November 3, 2017
Colloquium Speaker: Jeffrey Bub
Jeffrey Bub (PhD, London) is a Distinguished University Professor and philosopher of physics with a special interest in the conceptual foundations of quantum theory. He has published more than 100 articles in scientific and scholarly journals and is the author of three books: Bananaworld: Quantum Mechanics for Primates (Oxford University Press, 2016), Interpreting the Quantum World (Cambridge University Press, 1997; revised paperback edition, 1999), which won the prestigious Lakatos Award in 1998 for providing a unified reconstruction and systematic assessment of quantum mechanics, and The Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (Reidel, 1974). He has held numerous visiting positions, most recently (in 2011) as Templeton Research Fellow at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, University of Vienna. His current research is focused on quantum foundations and quantum information. He was awarded the Kirwan Faculty Research and Scholarship Prize in 2005 for his work in this area.
What on earth do bananas have to do with quantum mechanics? From a modern perspective, quantum mechanics is about strangely counterintuitive correlations between separated systems, which can be exploited in feats like quantum teleportation, unbreakable cryptographic schemes, and computers with enormously enhanced computing power. Schrödinger coined the term "entanglement" to describe these bizarre correlations. Bananaworld -- an imaginary island with "entangled" bananas -- brings to life the fascinating discoveries of the new field of quantum information without the mathematical machinery of quantum mechanics. The connection with quantum correlations is fully explained in sections written for the non-physicist reader with a serious interest in understanding the mysteries of the quantum world. The result is a subversive but entertaining book that is accessible and interesting to a wide range of readers, with the novel thesis that quantum mechanics is about the structure of information. What we have discovered is that the possibilities for representing, manipulating, and communicating information are very different than we thought.