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51st Annual Smith Lecture with Nobel Laureate, David Wineland

Superposition, Entanglement, and Raising Schrödinger's Cat
David J. Wineland - 2012 Nobel Laureate in Physics

Free and open to the public.

The Department of Physics has once again attracted the most recent Nobel Laureate to campus for the annual Alpheus Smith Lecture. David Wineland, 2013 Nobel Laureate in Physics will present Superposition, Entanglement, and Raising Schrodinger's Cat on April 4, 8 pm in the Fawcett Center Auditorium. This public lecture, supported by a grant from the descendants of Alpheus Smith, former chair of the Dept of Physics and Dean of the Graduate School is in its 51st year. Many of the former speakers have been Nobel Prize Winners. More information on the Smith Lecture, past and present.

In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger, one of the inventors of quantum mechanics, pointed out that its extension to the real world could lead to bizarre situations such as a cat being simultaneously alive and dead--called a superposition state.

In 2013, researchers can create similar situations on a small scale, such as putting an atom in a “bowl” and placing it on the left and right sides of the bowl simultaneously.

This is potentially useful for information processing: two energy levels in an atom, labeled “0” and “1,” can be used to store information like the bits in our laptops. The quantum bit can be arranged in a superposition- -storing both states of the bit simultaneously—leading to a memory and processing capacity that increases exponentially with the number of bits. Combined with a property called “entanglement,” a quantum computer could be developed to solve problems impossible using today’s computers.

Wineland will describe experiments on quantum state manipulation and atomic clocks that employ trapped atomic ions.