ETH Zurich Blog: Educative and Entertaining History of How We Got to the ‘Second Quantum Revolution’
(ETH.Zurich.blog) ETH Zurich scientists helped shape quantum physics in the early 20th Century. A century on, they are taking leading roles in a second quantum revolution.
At ETH Zurich, some 20 professors are working in quantum science, collaborating in centres such as NCCR QSIT and the just-founded Zurich Quantum Centre. And the school is currently systematically expanding in the field of quantum technologies, for example by currently training its first generation of Quantum Engineers in a dedicated Master programme, one of the first worldwide.
What follows in this lengthy blog essay is an educational, sometimes amusing recount of the history of quantum information research and its legendary figures–sometimes with humorous asides. A recounting of the legend that Schrödinger’s main inspiration came when he spent a couple of weeks in the Swiss Alps with a ‘lady friend’— a setting that his friend Herman Weyl, mathematics professor at ETH and also a central figure in the history of quantum mechanics, referred to as a “late erotic outburst”.
This realisation was followed by further fundamental works and steady progress in the ability to isolate, measure and control single atoms, electrons and photons. Such capabilities have then been coupled with fresh concepts, such as the one that quantum mechanics enables more powerful processing of information than ‘pre-quantum theories’. Thus the gate to designing and realizing technologies based on quantum principles gradually opened. If history is any guide, there will now once again be unexpected treasures to discover as we venture into an era of quantum technologies.