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Meet the Authors: Quantum Steampunk: The Physics of Yesterday's Tomorrow

Quantum information science is the study of how we can use quantum physics to process information in ways impossible with everyday hardware. This field has been burgeoning throughout industry, geopolitics, academia, and even Hollywood. Despite its prevalence, though, quantum information science has a reputation for being baffling and incomprehensible. This webinar based on the book Quantum Steampunk: The Physics of Yesterday's Tomorrow, will progress from the basics of bits to today's rudimentary quantum processors and beyond, to the full-scale quantum computers anticipated decades from now. Furthermore, quantum information science is being used to modernize thermodynamics -- the study of energy -- which matured alongside Babbage's computers during the 1800s. This modernization, the author argues, is the real-world incarnation of steampunk, a literary, artistic, and cinematographic genre that combines Victorian aesthetics with futuristic technologies. In the book, the author illustrates this thesis with the energy cost of irreversible computation-- and with how quantum physics undermines our intuitions about that cost. At the intersection of information science, quantum physics, and thermodynamics, steampunk has come to life in today's research.


Nicole Yunger Halpern is a theoretical physicist and a Fellow for the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science at the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Her research group wields the mathematical toolkit of quantum information theory, which illuminates how we can leverage quantum physics to process information in ways impossible for everyday hardware. Yunger Halpern's book, Quantum Steampunk: The Physics of Yesterday's Tomorrow, won the PROSE Award for popular science and mathematics. Yunger Halpern completed her physics PhD at Caltech in 2018, winning the international Ilya Prigogine Prize for thermodynamics thesis. While an ITAMP Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University, she won the International Quantum Technology Emerging Researcher Award. Yunger Halpern blogs monthly for Quantum Frontiers; her posts number over 100 and have been highlighted by Nature Briefing and other mainstream media venues. Follow her on Twitter @nicoleyh11.

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