The Quantum Track:


In this track, we will share ideas and information about Quantum Mechanics structured as follows:

Quantum Mechanics at School:

There are 3 programs being developed for promoting awareness of and instilling an interest in Quantum Mechanics at the School stage.

QT02: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics: is a course equivalent to 24 lectures for School students that will run over a month ( 4 weeks, 6 days a week), every month beginning on the first Monday of the month.

The default mode for both these courses is through WhatsApp but in cases where it is feasible it could also be delivered as a face to face course.

MLL13: Understanding the Quantum World :

A weeklong WhatsApp course on introductory Quantum Mechanics:

Concept note:

Teaching Quantum Mechanics at School:

Why teach Quantum Mechanics at School ? 

Sir John Ziman began the Preface of his well known book “ Principles of the Theory of Solids” (1964 edition),with the following opening lines:

“ The frontiers of knowledge ( to coin a phrase) are always on the move. Today’s discovery will tomorrow be part of the mental furniture of every research worker. By the end of next week it will be in every course of graduate lectures . Within a month there will be a clamour to have it in the undergraduate curriculum. Next year, I do believe, it will seem so commonplace that it may be assumed to be known to every schoolboy.”

It is now common to teach all School students Newton’s laws of motion as part of their Science curriculum at Class 8. But it turns out that Quantum Mechanics is not properly introduced even for Physics students in Class 12 of CBSE. This is likely to be true of other State School leaving Boards as well. 

The reality is that Quantum Mechanics is all around us and as our young enter the 3rd decade of the 21st Century, they will be seriously constrained if they are not well versed in Quantum Mechanics ( and of course fluent in Computational Thinking and digital tools including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning ). 

If you have wondered how birds find their way across thousands of miles of open sky during migration? Or pondered over photosynthesis ( a very important component of the fight against climate change) or how the human sense of smell works, you will be thrilled to know that recently, scientists have been using quantum physics to unravel these and some of nature’s enduring mysteries. 

We may introduce the learners to key features of and basic concepts of Quantum Computing. At the bottom of this note I have given the link to an interesting paper ( 2005) that actually derives Newtonian Mechanics from the principles of  Quantum mechanics.

We may find that this generation finds it easier to appreciate quanta….. as analogous to pixels….a terminology that they use in the context of their Smartphones. 

In addition to concepts like ‘phase’ and superposition,a strange feature of quantum physics to which we can introduce them is entanglement, which Albert Einstein famously called “spooky action at a distance”. This is when two particles form a connection across an unknown distance, which could be a millimetre or the width of a universe, and one of the particles can vanish from one area and reappear elsewhere. 

While entanglement may have appeared “spooky” to Einstein’s brilliant mind, subsequently the scientific community has grappled with that and other counterintuitive aspects of quantum physics. 

But despite – or maybe because of – its unusual aspects, quantum physics is improving our understanding of the natural world, to a point where some of these theories can no longer be overlooked.

Quantum research has been selected by the World Economic Forum’s scientific community as one of the most important “future frontiers” in science. 

And the emerging field of quantum biology could be the key to explaining the previously inexplicable.

A new study suggests living bacteria can be put into “quantum entanglement”. If bacteria are confirmed to exhibit quantum effects, it would form the first evidence of interplay between macroscopic organic matter and the subatomic quantum world.

We have just heard the news that Google has achieved “ Quantum Supremacy”, something that is being challenged by IBM, but it is reasons to imagine that the learners who are in class 8 or so would see a world of Quantum Computing, Quantum Medicine and maybe fields like “ protein engineering” when they leave School.

If they don’t have to be irrelevant and misfits like the engineers of today …. it is of utmost urgency that we take a lead in this. 

Flow of MLL16: Understanding the Quantum World 

Theme 1: Why learn Quantum Mechanics?

1.1: The origins of Quantum Mechanics

1.2: The dramatis personae in the development of the field :

1.3: Quantum Mechanics in everyday life:

1.4: How Quantum Mechanics explains Newton’s laws of motion

1.5: India’s contributions to Quantum Mechanics

Thee 2: Key concepts in Quantum Mechanics

2.1: Wave-particle duality

2.2: Superposition

2.3: Entanglement 

2.4: Quantum Tunnelling

2.5: Large scale quantum phenomena: superconductivity and superfluidity 

Theme 3: The Mathematical toolkit for Quantum Mechanics

3.1: What are the conceptual and mathematical barriers ?

3.2: Complex numbers 

3.3: Vectors and their operations

3.4: Matrices and their operations

3.5: Eigenvalues and eigenvectors

Theme 4: Applications of Quantum Mechanics

4.1: Quantum Physics

4.2: Quantum Chemistry

4.3: Quantum Biology

4.4: Quantum Computing

4.5: How to learn more about Quantum Mechanics ? A compendium of resources for the keen motivated, self-driven learner. 

QT03: Quantum Biology: Where Physics meets the life Sciences. This is a month long (4 weeks/ 5 days a week) WhatsApp delivered program which is a follow up to the introductory program described above, and introduces the learner to this exciting new developing field.

