What is Quantum Technology?

Today I'm excited to share a few new videos with you. But first, a little background.

As you may know, I started working at Alphabet, Inc. just after finishing graduate school in 2020. I was on a team of amazing people that formed the core of what is now SandboxAQ, a new company focusing on AI and quantum technologies, which spun out of Alphabet in March 2022. There were several news articles about this, including this one from the Wall Street Journal and this one from Forbes. More press coverage is listed on the company website here.

But what is SandboxAQ exactly?  I recently asked Sandbox founder and CEO Jack Hidary that question, and you can now check it out on our new YouTube channel. Take a look!

The video mentions "quantum technologies," but what does that actually mean? There's an enormous amount of hype and buzz around the word "quantum," but the associated concepts can be easy to understand if explained well. This emphasis on education for wide audiences is something I especially enjoy about Sandbox. We have our own education team comprised of top-notch folks from a variety of scientific disciplines who are working hard to share complex ideas with the world.

That brings us to the next video! What is this "quantum stuff" anyway? Below is a short video that gives a basic intro to the quantum world. What is it? Why are folks so interested in it? How is it different from day-to-day things? This video is aimed at a very wide audience and assumes little-to-no technical background.

Maybe you're wondering about applications now. What can we do with all this stuff? Who cares? Well, we made a video for that, too! It contains a brief introduction to the phrase "quantum technology" and introduces three examples of such tech:

  • Quantum sensing. This refers to the use of quantum effects to measure things. MRI technology is an example, and so is a certain defect in diamonds called a nitrogen-vacancy center, introduced in the video.
  • Quantum simulation. This refers to the use of computers to predict properties of atoms, molecules, and other tiny systems. This is useful if you want to model the behavior of molecules, say, for drug discovery. As you can imagine, it's preferable to test a new drug in a computer simulation rather than trying it on people by trial and error.
  • Quantum secure communication. This refers to the use of quantum phenomena to securely share and receive information, as well as the use of classical computers to guard against risks associated with quantum computers. (Maybe you've heard of post-quantum cryptography?)

A ton of people contributed to the making of both videos — from script writing, to filming and animation, to video editing, and more. It was very much a team effort and is just one slice of a larger project that's not yet publicly available. In any case, I thought it was fun to be in front of a green screen again!

By the way, there are many basic concepts mentioned throughout the videos that I wish we had time to explain better — qubits, quantum states, superposition, entanglement, and more. Fortunately, there might bean opportunity to release more physics explainer videos later this year. And even though I'm a mathematician and not a physicist, I've always enjoyed learning about and trying to demystifying these sorts of concepts. So, we'll see what lies ahead!

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