Home | About | Upcoming | Archives | Other PITP Archives | PITP

  7:30 pm, Wednesday, October 12
Fairmont Social lounge, St. John's College

Controlling the Future:
Lessons from Quantum Mechanics

Moshe Shapiro

University of British Columbia

Even though Newtonian Mechanics of large bodies is completely deterministic, our practical ability to predict the future, let alone control it, is a practical impossibility, because of "chaos". In contrast, for microscopic bodies (e.g., a molecule) where Quantum Mechanics reigns supreme, chaos does not exist! The wave equations then allow accurate prediction even for relatively long times. The catch is that these quantum waves only tell us what is likely to happen 'statistically'.

Recently we have shown how to use lasers to change this situation, using "coherent control", a concept now demonstrated experimentally in hundreds of cases. I shall discuss a number of these demonstrations, and argue that they shed light on the very act of measurement in quantum mechanics and on the connection between wave functions and probabilities.

Find out more about Moshe Shapiro at his webpage.

Additional resources for this talk: video, slides.