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Astrophysics Colloquium

Quantum Entanglement: Recent Tests, New Applications
Presented by David Kaiser
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Thursday, March 14, 2019
11:00 A.M. in 169-336

Abstract
Albert Einstein once dubbed quantum entanglement "spooky action at a distance," and the concept remains one of the starkest examples of how quantum theory differs from our usual intutions about space, time, and matter. Physicists have tested Bell's inequality experimentally for over four decades, and have always found results consistent with quantum theory; today entanglement is at the heart of next-generation devices like quantum computers and quantum encryption. Yet every experimental test to date has been subject to one or more "loopholes," which could possibly account for the results even in the absence of genuine quantum entanglement. If entanglement were not a real feature of nature, then recent applications, like quantum key distribution for encryption, would not be as secure as expected. This talk describes the latest experimental tests of quantum entanglement, including the recent "Cosmic Bell" experiments that use some of the oldest light in the universe to address the last major loophole, providing some of the most compelling evidence to date that quantum entanglement is a robust feature of our world.

JPL Contact: Hien Nguyen (4-0560)

About the Speaker
David Kaiser is Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His award-winning books include Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics (2005), which traces how Richard Feynman's idiosyncratic approach to quantum theory became mainstream, and How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (2011), which focuses on physicists' efforts to understand strange phenomena like quantum entanglement. He co-directs a research group in early-universe cosmology within MIT's Center for Theoretical Physics, and also co-directs an international collaboration conducting new experiments to explore the foundations of quantum theory. A Fellow of the American Physical Society, Kaiser has received MIT's highest awards for excellence in teaching. His work has been featured in Science, Nature, the New York Times, and the New Yorker magazine, as well as on NOVA television programs, National Public Radio, and the BBC.


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