John Preskill is the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Physics at Caltech, a title many physicists would cherish. He is widely known in the field for his work as a theoretical physicist spearheading the field of Quantum Computing, where he is Director of Caltech’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter, but his expertise and contributions span a far broader spectrum of topics. His background is in theoretical particle physics, gravitation, and cosmology. As a graduate student, his seminal work on the cosmological implications of magnetic monopoles in Grand Unified Theories helped lead Alan Guth to develop his theory of Inflationary Cosmology, in part to resolve a cosmological conundrum John first elucidated. Since that time, John has explored condensed matter systems and the physics of black holes, made a famous bet with Stephen Hawking, and coined the term “quantum supremacy”, to describe a metric that might reveal the first time a quantum computer resolved a problem that a classical computer could not resolve in a feasible human timescale.
As Director the Caltech Institute, John leads one of the most vibrant programs exploring quantum information and quantum computation, and I was happy to have the opportunity to connect again with my old friend and colleague to discuss this rapidly evolving field, about which so much is written in the popular press, and which may impact on all of our lives in the 21st century. In our discussion we tried to separate the wheat from the chaff, to discuss the future of the field, its current state, and challenges and opportunities. In addition, we discussed his own scientific career and the physics areas that have excited him, and what helped drive him to become a physicist in the first place. It was a fascinating discussion and I am sure you will be both entertained, and enlightened.
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