wolf Prize in Physics, and the inaugural Newton Medal of the UK Institute of Physics. He has written the popular science book “Dance of the Photons: From Einstein to Quantum Teleportation.”

Peter Zoller, a theorist at the University of Innsbruck, also in Austria, described him: “He has an artist’s nose, the artistic intuition of a good painter. He has the brilliant ability to put his finger on the right points, to pick out the raisins in the cake.”

The free public lecture will be held on June 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Red and White Club at McMahon Stadium.

Zeilinger will explain some of the fundamental issues in quantum mechanics, and show how their application opens up new avenues to a completely novel future information technology.

He will also discuss why he believes that someday we will have absolutely secure communication and ultrafast computation based on these quantum phenomena.

More information is available at www.cap.ca/en/congress/2012