University of Connecticut

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Katzenstein Distinguished Lecture

Friday, October 24, 2014
4:00pm – 5:00pm

Storrs Campus
Gant Science Complex PB-36

Dr. David Wineland, University of Colorado, Boulder and NIST, 2012 Nobel Laureate in Physics

Superposition, Entanglement, and Raising Schrödinger’s Cat

In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger, one of the inventors of quantum mechanics, illustrated his discomfort with the theory by pointing out that its extension to the macroscopic world could lead to bizarre situations such as a cat being simultaneously alive and dead, a so-called superposition state. Today, we can create analogs of this situation, although on a small scale. Superposition states have various applications, for example to make clocks. Here, a superposition state of two energy levels creates an oscillating dipole, much like the oscillation in a pendulum clock, but much more precise. Superpositions are also potentially useful for computation, where a bit, composed of two energy levels in an atom, can store both states of the bit simultaneously. This property leads to a memory and processing capacity that increases exponentially with the number of bits. This and a related property called entanglement would enable a quantum computer to efficiently solve certain proble ms that are intractable on normal computers, and would realize a macroscopic version of Schrödinger’s cat. I will briefly describe experiments on quantum computation and atomic clocks that employ trapped atomic ions.

Refreshments will be prior to the talk, at 3:00pm, outside of Room PB-36.

More information available at:


University Events and Conference Services,, 860-486-1038

Physics Department (primary)

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