Oh man sometimes even I, a staunch Caltech grad, wish I could be at MIT. The MIT QIP seminar this next Monday looks…intriguing (Monday 10/26 at 4:00 in 36-428 silly MITers and their numbered buildings, so cold.):
David Kaiser (MIT)
How the Hippies Saved Physics
In recent years, the field of quantum information science-an amalgam of topics ranging from quantum encryption, to quantum computing, quantum teleportation, and more-has catapulted to the cutting edge of physics, sporting a multi-billion-dollar research program, tens of thousands of published research articles, and a variety of device prototypes. This tremendous excitement marks the tail end of a long-simmering Cinderella story. Long before the big budgets and dedicated teams, the field smoldered on the scientific sidelines. In fact, the field’s recent breakthroughs derive, in part, from the hazy, bong-filled excesses of the 1970s New Age movement. Many of the ideas that now occupy the core of quantum information science once found their home amid an anything-goes counterculture frenzy, a mishmash of spoon-bending psychics, Eastern mysticism, LSD trips, CIA spooks chasing mind-reading dreams, and comparable “Age of Aquarius” enthusiasms. For the better part of two decades, the concepts that would,in time, blossom into developments like quantum encryption were bandied about in late-night bull sessions and hawked by proponents of a burgeoning self-help movement-more snake oil than stock option. This talk describes the field’s bumpy transition from New Age to cutting edge.
I knew that the hippies drove the computer revolution but did not know that they are also responsible for quantum information science 🙂