Press Releases | Science

Lecture by world-renowned physicist brings quantum mechanics to the masses


DATE, TIME, PLACE: Tuesday September 9, 8:00 p.m., Hoyt Auditorium, River Campus

Anton Zeilinger, one of the world’s leading experts in the field of quantum optics, will present a free, public lecture Tuesday at the University of Rochester. The talk, titled “From Einstein’s Spook and Schrödinger’s Cat to Quantum Communication and Quantum Computation,” is designed to convey the exciting frontiers of quantum mechanics to a general audience.

Zeilinger, a professor of experimental physics at the University of Vienna and president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, has made tremendous contributions to our understanding of how the universe works at its most fundamental level. His innovative experiments have led to groundbreaking discoveries into such quantum phenomena as entanglement, a property that governs pairs of subatomic particles where manipulation of one particle has an instant effect on another. Most recently, Zeilinger’s research group exploited this property of two photons, the quantum of light, to create an image from a series of photons that never actually interacted with the object to be imaged. All the necessary information came from their entangled twins.

Zeilinger is well-known for pushing the boundaries of current knowledge. In the 1980s, he and his colleagues were the first to theorize—and later demonstrate in the lab—that it was possible to entangle more than two photons.  In a recent feat, Zeilinger led a group that successfully transmitted quantum states between entangled photons across two of Spain’s Canary Islands, separated by a distance of 90 miles.

This idea of quantum teleportation has a host of practical applications, including the development of ultra-secure ways to transmit confidential information. By using what’s called a “quantum key distribution,” a message could be encrypted on one photon and decrypted from the entangled photon. If a third party tried to interfere, the quantum system would collapse and reveal the security breach.

Zeilinger was awarded the Institute of Physics’ inaugural Isaac Newton medal in 2008 for “his pioneering conceptual and experimental contributions to the foundations of quantum physics, which have become the cornerstone for the rapidly-evolving field of quantum information.” He writes about the weirdness of quantum physics, and the experiments confirming its reality, in his 2010 book Dance of the Photons: From Einstein to Quantum Teleportation.

For more on Anton Zeilinger, read his profiles in Scientific American and Seed Magazine, and an interview with Discover.

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