Quantum Week at Yale is aimed at beginners and experts alike

Yale’s Center for Quantum Research will soon engage the campus – in the best sense – in a whole week of mind-blowing science, artistry, and discussions dedicated to the wonders of quantum research.

Organized by the Yale Quantum Institute (YQI), Quantum Week at Yale includes a hackathon, lab tour, film screening, disk launch party, hands-on computer programming, presentation of superconducting jewelry, and a selection of quantum-related library and museum exhibits.

The activities start on April 8th and last until April 14th. A full list of events can be found here.

Yale’s quantum scientists are at the forefront of this field,” said Florian Carle, YQI manager and event coordinator. “We want to share some of the excitement we’re seeing in the labs and at YQI with the rest of campus.”

Florian Carle, Manager of the Yale Quantum Institute, is the organizer of Quantum Week at Yale Events. (Photo by Lotta Studio)

Quantum science deals with the physical properties that explain the behavior of subatomic particles, atoms, and molecules. Over the past century, quantum research has transformed disciplines as diverse as physics, engineering, mathematics, chemistry, computer science and materials science.

Over the past 20 years, Yale researchers have advanced quantum research, particularly in quantum information science and quantum computing, with a number of groundbreaking discoveries — including the first demonstration of two-qubit algorithms using a superconducting quantum processor.

Yale’s research has led to unprecedented control over individual quantum objects, whether those objects are naturally occurring microscopic systems, such as atoms, or macroscopic, man-made systems with engineered properties. Researchers say these advances could soon enable them to perform otherwise elusive computations, ensure privacy in communications, better understand and design novel states of matter, and develop new types of sensors and gauges.

This is the time when computer scientists, mathematicians, physicists and engineers come together,” said Yongshan Ding, an assistant professor of computer science, who will lead a programming workshop on April 14 that will show visitors — even those with no experience of quantum computing — how to get started with Quantum interference patterns “plays”.

People can just code away,” Ding said. “My vision is that by exposing humans to these activities, we can develop a quantum-native programming language. This is a new paradigm of computation, so we need new ways to code for it.”

YQI partnered with 18 Yale departments and centers to organize 23 events for Yale’s Quantum Week. One of the challenges in organizing the week, explained Carle, was developing an engaging mix of activities that would suit both experienced researchers and those new to quantum science.

To this end, the week is organized around four components: Understanding Quantum, Art & Quantum, Career and Entrepreneurship and For Researchers.

For example, the hands-on programming event has the motto “Understanding Quantum”. Others include a Quantum Coalition Hack April 9-10 hosted by the Yale Undergraduate Quantum Computer Club; a tour of superconducting qubit labs on April 11; and a quantum-related rare book exhibition at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library on April 11.

We’re always looking for ways for our libraries to get involved in the academic work at Yale,” said Andrew Shimp, who consulted on Quantum Week events at Yale Libraries. Shimp is Yale’s Librarian for Engineering, Applied Science, Chemistry and Mathematics. “One of the unique things that a library at Yale can offer is the opportunity to see rare collections that are not necessarily digitized yet.”

For example, the Quantum Exhibition in the Beinecke Library includes materials from pioneers of quantum science such as Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg and Max Planck. There is also a textbook on astronomy published in 1511 that has the word “quantum” in its title. The title is “Textus de Sphera Johannis de Sacrobosco: cum additione (quantum necessarium est) adiecta / Nouo commentario nuper edito ad vtilitate[m] studentiu[m] Philosophy Parisien[em].” A short English translation would be “Sphere of Sacrobosco”.

Under the heading “Art & Quantum” the indie thriller “Coherence” from 2013 will be shown on April 8; a visual arts competition called “Visualize Science” hosted by Wright Lab on April 13; a launch party for Quantum Sound (a record project started at YQI in 2018) on April 13; an exhibition of “Superconducting Jewelry” during the week at YQI; a ‘Quantum and the Arts’ exhibition throughout the week in the Art Library; an April 13 event dedicated to the historical preservation of technological ephemera, hosted by the Yale Schwarzman Center, entitled “Dumpster Diving: Historical Memory and Quantum Physics at Yale”; and a new exhibit at the New Haven Museum, The Quantum Revolution, opening April 13, featuring drawings by former YQI artist Martha Willette Lewis.

Badger, the dilution fridge
Badger, the dilution fridge that ran the first two-qubit algorithms with a superconducting quantum processor. (Photo by Jessica Smolinski)

Carle is curator of the exhibition at the New Haven Museum. “We wanted to show the development of quantum science at Yale,” he said. “It will take people from some of the first qubits in 1998 to Badger, the dilution refrigerator that ran the first two-qubit algorithms with a superconducting quantum processor in 2009.”

Quantum computers require extremely low temperatures – close to absolute zero – to reduce operational errors.

The Career and Entrepreneurship component of the week includes a discussion on quantum startups hosted by the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (Tsai CITY) on April 12; a conversation with IBM’s Mark Ritter on the global implications of quantum research, hosted by the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs on April 12; an April 12 session hosted by the Yale University Library on access to market research for major industry analysts; and a series of panel discussions on how to become part of the quantum working world.

Finally, the “For Researchers” component of Quantum Week at Yale on April 8 will include a quantum sensing workshop at the Wright Lab; and an April 14 lecture by quantum researcher Nathan Wiebe of the University of Washington.

The final day of Quantum Week at Yale, April 14, also happens to be World Quantum Day,” Carle said. “We hope that by then, students across campus will know that quantum work is being done here — and want to explore it for themselves in some way.”

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