Caltech Physicist to Deliver Public Lecture on Quantum Computing

By Jenny Wells

The University of Kentucky will host a public talk on campus next week by John Preskill, the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics and director of the Institute of Quantum Information and Matter at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

The talk, “Quantum Computing and the Entanglement Frontier,” will take place 4:15 p.m. Friday, April 6, at the Don & Cathy Jacobs Science Building Room 121.

Preskill's talk will be the 17th annual van Winter Lecture.  The van Winter Lectures were established in 2001 to honor the memory of Clasine van Winter, who held a professorship in the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1968 until her retirement in 1999.  This year's van Winter Lecture is jointly sponsored by the UK Department of Physics and Astronomy, the UK Department of Computer Scienceand the UK Graduate School.

In his talk, Preskill will discuss quantum entanglement, the elusive feature that makes quantum information fundamentally different from information in the macroscopic world. Preskill describes himself as “less weird than a quantum computer, and easier to understand.”

“The quantum laws governing atoms and other tiny objects seem to defy common sense, and information encoded in quantum systems has weird properties that baffle our feeble human minds,” he said. “By exploiting quantum entanglement, quantum computers should be able to solve otherwise intractable problems, with far-reaching applications to cryptology, materials and fundamental physical science.”

“Preskill is an extraordinarily clear and insightful speaker,” said Al Shapere, chair of UK’s physics and astronomy department. “His talk will be a wonderful opportunity for the community to learn about quantum computing, an emerging technology that will lead to radical improvements in the power and capabilities of computers.”

The event is open to the UK community and public. School children interested in science are encouraged to attend. A reception will follow the talk.

John Preskill received his doctoral degree in physics in 1980 from Harvard University, and joined the Caltech faculty in 1983. He began his career in particle physics and cosmology, but in the 1990s he got excited about the possibility of solving otherwise intractable problems by exploiting quantum physics; he is especially intrigued by the ways our deepening understanding of quantum information and quantum computing can be applied to other fundamental issues in physics, such as the quantum structure of space and time.

For more information, contact the UK Department of Physics and Astronomy at 859-257-3770. 

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue


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