Gabriele De Chiara
2002 Msci University of Palermo (Italy); 2006 PhD Scuola Normale Superiore
Palermo, Pisa, Trento (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Belfast
Queen’s University Belfast
Favourite thing to do in science: I’m always curious about things, how this works, why that happens; I’m constantly asking questions about nature.
Schroedinger’s cat, quantum teleportation and other weird things of the quantum universe
People often says how weird quantum mechanics is: particles being in a superposition of two places, you can’t determine simultaneously the position and velocity of a particle etc. It does not matter if it looks weird: that’s they way nature is (cit. nobel prize physicist Richard P. Feynman). When you dig into quantum theory it is not strange at all: there are different rules in the game. But once you accept those rules then you realise that the motion of electrons, atoms and photons can be predicted with high accuracy. It is the best theory we have right now. And once you know the rules of the game, you start playing and you discover that you can use properties of quantum theory to process information in a different but more efficient way. I am interested in quantum computers made of single atoms that interact with each other and in the mean time calculating complicated mathematical operations. The goal is to build a quantum computer that can calculate faster than all existing computers.
Here is the link on my research group at Queen’s University: Quantum Technology Group
My Typical Day
Think, read, think, calculate!
I am a theoretical physicist like Shedon Cooper in the Big Bang theory. Unlike Sheldon however I don’t study string theory but quantum theory. Since I am not an experimental physicist I don’t perform experiments. My job is to think new ways to build a quantum computer with atoms and photons. Once I have an idea I propose it to experimentalist. This is so cool, because something that is in your head can then be realised in the lab. And if you did your calculation correct, it works!
So my typical day starts with thinking about a problem, turning it upside-down and inside-out to find a solution. Then I read about other people’s work to get inspired and have a better idea. Then I think again at the problem and finally I do the calculation. Sometimes I try to use pen and paper, but when this is too hard I use the computer (my desktop PC, not a quantum computer!).
What I'd do with the money
Organise a seminar on quantum computers and quantum games
A friend of mine is developing a series of computer games that simulate quantum computers made of atoms:
www.scienceathome.org . People (especially young people!) playing the games learn about quantum computers in a very funny way and at the same time help the developers to find the best and fastest way to move around atoms in the lab.
I wish to bring Science at Home in Ireland and present it to school students. I think it is a great opportunity for young people to realise that quantum theory is now weird after all.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
curious, easy-going, relaxed
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
real italian pizza
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Exploring the jungle in Borneo and sleeping in a head hunters tribe
What did you want to be after you left school?
become a scientist!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
What was your favourite subject at school?
guess what? physics
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
I love discovering new things and I love helping people discovering things (for example my students)
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
my school teacher, reading Einstein and Feynman
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
a baker or a tango dancer
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. Come back to where I was born (Palermo) 2. Open a bakery 3. Go to Buenos Aires (Argentina) and master tango!
Tell us a joke.
Two atoms were walking across a road when one of them said, “I think I lost an electron!” “Really!” the other replied, “Are you sure?” “Yes, I ‘m absolutely positive.”