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Home » Can We Make Quantum Technology Work: Leo Kouwenhoven (Transcript)

Can We Make Quantum Technology Work: Leo Kouwenhoven (Transcript)

Leo Kouwenhoven is a professor in Applied Physics specialized in the field of Quantum NanoScience. His team at the QU Tech Lab designs experiments to place electrons in superpositions.

Here is the full text of Leo’s talk titled “Can we make quantum technology work?” at TEDxAmsterdam.


Good morning, everybody.

Does anybody recognize the picture behind me? What is it? That computer — it was in fact, a mechanical computer, the computer that was used by Alan Turing, which helped to end the Second World War.

What is interesting is that here the wheels are turned, and by registering clicks and no clicks, they could break encrypted messages. So it’s a mechanical motion that actually can do some calculations for us.

Now we use of course electronic computers, where electrical signals encode for our bits zeros and ones. But clicks or no clicks, or zeros and ones, actually is the same principle for encoding information, no difference between the Turing machine and our computers.

What is amazing is that — and what happened in the last 50-60 years is that this machine now  fits around your wrist, and it sells as a SmartWatch – the same computing power. Anybody else who has a SmartWatch here? I see a few. Aha! So you fell for the same commercial as I did, I guess.

But it’s smaller, and you see that the revolution in making things smaller is very visible, but what is maybe even more amazing is that the underlying principles of the Turing machine of clicks and no clicks, and in my SmartWatch, it’s still the same; that has not changed – clicks or no clicks, zeros or ones.

Some time ago, a very interesting new idea started to become popular. And there’s not really a single inventor, and in fact, it is not really an invention, it’s rather a change of perspective and the idea is that nature also calculates.

For instance, when light hits a green leaf, it induces all kinds of chemistry, which at the end of the chemistry reaction, it produces oxygen among other things. And the process in between the input light and the output oxygen can be viewed as a calculation.

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