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Schrödinger's cat, a thought experiment proposed eighty years ago to illustrate the mind-boggling effect of quantum superposition—the unseen cat in the box that is neither dead nor alive, but in a so-called superposition of both states at once—has become a common creature in physics labs around the world. Researchers are creating ever larger and more complex Schrödinger's cats using systems of photons, clouds of ultra-cold atoms, and superconducting devices, and have even learned to herd multiple quantum cats. Recent research also suggests that quantum information and entanglement of quantum states—a concept coined by Schrödinger at the time when his famous feline came into being—may be key to understanding quantum gravity, one of the greatest unsolved problems of modern physics. Physicists are now wrestling with another paradox thought experiment that describes the fate of quantum states at the event horizon of a black hole and may upend some of the time-tested fundamental theories. This panel will discuss the fascinating interplay between two great theories of the 20th century—quantum theory and general relativity—and how these phenomena may be exploited, from black holes to quantum computing.
* Reception to follow.
Scott Aaronson, PhD
Author of Quantum Computing Since Democritus; Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Daniel Harlow, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University Center for the Fundamental Laws of Nature
Brian Swingle, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics
George Musser, PhD
Contributing Editor at Scientific American; author of Spooky Action at a Distance and The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory
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This program is made possible by the generous support of:
The event is part of the Physics of Everything series.
This six-part series will unite some of the most vibrant public intellectuals and communicators of today—from scientists to philosophers, and ethicists to educators—for explorations that reflect on the current state of modern physical sciences.
To learn more about each lecture and to purchase tickets, click on the links below.
- • What Does the Future Hold for Physics: Is There a Limit to Human Knowledge? Tuesday, April 5, 2016
- • Where do Physics and Philosophy Intersect? Monday, April 25, 2016
- • Complexity: A Science of the Future? Monday, May 9, 2016
- • The Rise of Human Consciousness Monday, May 23, 2016
- • Are We Alone in the Universe? Monday, June 13, 2016
- • Did Einstein Kill Schrödinger's Cat? A Quantum State of Mind Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Jennifer Costley, PhD
Director, Physical Sciences, Sustainability & Engineering