Quantum & Pop Culture

Tuesday, September 29, 2020 12:30 pm - 12:30 pm EDT

Phys10 Undergraduate Seminar Series - on Teams

John Donohue
Institute for Quantum Computing

“Quantum physics” has taken its position with “rocket science” in pop culture as a shorthand for frighteningly complicated science. Quantum physics has also taken on a sort of magical connotation in fiction, with features like entanglement, superposition, and tunneling spurring imagination. But how much is joyful speculation, and how much is disregard for reality? And if it’s always seen as either magical or scary, how does that affect the perception of quantum science? In this talk, we’ll examine how quantum is portrayed in film, TV, games, and books, exploring their interpretation before diving into what the science actually says. We’ll see what Mass Effect has to say about entanglement, what Futurama has to say about superposition, what Transformers has to say about quantum computing, and more.

John Donohue is the head of Scientific Outreach at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC). He obtained his PhD in Physics from the University of Waterloo in 2016 with a research speciality in quantum optics, ultrafast laser physics, and entanglement.

This talk is geared toward an upper year audience; as always, everyone is welcome to attend.