Quanta, Symmetry, and Topology

Quantum theory radically transforms our fundamental understanding of physical reality. It reveals that the world contains a hidden richness of structure that we have barely begun to control and exploit. According to quantum theory, what we perceive as emptiness is actually a medium boiling with fluctuating concentrations of energy, that rapidly flicker in and out of existence over tiny volumes.

In this lecture, Frank Wilczek, Professor in the School of Natural Sciences, indicates the extraordinary potential of quantum engineering (the size and nature of Hilbert space); reviews one important ongoing effort to harness it (topological quantum computing); and speculates on its ultimate prospects (quantum minds).

This lecture was part of the Institute for Advanced Study’s celebration of its eightieth anniversary.