Quantum Physics and the Culture of Possibility

I’m writing for the Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information in Bristol, UK this week, which means I’m learning some quantum physics. Although it was surprisingly difficult to find a resource that would tell me precisely WHAT quantum theory is, I eventually got on the trail.

The most excellent surprise of the day was coming across Professor Sandu Popescu from the University of Bristol in an on-line video (he’s the last video to the right).

He studies “the most fundamental aspects of quantum physics,” (Bingo!) and aside from explaining some of the basic stuff I needed to know, he left me with a precious gem of inspiration:

“If what you discover allows you to open new questions, new questions that were not the questions that you originally thought of . . . then you see the richness of the thing, and it means that what you originally did is important. That is the measure of success. If you just succeed in solving the problem that you wanted to solve in the first place, generally that is not so worthwhile.”

Don’t you love that?