Each fall, the University of Michigan Department of Physics hosts the annual Ta-You Wu Lecture, which is one of the most prestigious lecture events in our Department. The Lectureship was endowed in 1991 through generous gifts from the University of Michigan Alumni Association in Taiwan. It is named in honor of Michigan Physics alumnus and honorary Doctor of Science,
Ta-You Wu, one of the central figures of the 20th century in the Chinese and Taiwanese physics communities.
2013 Ta-You Wu Distinguished Lecturer
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Tuesday April 9, 2013
Blau Auditorium, Ross School of Business
There will be a reception at 3:30 P.M. prior to the lecture.
Superposition, Entanglement, and Raising Schrödinger’s Cat
In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger, one of the inventors of quantum mechanics, illustrated his discomfort with the theory by pointing out that its extension to the macroscopic world could lead to bizarre situations such as a cat being simultaneously alive and dead, a so-called superposition state. Today, we 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.
Superpositions are potentially useful for information processing. For example, two energy levels in an atom, labeled "0" and "1," can be used to store information like the bits in our laptops. However, as in the atom/bowl experiment, we can arrange the quantum bit to be in a superposition, thereby storing both states of the bit simultaneously. This property leads to a memory and processing capacity that increases exponentially with the number of bits. This and a related property called “entanglement” would enable a quantum computer to efficiently solve certain problems that are intractable on normal computers.
Research on precise control of quantum systems occurs in many labs throughout the world, for fundamental research, new measurement techniques, and more recently for quantum information processing. I will briefly describe experiments on quantum state manipulation and atomic clocks that employ trapped atomic ions. This talk is, in part, the “story” of my involvement in these topics that I presented at the 2012 Nobel Prize ceremonies.
Previous Lectures in This Series
- 1992 Nobel laureate C. N. Yang: Considerations on Carbon 60
- 1993 Abraham Pais (1918-2000): George Uhlenbeck Remembered
- 1994 Nobel laureate Joseph Taylor: Binary Pulsars and Relativistic Gravity
- 1995 Nobel laureate T. D. Lee: Symmetry and Asymmetry
- 1996 Nobel laureate Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (1932-2007): Principles of Adhesion
- 1997 Paul C. W. Chu: The Path of Zero Resistance
- 1998 Benoit B. Mandelbrot (1924-2010): Fractals and Scale-Invariant Roughness in
- 1999 Nobel laureate Steven Chu: Seeing and Holding onto Atoms and Biological Molecules
- 2000 Nobel laureate Horst L. Stormer: Fractional Electronic Charges and other Tales from Flatland
- 2001 Freeman Dyson: Is Life Analog or Digital?
- 2002 David Wilkinson (1935-2002): The Cosmic Microwave Backround Radiation
- 2003 Sir Martin Rees: Where is Cosmology Going?
- 2004 Nobel laureate David J. Gross: Asymptotic Freedom and the Emergence of QCD (Or How I Won the Nobel Prize)
- 2005 Nobel laureate Anthony J. Leggett: Does the Everyday World Really Obey Quantum Mechanics?
- 2006 Nobel laureate Eric A. Cornell: Is Warm Glass More Sticky Than Cold Glass? Temperature and Casimir Force
- 2007 100th Birthday Celebration of the late Ta-You Wu: Distinguished Lecturer, Frank H. Shu, The Formation of Stars and Planetary Systems
- 2008 Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek: The Universe is a Strange Place
- 2009 Helen Quinn: Wandering Planets, Falling Apples, Curving Spaces, Whirling Stars: How Unraveling the Mysteries of Gravity Has Taught Us About the Universe.
- 2010 Nobel laureate Samuel C. C. Ting: An Experiment to Explore the Mysteries of Space: The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station
- 2011 Former Director of the Laboratoire d’ Optique Appliquée at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Technique Avancée & Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique (France) Gérard Mourou: Laser-Based High Energy Physics
- 2012 Nobel laureate David Wineland: Superposition, Entanglement, and Raising Schrödinger's Cat