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U of Toronto to award quantum mechanics prize to renowned physicist Sandu Popescu

The University of Toronto has selected quantum physicist Sandu Popescu to receive the prestigious John Stewart Bell Prize for his enormous contributions to the field of quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics is the theory physicists believe describes everything in nature. Yet, with predictions such as the fact that any small particle, an atom for example, can be in two places at the same time, the story it tells us is so remote from our everyday experience that it it looks and is deeply mysterious. Over the years scientists have learned to live with these bizarre ideas and even harness them for practical purposes. Only recently, for example, has it come to be realized that these properties can be used to build ultra-secure communication systems and perhaps even to design computers exponentially more powerful than anything possible in the classical world. Yet more than 80 years since its discovery, quantum mechanics remains as mysterious as ever.

Popescu, of the University of Bristol, is world-renowned for his many-faceted and influential work on nonlocality, entanglement, and the quantum foundations of statistical mechanics. His research interest lies in investigating fundamental aspects of quantum physics to gain a better understanding of the nature of quantum behavior.

"The fact that so often one discovers seemingly paradoxical new quantum effects is a signature that a deep and intuitive understanding is still missing," says Popescu. "A major focus of my research has been quantum non-locality, an area that for much of its history has been primarily of interest to philosophers of physics. My research aims to go beyond philosophy and to develop an understanding of the physics of non-locality." This has led him to establish some of the central concepts of the new area of quantum information and computation. He has also worked on many other aspects of quantum theory, ranging from the very fundamental, to designing practical experiments, such as the first teleportation experiment, to patentable commercial applications.

"Honouring the enormous achievements of the scientists working in our field is the very reason we established the Bell Prize," says Greg Scholes, director of the University of Toronto's Centre for Quantum Computing and Control. The award recognizes major advances relating to the foundations of quantum mechanics and to the applications of these principles. This includes quantum information theory, quantum computation, quantum foundations, quantum cryptography and quantum control. Named for the late John Bell, whose insights have changed our view of reality, the prize highlights the continuing rapid pace of theoretical and experimental research in these areas, both fundamental and applied.


Contact: Kim Luke
University of Toronto

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