Backdrop:

Molecular Biology and Quantum Mechanics developed in parallel, rather than co-operatively. Biologists hardly attended Physics lectures and Physicists paid little attention to Biology. But according to Szent-György, a pioneer in the fields, the large bio molecules are not really the actors of the drama of life, but they are only the stage on which the drama is enacted, while the real actors are mobile electrons. 

Quantum biology

How can plants convert sunlight into chemical energy that they can live on in one billionth of a second? How can birds detect the Earth’s magnetic field, in order to navigate over thousands of miles? How can our DNA randomly mutate with no apparent cause? What is consciousness?

Understanding how biology evolved to take advantage of manifestly quantum behaviour and what role quantum physics may have in the human brain is a nascent but growing area of research. It could answer some of science’s biggest mysteries and lead to technologies beyond our imagination. Find out more in this article.

Week 1: What is life? 

1.1: The ‘life’ force

1.2: The naive Physicist’s approach

1.3: The hereditary mechanism

1.4: Mutation

1.5: Order, disorder and entropy

Week 2: Quantum Biology

3.1: Cells, tissues and organs

3.2: The engines of life

3.3: Quantum Genes

3.4: Properties of fundamental biochemicals

3.5: Epigenetics

Week 3: The future of medicine 

3.1: Traditional medicine : the success of antibiotics

3.2: The future of medical treatment is a cell, not a pill

3.3: Genetic Engineering : Human Gene editing ( CRISPR) 

3.4: The radical possibilities of man made DNA

3.5: Can Quantum Biology make new living Technology ?

Week 4: Consciousness

4.1: What is consciousness

4.2: Theories of consciousness

4.3: Measures of consciousness

4.4: Does consciousness have a function

4.5: Consciousness and Computation

QT04: Quantum Computing : The hottest news now is of Quantum Supremacy, where Google claims and IBM questions that their Quantum Computer can solve a problem in a few minutes that would take tens of thousands of hours on the fastest traditional supercomputer. This weeklong WhatsApp course covers the main features of Qubits, quantum computing and its possible applications and implications.

  • Flow:
  • 1: Why Quantum Computing ?
  • 2: Key concepts in Quantum Computing
  • 3: Practical Quantum Computing
  • 4: Applications and possibilities

1: Why Quantum Computing ?

  • 1.1: Some recent news items
  • 1.2: Richard Feynman’s 1981 suggestion/ lecture
  • 1.3: Quantum Supremacy and other measures of Quantum Performance
  • 1.4: The potential benefits of Quantum Computing
  • 1.5: The challenges to Quantum Computing

2: Key Concepts in Quantum Computing

  • 2.1: Bits, Qubits and Superposition
  • 2.2: Entanglement
  • 2.3: Quantum Algorithms: Peter Shor ( factorisation)
  • 2.4: Quantum Algorithms : Luv Grover ( database search) 
  • 2.5: Quantum Software Development

3: Practical Quantum Computing

  • 3.1: Different approaches to Quantum Computing
  • 3.2: IBM
  • 3.3: Google
  • 34: Microsoft 
  • 3.5: Other players : D-wave, IonQ, 

4: Applications and possibilities:

  • 4.1: A survey of application domains for Quantum Computing
  • 4.2: Quantum Machine Learning
  • 4.3:
  • 4.4:
  • 4.5: The Grand challenges: Longevity; Climate Change

Teaching Quantum Mechanics at School:equipping students to change the world

Why teach Quantum Mechanics at School ? 

Sir John Ziman began the Preface of his well known book “ Principles of the Theory of Solids” (1964 edition),with the following opening lines:

“ The frontiers of knowledge ( to coin a phrase) are always on the move. Today’s discovery will tomorrow be part of the mental furniture of every research worker. By the end of next week it will be in every course of graduate lectures . Within a month there will be a clamour to have it in the undergraduate curriculum. Next year, I do believe, it will seem so commonplace that it may be assumed to be known to every schoolboy.”

In 1930, CV Raman was conferred the Nobel Prize for his discovery of and explanation of the Raman effect ( https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1930/ceremony-speech/) . The following excerpt “  The explanation of this phenomenon, which has received the name of the “Raman effect” after its discoverer, has been found by Raman himself, with the help of the modern conception of the nature of light. According to that conception, light cannot be emitted from or absorbed by material otherwise than in the form of definite amounts of energy or what are known as “light quanta”. Thus the energy of light would possess a kind of atomic character. A quantum of light is proportionate to the frequency of rays of light, so that in the case of a frequency twice as great, the quanta of the rays of light will also be twice as great.” unequivocally acknowledges its quantum nature.  We celebrate Raman’s birthday on February 28th as National Science Day, but still don’t teach Quantum Mechanics to a majority of the young. 

