A peculiar thing popped up in a Google search when I looked up Dr. Tommaso Calarco, whom I was preparing to interview for the IQC video library. Amid the websites listing his research achievements and awards, of which there are many, was a YouTube video called “Don’t Let My Qubit Decohere on Me.”
Much to my surprise and delight, the video depicted Calarco (wearing a pair of pink sunglasses and doing his best Elton John schtick) singing a song with a band of fellow scientists. Lyrically, the song is a loving ode to a qubit, and a lament that the qubit may fall prey to decoherence (that evil-undoer of quantumness).
Here’s an excerpt:
Forged with light,
On atoms in a vacuum,
Ones and zeros – but not so black and white.
comes rushing round the corner,
On the thoughts of many minds
We’ve almost got you working,
Your coherence could change our way of life,
But please don’t couple,
To noise you’re not supposed to:
Randomise, or just decay into the light…
Don’t let my qubit decohere on me
Though I seek coherence it’s often something else I see,
Don’t allow my system to behave – classically!
Oh, I want that quantum thing,
Don’t let my qubit decohere on me!
When I mentioned to Calarco that I had seen this clip, he laughed uproariously for several minutes, punctuating his laughter with embarrassed cries of “Oh dear” and “Oh goodness.” He explained that “some guy unfortunately recorded” that video at the final soiree of a quantum information research network he had helped build. Although he is a little bashful knowing the video is floating around YouTube, he explained that it actually represents an important aspect of physics. “Physicists are crazy and they should be,” he told me. “It’s important to let them be crazy. Because if they do some craziness they also might develop something important.”
Developing something important is exactly what Calarco does when he’s not imitating Elton John. He is a respected quantum computing researcher who is working to build collaborative research networks across Europe. He is excited and enthusiastic about the potential of quantum information research, as you’ll see from our interview with him.
But first, enjoy his brief stint as a quantum rock star, singing Don’t Let My Qubit Decohere on Me:
And now our interview with Dr. Tommaso Calarco — Understanding Quantum Computing: