Patrick Hayden is a Professor of Physics at Stanford University.
“Growing up as a succession of technologies like personal computers, the internet, smart phones and social networks reordered play, work and communication, I was fascinated by the similarities and differences between the virtual and physical worlds. Eventually, I learned about quantum mechanics, the basic framework for physical laws, and was stunned by its strange implications, many of which seemed to be about the nature of knowledge and information. Understanding the role of information in physics eventually became my life’s work and I’ve never looked back. From quantum computers to the origins of space and time, information is everywhere (and invariably physical!).”
Decoding Spacetime: The Quantum Computational Universe
Transcribing human speech. Simulating global climate. Trouncing the world’s best Go players. The amazing versatility of modern computers disguises their fundamental simplicity. They are ultimately just machines for reading, comparing and overwriting bits. In the next few years, though, we will start to leave the world of bits behind. Computers exploiting the strangeness of quantum mechanics will soon accomplish tasks that would defeat even the largest, fastest bit-based supercomputers. Quantum computation isn’t just a technological advance, though. It could hold the key to explaining the origin of space itself. The same techniques that will be used to protect delicate quantum computer memories from corruption appear to be used by Nature to stitch together the fabric of spacetime. This talk will be a tour of this remarkable confluence of the practical and the fundamental.