This year I told people about quantum things, whether they liked it or not

All the quantumness, but with only a fraction of the maths

Dr James Wootton
Dec 20, 2016 · 5 min read

I’m a physicist working on quantum computation. This year I also had a mandate to do some outreach. I had to reign in the maths, and stop talking in Greek letters, but I think I managed to tell the public things they didn’t already know. Sometimes, they may have even wanted to know them.

I was still supposed to do my normal research too, designing the best ways to keep quantum technology free of noise. So I began with telling everyone all about that. I started with familiar principles, like the how we repeat ourselves when it’s noisy to make sure our message gets through. Then slowly and surely I moved to the quantum error correcting devices currently being built by IBM and Google.

But these devices just tell you when you have quantum mess and where it is. They give you a puzzle, and you need to solve it to clean things up. To explain how this is done, I moved to YouTube. I gathered a bunch of my colleagues and got them to help me make videos. Some of these colleagues were proper clever ones too.

It was during this era that I did an experiment. A real experiment, with the IBM quantum experience. Anyone can use it to play with an actual quantum processor. Even you! And even a theorist like me! So I did a video about that too.

Then finally we have the modern era. The Medium era. My recent articles are more general in scope. They are about quantum computers. But also about the anyons and quasiparticles that won this year’s Nobel prize. And Mariokart. And goombas.

Other things happened too, along the way. There were three AMAs on Reddit, answering questions from the public. Not just me, but with more colleagues that I managed to rope in. I still owe some of them a pint.

So there you go. I did a lot of keyboard bashing this year. I learnt a lot. I hope you do to.

Now, after a brief picture, the list begins…

Image for post
Image for post
Here’s a picture of a rainbow made out of a quantum computer. We’ll need a few more years of development before we can make unicorns too.

The Medium Era

The Blogger Era

The YouTube Era

AMAs on Reddit

Quantum Computing Lectures

I posted the slides for a course I teach on quantum computing.

That’s all for this year. I don’t get paid to do this kinda stuff next year, but I’m sure I’ll do it anyway. If you have ideas for what I should write about, or if you just want me to shut up, let me know.

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