Weekly Takeaways: World Quantum Day 2023 Edition
Updated: Jun 19
Theme of the Week
Happy World Quantum Day! Two days ago we celebrated Yuri's Night by looking at the advances in the space industry since 1961. Today we celebrate World Quantum Day, designated to promote "public awareness and understanding of quantum science and technology around the world." April 14 isn't the anniversary of a major event, but a fun reference to the first digits of Planck’s constant (4.14 ×10−15 electronvolt seconds), the same way 3/14 is "Pi Day". There isn't a major anniversary to celebrate because there was no "first human in space" type of event to memorialize; quantum mechanics was developed through a combination of research, papers, thought and lab experiments, and rigorous debate over the last century. A lot of the early concepts were initially met with skepticism, but through this process, we have reached the point where we are manipulating the quantum properties of particles for practical and amazing applications. We are now in the midst of the Second Quantum Revolution. Quantum Technologies All quantum technologies leverage quantum properties and can be broken into three main branches:
Quantum Computing – a new (but fundamentally different) type of computer that leverages the quantum properties of particles to create qubits that could solve previously intractable problems.
Quantum Sensing (also sometimes referred to as Quantum Metrology) – uses the quantum properties of particles for very stable clocks and sensitive inertial, electromagnetic, gravity, and magnetic field sensors.
Quantum Communications (also sometimes referred to as Quantum Networking) – leverage the quantum properties of photons (particles of light) for applications like quantum random number generation (useful for cryptography), quantum key distribution (the secure distribution of encryption keys), and Xairos’ focus: quantum time transfer (secure and accurate timing for PNT and networking applications).
The Quantum Arms Race The incredible applications enabled by quantum technologies has created a sort of global quantum arms race, with $30B of sovereign funding in quantum research (according to QURECA) in 2022 across the globe:
The United States:
Focused on quantum networks and post-quantum cryptography, with the announcement of new quantum funding.
New quantum testbeds were announced as part of public-private partnerships to develop quantum networks and research, including the EPB Quantum Network in Tennessee, the Washington Metropolitan Quantum Network Research Consortium (DC-QNet), the Chicago Quantum Exchange, and NY Quantum Internet Testbed.
The Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act to develop “encryption strong enough to resist attacks from quantum computers” was signed into law.
The European Commission (EC) announced two quantum network initiatives, the Quantum Internet Alliance and the HYPERSPACE research project, as well as a plan for a broadband constellation that will “leverage quantum encryption to secure the network.”
The European Space Agency and SES announced the Eagle-1 quantum satellite.
By some estimates (including recent McKinsey and Deloitte reports) China was the leader in global quantum funding. A recent report claims that “China has a 'stunning lead' over the US in the research of 37 out of 44 critical and emerging technologies,” including quantum communications and quantum sensors.
China’s public spending on quantum is four times higher than the US.
US private investment in quantum is over 1350% higher than in China.
There are over 10x the number of quantum startups and 6x quantum investors in the US to China.
Interestingly, China holds over 30% quantum patents than the US. However, the patents resided in the US are accredited in globally respected journals for their scientific impact and innovation.
China is also rolling out a quantum network extending across the country.
UK -released their $2.5B National Quantum Strategy.
Australia - released their vision of a quantum future.
India - allocated over $1B towards a National Mission on Quantum Technology and Applications (NMQTA), including a national quantum communication network.
Taiwan - announced plans to invest $273M in quantum technology development.
Russia – announced they are setting up a National Quantum Laboratory.
The Quantum Divide The downside of this development: the growing quantum divide between the quantum haves (the 17 countries that are investing in quantum research) from the have-nots (everyone else). The World Economic Forum (WEF) believes that "quantum technology will exponentially accelerate the Fourth Industrial Revolution," and has raised calls for greater cooperation in quantum research between countries. And the Nobel Prize goes to... ...Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger, who were jointly award the 2022 Nobel Prize for their groundbreaking “experiments utilizing entangled photons to resolve a long-standing debate in the early history of quantum mechanics." That debate: the famous "spooky action at a distance" question that was settled with brilliant experiments that demonstrated Bell's inequality. Entanglement as a consequence of quantum mechanics was pointed out and elaborated on by Albert Einstein and colleagues in the famous 1935 EPR paper. But Einstein found the idea of nonlocal entanglement, the so-called “spooky action at a distance”, deeply problematic since, while it doesn't directly violate relativity, it certainly violates the spirit of local influences and causes at the conceptual heart of relativity. Because of this Einstein favored the idea that a local hidden variable was at work such that quantum mechanics was an incomplete description of reality resulting from an averaging over these local hidden variables. Nearly 30 years later, the physicist John Stewart Bell derived a mathematical relation, known as the Bell inequality, that demonstrated that any such local hidden variable theory could not reproduce all of the predictions of quantum mechanics. Thus, Bell's theorem said it was possible in principle to experimentally test if the actual world corresponds to the predictions of quantum mechanics or of some deeper theory that uses local, hidden variables. What seemed to be a philosophical question was now potentially an experimental one. However, "Bell’s inequality, while massively significant as a theoretical construct, was not at first of much use experimentally; the result itself of a thought experiment, it couldn’t be squared with practical detector technology. The three 2022 physics laureates found ways to circumvent those difficulties, and to advance studies of entanglement firmly into the realm of experimental science." It is important to note that all of the progress that has been made in quantum information science and quantum technologies owes a huge debt to all of these pioneers that dared to seriously ask such a fundamental question about reality, and who were not dissuaded by accusations of the worthlessness of their research by many of their influential contemporaries. Want to Learn More? To learn more about:
the "fascinating world of quantum computing," check out the Qureka! Box.
quantum investment, check out The Quantum Insider Quantum Intelligence Platform.
the quantum marketplace, check out the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C).
US quantum development, check out National Quantum Initiative.