It is now common to teach all School students Newton’s laws of motion as part of their Science curriculum at Class 8. But it turns out that Quantum Mechanics is not properly introduced even for Physics students in Class 12 of CBSE. This is likely to be true of other State School leaving Boards as well. 

The reality is that Quantum Mechanics is all around us and as our young enter the 3rd decade of the 21st Century, they will be seriously constrained if they are not well versed in Quantum Mechanics ( and of course fluent in Computational Thinking and digital tools including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning ). 

The more ambitious may even be introduced to Topology around the same time that they are introduced to Euclidean geometry. 

If you have wondered how birds find their way across thousands of miles of open sky during migration? Or pondered over photosynthesis ( a very important component of the fight against climate change) or how the human sense of smell works, you will be thrilled to know that recently, scientists have been using quantum physics to unravel these and some of nature’s enduring mysteries. 

We may introduce the learners to key features of and basic concepts of Quantum Computing. At the bottom of this note I have given the link to an interesting paper ( 2005) that actually derives Newtonian Mechanics from the principles of  Quantum mechanics.

We may find that this generation finds it easier to appreciate quanta….. as analogous to pixels….a terminology that they use in the context of their Smartphones. 

In addition to concepts like ‘phase’ and superposition,a strange feature of quantum physics to which we can introduce them is entanglement, which Albert Einstein famously called “spooky action at a distance”. This is when two particles form a connection across an unknown distance, which could be a millimetre or the width of a universe, and one of the particles can vanish from one area and reappear elsewhere. 

While entanglement may have appeared “spooky” to Einstein’s brilliant mind, subsequently the scientific community has grappled with that and other counterintuitive aspects of quantum physics. 

But despite – or maybe because of – its unusual aspects, quantum physics is improving our understanding of the natural world, to a point where some of these theories can no longer be overlooked.

Quantum research has been selected by the World Economic Forum’s scientific community as one of the most important “future frontiers” in science. 

And the emerging field of quantum biology could be the key to explaining the previously inexplicable.

new study suggests living bacteria can be put into “quantum entanglement”. If bacteria are confirmed to exhibit quantum effects, it would form the first evidence of interplay between macroscopic organic matter and the subatomic quantum world.

We have just heard the news that Google has achieved “ Quantum Supremacy”, something that is being challenged by IBM, but it is reasons to imagine that the learners who are in class 8 or so would see a world of Quantum Computing, Quantum Medicine and maybe fields like “ protein engineering” when they leave School.

If they don’t have to be irrelevant and misfits like the engineers of today …. it is of utmost urgency that we take a lead in this. 

We wish to develop a suite of products: 

  • A 3 hour half-day seminar for School teachers ( Physics) to sensitise then to the importance of this. This will have perhaps 6 sections of 30 minutes each. May be further detailed as we progress.
  • A tentative list of topics:
  • 1: Quantum Mechanics in everyday life: motivating School students to want to know about Quantum Mechanics
  • 2: What are the conceptual and mathematical  conceptual and mathematical barriers to teaching Quantum Mechanics at School?
  • 3: How Quantum Mechanics explains Newton’s laws of motion : http://www.eftaylor.com/pub/QMtoNewtonsLaws.pdf
  • 4: Key concepts of Quantum Mechanics: superposition, Quantum tunnelling, entanglement….
  • 5: Quantum Mechanics and Computing
  • 6: Available resources (includingincluding videos) to support the teaching of Quantum Mechanics at School

In addition to the above program for teachers, we are working on a short program for students. This is broadly similar to the idea of CBSE to have a 12 hour program on AI awareness which is labelled Inspirational AI. 

  • This  16 hour ( 24 periods) awareness/ inspirational program introduced at the stage, shortly after when Newtonian Physics is taught. Develop a ToC for this and give it more of a shape in the mid-November meeting. 
  • Themes that may be covered in this course : 
  • 1: The timeline of evolution of Quantum Mechanics
  • 2: The dramatis personae in the development of the field : Schroedinger, Max Born, Neils Bohr, Heisenberg, Dirac…..
  • 3: The Raman effect and its significance 
  • 4: Quantum Mechanics in everyday life 
  • 5: The key concepts of Quantum Mechanics
  • 6: The Mathematical toolkit for Quantum Mechanics
  • 7: Features of Quantum Mechanics: Superposition, Quantum tunnelling, Entanglement
  • 8: Large scale quantum phenomena: lasers, superconductivity and superfluidity 
  • 9: Quantum Biology
  • 10: Quantum Computing ( Quantum Supremacy) 
  • A compendium of resources for the keen motivated, self-driven learner. 
  • Have these ready by January 2020.  After running these for 6 months, then review again in July 2020. 

An interesting article, also referred to in the above text : 

Quantum Physics explains Newton’s laws of motion : https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0031-9120/40/1/001

The pdf version of the article : http://www.eftaylor.com/pub/QMtoNewtonsLaws.pdf

Why everyone can and should learn Quantum Mechanics : https://www.salon.com/2018/11/18/why-everyone-can-and-should-learn-quantum-mechanics/