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CQT organises the Unspeakable Series of public talks on quantum physics and other scientific topics.

Why "unspeakable"? Quantum physics predicts that a particle such as an atom can exist without well-defined properties — even a location — until an experiment is performed. Before the experiment, the atom is not only in an unknown state but an unknowable one! The physicist John Bell was one of those who worried about such matters through the middle of the 20th century (physicists continue to ponder the philosophy of quantum physics). Bell's papers are collected in the classic book "Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics".

Please register for talks using the link in the talk description. If you'd like to be informed about upcoming events, sign up for our public events mailing list here.


CQT is a creative partner of the NUS Arts Festival 2016: WONDER, presented by NUS Centre For the Arts. Please see the full programme of events at www.nusartsfestival.com. Events include a talk and book launch on 22 March by science writer George Musser, author of Spooky Action at a Distance and a former writer-in-residence of the Centre.


Past talks:

2015
John Morton talk poster, 2015

Silicon chips with quantum insides?

For over half a century, silicon has been the material platform for the information processing revolution that has transformed our society. From Silicon Valley to Silicon Straits, this humble material has become synonymous with high-tech enterprise driven by the ever increasing computation power and shrinking size of CMOS processors... So far, we have every reason to think that silicon will survive the next big computational leap, from the classical to the quantum age.

Alain Aspect talk poster, 2015.

Maxwell's wave or Einstein's LichtQuanten? The weirdness of light

Since the early days of quantum mechanics, interference between spatially separated trajectories of a single particle has not ceased to fascinate physicists. I will present experiments realized with a single photon, which have allowed us to emphasize the weirdness of the concept of wave particle duality, at the root of the quantum revolution of the 20th century. Such single photon sources are now an important resource in the domain of quantum information and quantum cryptography.

Scott Aaronson talk poster, 2015

Quantum Computing and the Limits of the Efficiently Computable

The talk covers how computational complexity &endash; the study of what can and can't be feasibly computed &endash; has been interacting with physics in interesting and unexpected ways. This will include a crash course about computer science's P vs. NP problem, as well as about the capabilities and limits of quantum computers. It will also include critical discussion of speculative models of computation that would go even beyond quantum computers, using (for example) special relativity and time travel to the past.

2014
Charles Clark talk poster, 2014

Over the Rainbow: The Other World Seen by Animals

Much of what we understand about the world comes from our eyes, which sense the colors from red to violet that are expressed in the rainbow. Yet we know that this patch of colors is just a small island in the vast electromagnetic spectrum, which extends from radio waves to gamma rays. Two unseen regions of great importance to us are those just over and just under the rainbow - the infrared and ultraviolet, respectively. These were discovered about 200 years ago in inspired experiments that anyone can understand, originally conducted by Frederick William Herschel and Johann Wilhelm Ritter. Only recently has it come to be understood that a variety of animals live in a visual world totally unfamiliar to us, particularly in the ultraviolet. Charles Clark will discuss this from the perspective of measurement science, and demonstrate other influences of the ultraviolet in technology, astronomy and climate change.

Michael Brooks talk poster, 2014.

At The Edge of Uncertainty

The atom. The Big Bang. DNA. Natural selection. All ideas that have revolutionised science – and that were dismissed out of hand when they first appeared. The surprises haven’t stopped: there's a whole new wave of unexpected insights that are shaping the future of scientific discovery. There are the cosmological observations that might rewrite the history of the universe, novel biological ideas behind our will to live, the possibility that humans are quantum beings, that women and men need entirely different medicines, that the cosmos is a computer (with us as the programmers), that time is an illusion, and that merging humans with other species is a good idea. In this Café, Michael Brooks will explore the new – and sometimes, old – ideas taking science by surprise.

2013
The Elusive Higgs Particle by José Ignacio Latorre.

The Elusive Higgs Particle

This café will explain why the standard model of particle physics needed a final ingredient: the Higgs boson. The Higgs, sometimes known as the "God particle", was conjured to give all other particles their masses. It was predicted in 1964 but all experiments to detect it failed for 4 decades. A collective effort to construct the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN has finally succeeded in finding the Higgs particle. The discovery was confirmed only a few months ago. This is a wonderful story about intelligent human collaboration and the universality of science.

Poster for Superposition, Entanglement, and Raising Schrödinger’s Cat talk by David Wineland.

Superposition, Entanglement, and Raising Schrödinger’s Cat

Research on precise control of quantum systems occurs in many laboratories throughout the world, for fundamental research, new measurement techniques, and more recently for quantum information processing. David Wineland will briefly describe experiments on quantum state manipulation of atomic ions at NIST, which serve as examples of similar work being performed with many other atomic, molecular, optical (AMO) and condensed matter systems across the world. This talk is in part of the "story" of his involvement that he presented at the 2012 Nobel Prize ceremonies.

2012
Poster for Physicist in the Kitchen talk by Andrey Varlamov.

Physicist in the kitchen: Exploring the gastronomic Universe

Gain added enjoyment in eating by learning about the physics of food. This talk will cover many questions in the gastronomic universe, such as the difference between pizza baking in the traditional wood oven and in the electric one (hint: it has to do with how heat propagates in media), the mechanism of heat transfer in microwave oven, why the tastes of boiled meet and grilled meat are so different, how to scientifically calculate the cooking time of a soft-boiled duck egg or spaghetti, how beer foam forms, why a cheers with crystal glasses filled by sparkling wine is not accompanied by nice canorous sound, why vodka usually contains around 40% alcohol, how professional barmen vary the degree of coffee beans grounding depending on weather, and many more.

Poster for the Rise of the Quantum Age talk by Gilles Brassard.

Rise of the Quantum Age

Quantum mechanics is perhaps the most profound revolution ever to occur in our understanding of Nature. While born with last century, it appeared for many decades to be just a game, played by physicists strictly for the sake of advancing pure knowledge, without any impact on everyday life. And then, quantum mechanics gave birth to the transistor, and society was transformed forever. The physicists' "game" ushered in the Information Age, which is the signature of the 20th century, just as the 19th century was the Machine Age. But we are poised to experience a second quantum revolution in which the full power of the quantum world will be unleashed in ways never before thought possible, transmitting and processing information with unconditionally secure communication and computers powerful beyond imagination. Indeed, the 21st century will go down in history as the Quantum Age.

Poster for When Scientists do Extraordinary Things talk by Michael Brooks.

When scientists do extraordinary things

From Galileo to Einstein and beyond, scientists have always gained their reputations by making sense of anomalies. Science is a process of finding something that doesn't make sense, then trying to work out why. But once you have found something that seems intriguingly strange, what do you do? That's up to you! Whether you are making sense of the universe or finding a way to heal the human body, you may have to do things that seem mad, bad or extremely dangerous. In this café, renowned science writer Michael Brooks will explain the extraordinary lengths some scientists go to in order to win a Nobel