Hello and happy Thursday! This week marks the 62nd anniversary of the first working laser, demonstrated by physicist Theodore Maiman at Hughes Research Labs in Malibu, California. Cool fact: Maiman later benefited very practically from his invention when he underwent laser surgery in 2000. Speaking of lasers, did you know that they’re based on the quantum mechanical process of “stimulated emission?” Yeah, me either, until the Ol ‘Google machine served that factoid up after searching for “cool laser facts.” (This is how the sausage is made, folks).
Anyway, the Biden administration is taking two new steps to advance American quantum computing and I thought I’d provide a “question and answer” primer on the science and why it has such significant national security implications. This stuff is basically magic but if you hang with me, I promise you’ll be fascinated.
“Ok nerd-boy, get on with it. What’s ‘quantum mechanics’?”
Quantum mechanics is the governing hypothesis of how nature works at the level of atoms and subatomic particles like photons. The word “quantum” refers to the notion that all energy, light, and matter is composed of discrete units, or quanta.