Every now and then, an area of research becomes so promising and complex, that coordinating the efforts of individual researchers accelerates progress towards groundbreaking discoveries. In that light, the Division of Physics at the National Science Foundation introduced the Physics Frontiers Centers to tap into the collective intelligence and skills of, otherwise, autonomous research groups.

Chalkboard outside Annenberg

Outside the Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology. Photo by L. Hayashida.

The Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM) at Caltech is the newest Physics Frontiers Center supported by the National Science Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Here at IQIM, we study physical systems in which the weirdness of the quantum world becomes manifest on macroscopic scales. Our work spans a wide range of cutting edge research, from superconductivity and nanotechnology, to exotic phases of matter and quantum computation!

As a Physics Frontiers Center, we are tasked with moving science forward, often against seemingly insurmountable obstacles. From the outside, the progress we make resembles sudden bursts of genius. But real science is much more than a series of Eureka! moments strung together. Through personal accounts highlighting the experimental and theoretical progress here at IQIM, we plan to take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of the fascinating research we get to do everyday…

14 thoughts on “About

  1. Sean Carroll posted a link to one of your posts on Google+. Great post (about qubits). I’d like to follow this blog. But it doesn’t seem to have an RSS stream. So I can’t put it into my Google Reader. The Follow link at the top seems to put it into a WordPress reader, which has nothing but this blog. Any chance of making is more generally accessible?


    • Dear Blue cat, have you tried the drop-down menu with the option to subscribe through Google? The menu is found on the page that links to our feed at the top right of our blog. Please let me know if this works for you.

      • The page that links to your feed at the top right of your blog? Which page? All the pages I see from your blog have New Post, my name, and a search box at the top right? The top left has a Follow option, but that just subscribes me to a WordPress feature. Is there some other page not on the blog but that links to the blog that I should be looking at?

  2. Besides this, could there be other benefits of teleportation, and is it possible to teleport raw materials? Could you publish an article about this?

  3. Quantum mechanics at its simplest boils down to this equation:

    DeltaE = nh

    h is a very small but still finite number.

    What would this be for classical (i.e. non-“weird”) mechanics? Wouldn’t it be the same except that h would be an infinitesimal? In this case DeltaE could never be anything other than an infinitesimal. Is this equivalent to Parmenides’ paradox wherein he brands all change as logically impossible? From my perspective this is a lot weirder than quantum mechanics.

    How would have Parmenides responded to quantized change?

  4. My name is Michael, from Montreal.

    I’m writing a book that will be placed in the “far future”.

    During my research I came across your blog, and I have to say that I enjoy it very much. I will have to get back to in in more detail later.

    Long story short, I was wondering if you would be kind enough to answer few questions? I’m unable to find the answers and hope that you might help:

    1. After a free neutrino has turned into something, can it be turned into something else after its first “decision” (and into what if its possible- if not why not), and if it is possible what would be hypothetical catalyst for that change be?

    2. How do we define a “quantum process” exactly? I’m referring to a process that turns, for example. a down quark into a up quark and a W- ? I’m aware that the term is still unclear, but hope to understand more.

    3. Since only “observance” makes a neutrino change it’s nature from all into one, how do we explain the existence of electrons etc? What, apart from our interaction is actually interacting with neutrinos? Is it therefore another catalyst, not yet discovered?

    I honestly hope that my questions didn’t bother you too much.

    Hoping for your answers,

    • You hit the heart of the quantum paradox.

      The “Copenhagen” philosophy says that observation drives the change, but fails to define how an observation differs from an interaction. One could say that the observation requires an observer. What defines an observer? Can the neutrino observe itself? Does the observer have to be alive and conscious? Does physics have definitions for “life” and “consciousness”? Without these definitions “Copenhagen” is an incomplete theory.

      “Many Worlds” gets around these problems by eliminating observation. There is no choice. Everything happens. Every unique outcome generates an entire new universe. We observe what we observe because what we observe is part of our consciousness once we observe it. The observer of the anti-electron neutrino is defined by having observed the anti-electron neutrino and inhabits a universe that includes the anti-electron neutrino. She has a sister in another universe that observed the electron neutrino and the electron neutrino is part of that universe.

      In my opinion this is a highly unsatisfying philosophy. As far as I can tell this is all that the physics community has to offer at the present time.

      I was raised in a household that used science to explain everything. I was not raised with any religion. When science falls short like this it makes me rather motivated to come up with something of my own. Here it is:

      Objects are psychophysical entities, not physical. Color is a good example of a psychophysical entity. Color depends on you eye as much as at does external light. The “physical” aspect of light is electromagnetic vibration. My philosophy states that every psychophysical entity has a corresponding physical entity. Psychophysical entities cannot be the same as physical entities.
      Quantized action is a good physical counterpart to the psychophysical object. Try to find an object not correlated to the action of its creation. I believe this explains causality.

      Objects are mental bookkeeping when evaluating events at human and near human scales. This bookkeeping strategy was an evolutionary development. At far from human scales this strategy does not work.

      The actions are real. The actors as separate stand-alone entities are not.

      How do you think my philosophy stands up? The competition is pretty weak.

  5. Pingback: Blog - physicsworld.com

    • Any new theory must start with these things:
      1. A list of observations/measurements not explained by orthodox theories.
      2. At least one falsification scenario.

      All I see for #1 is a bunch of polygons of various quality and certainty. There must be other phenomena implied by the “theory”.

      Can you derive repulsive “dark energy” from this? “Dark matter”? These aren’t explained by orthodox theories.

      What orthodox theories would this supplant? How would it impact the “standard model”?

      Don’t forget Occam’s razor: “Do not multiply entities beyond necessity.” Ptolemy’s celestial spheres fit fairly well with planetary observations, but Newton got better results with a single equation.

  6. Sooo… I am trying to add a citation to a Wikipedia page that is about Quantum Information. Googling has lead me to you. If you have a moment to spare, perhaps you can point me in the right direction. The paragraph that needs a citation is “Quantum information can be transmitted through quantum channels. These have finite capacity and are analogous to the classical case, described by the noisy-channel coding theorem which defines the maximum channel capacity of a classical communications channel. An important breakthrough for the theory of quantum information occurred when quantum error correction codes and fault-tolerant quantum computation schemes were discovered[citation needed]”

    You know what they say, citation or it didn’t happen.


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