The Wonderful Weirdness of Quantum Theory: Testing Some Bizarre Features of our Most Precise Scientific Theory
with David Kaiser
Thursday, March 25, 2021 • Thursday, April 1, 2021 • Thursday, April 8, 2021
4 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Apply or nominate a worthy colleague here.
Quantum theory is the most precise scientific theory ever devised. After a full century of efforts, no experiment has yet found a flaw in its predictions; in some instances, predictions from the theory match careful experimental measurements all the way out to twelve decimal places. Yet the description of the world offered by quantum theory remains stubbornly strange: a solid world reduced to puffs of probability; particles that tunnel through walls; cats suspended in zombie-like states (neither alive nor dead), and twinned particles that share entangled fates. In this master class, we will learn about some of the most recent tests of quantum theory, which highlight—and confirm—some of the theory’s most bizarre features.
This is a three-session master class. In the first two sessions, teachers learn from the master. In the third, participants have a rare and valuable opportunity to exchange ideas with other brilliant teachers. Participants are assigned a small amount of homework to prepare for each session.
David Kaiser is Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of several award-winning books about modern physics, including How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival. His latest book, Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World, was honored as among the best books of the year by Physics Today and Physics World magazines. A Fellow of the American Physical Society, Kaiser has received MIT’s highest awards for excellence in teaching. His work has been featured in Science, Nature, TheNew York Times, and The New Yorker. His group’s recent efforts to conduct a “Cosmic Bell” test of quantum entanglement were featured in a documentary film, Einstein’s Quantum Riddle, which premiered on PBS in 2019.