New Video Podcast: fAQ

In a bit of fun news, I've just launched a new video podcast with my coworker Adam Green. This new video series, which we're calling fAQ, consists of casual conversations between me and Adam on basic ideas in quantum physics and eventually some topics in AI. (Hence the "A" and "Q," which is also a hat tip to our employer, SandboxAQ.) The target audience is very broad and includes any curious human who wants to learn more about these ideas. Our hope is that these informal chats might help demystify some ideas in math, physics, and their applications and make the concepts more accessible to wide audiences.

Adam is a biologist by training, an excellent science communicator, and before joining Sandbox he was the Director of US Academic Content at Khan Academy. He's now the Head of Science education at Sandbox, and since neither of us are physicists, we're essentially working together to learn new things and are inviting anyone to join us!

Our plan is to spend the first few episodes discussing fundamental ideas, just to lay down some ground work, and then we'll see where things go from there. So, without any further ado, here's a short seven minute "trailer" video we made to introduce the podcast.

And below is our first full episode, where we begin by discussing bits and qubits.

What is a bit, you might ask? A popular answer is that "a bit is a 0 or a 1," but I'm not a huge fan of that answer, since it's just short hand for something more. So I thought it'd be fun to open up episode 01 by going back to the original source — the place the word "bit" was first coined. This takes us back to a 1948 paper called A Mathematical Theory of Communication by mathematician Claude Shannon, who defined a bit to be a measure of information, which you can see in the snippet below. (This is the same Shannon whose name appears in Shannon entropy, which is something that I'm interested in.)

There's lots more to the story, of course, but I won't spoil it for you. Go listen to the episode!

And after chatting about bits for a while, we then segue to their quantum analogues, qubits. But what's a qubit? Well, you can see me attempt to give an answer at around 22:25 in the video.

Definitions aside, I think one very helpful thing to know when first confronting these ideas is that both bits and qubits have abstract, conceptual definitions as well as a number of different physical representations of those abstract definitions. We try to make that distinction clear in the episode and give a few concrete examples. There's also so much nice math behind both topics, but we wanted to keep our conversation conceptual with an eye towards applications. There is so much I'd like to say about the math, though, but perhaps I'll have to save that for another day (or another episode).

In the mean time, I do hope folks enjoy the new podcast! We'll plan to upload a new video to SandboxAQ's YouTube channel once every two weeks or so. And we'll soon have the audio versions uploaded to some of the major podcast platforms, as well.

Enjoy!

ps. Since I mentioned AI above, I can't resist sharing that the backgrounds for both video thumbnails were created by AI using Midjourney, which is a very fun tool.

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