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Professor of quantum mechanical engineering MIT.

I study quantum information and quantum computation, a field in which communication and information-processing run into the fundamental laws of physics at high speed, with entertaining results. Probably the best known result in the field is Peter Shor’s discovery that quantum weirdness could be exploited to break most of the common codes used today. So quantum computers, if they can be built, will be a highly disruptive technology.

To my mind however, the greatest innovation in the field is the idea that we should think about the fundamental processes in physics in terms of information. So rather than just calculating energies and momenta, we should also measure the number of bits and see how fast they flip. This change in orientation has been particularly fruitful at the level of experiment in quantum optics, atomic physics, and solid state.  Now, also, the idea of `it from qubit’ is starting to provide insights into hard problems of theoretical physics, such as quantum gravity.