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The Wonderful World of Quantum Mechanics

Plenary / Panel
english language

Most people are unaware how much our daily life depends on quantum mechanics. In a very entertaining way, using a lot of examples also from the world of fiction, this almost “mathematical-free” lecture will introduce us to the principles of a science that determines our world.


Taylor Distinguished Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Minnesota, MN Abstract
We are now well into the 21st century. By now we should have the jet packs and flying cars we were promised, while what we actually have are cell phones and laptop computers. The creators of comic books and science fiction movies thought that we would have a revolution in Energy (necessary for flying cars) when instead we had a revolution in Information. This Information Revolution was made possible by the development of solid state and semiconductor physics, which in turn was made possible by the discovery of Quantum Mechanics.

Quantum mechanics is the branch of science that describes the properties of atoms, and how they interact with light. Armed with this knowledge, scientists developed the transistor and the laser. A generation later these devices form the backbone of our modern technology - from DVDs to smart phones to personal computers to magnetic resonance imaging. Modern life would look profoundly different if not for the discoveries of Erwin Schrodinger, Werner Heisenberg Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli and a handful of other superheroes of science.

In this talk I will describe the Three Impossible Ideas that underlie quantum physics. These principles will be illustrated by their correct application in comic books and science fiction pulp magazines. Once we are all experts in quantum mechanics (which should take about ten minutes!) we’ll see how these three ideas are utilized in the operation of the laser, and we’ll describe how innovations in laser technology led to the Compact Disc (CD), followed by the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) and most recently the Blu-Ray (Blu-Ray). We truly are living in the World of Tomorrow - thanks to Quantum Mechanics!
President Emeritus, Jacobs University Bremen Chair


Taylor Distinguished Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Minnesota, MN

1979 B.S., summa cum laude, City College of New York
1982 M.S. in Physics, The University of Chicago
1985 PhD in Physics, The University of Chicago
1985-1988 Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Xerox-Palo Alto Research Center
1988-1993 Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota
1993-2001 Associate Professor, University of Minnesota
since 2001 Professor, University of Minnesota

Dr. Joachim TREUSCH

President Emeritus, Jacobs University Bremen

1970 Professur in Frankfurt
1971 Lehrstuhl für Theoretische Physik in Dortmund
1984-1986 Präsident der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft
seit 1987 Vorstandsmitglied der Kernforschungsanlage Jülich (KFA)
1993-1997 Vorsitzender der Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren
1995-1996 Präsident der Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte
1990-2006 Vorsitzender des Vorstands der Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
1999-2003 Vorsitzender des Deutschen Verbandes Technisch-Wissenschaftlicher Vereine
2000-2006 Vorsitzender des Lenkungsausschusses "Wissenschaft im Dialog"
2006-2012 Präsident der Jacobs University Bremen

Technology Forum

show timetable


10:00 - 12:30Technology Brunch hosted by Standortagentur TirolPartner
13:00 - 13:10Opening of the Alpbach Technology Forum 2013Plenary
13:10 - 13:45Innovation and PolicyPlenary
13:45 - 15:15Future Innovation - International PerspectivesPlenary
15:40 - 16:40Graphene - A Great Hope of Future Technologies?Plenary
16:40 - 18:00From Research to Economic SuccessPlenary
20:00 - 21:45Our Place in the UniversePlenary
21:45 - 00:00Career Lounge hosted by the Organisers and Siemens AG ÖsterreichSocial
21:45 - 00:00Evening Reception hosted by Forschung AustriaSocial


08:30 - 15:00Working Group 05: The Potential of the Alps: Focus Sustainable Use of ResourcesBreakout
09:00 - 18:00Junior Alpbach - Science and Technology for Young PeopleBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Special Event: RTI Internationalization in Austria - Strategic RecommendationsBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 01: The Value Chains of the FutureBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 02: To Develop the Future - Tomorrow's Innovation as Exemplified by International Leading EnterprisesBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 03: Smart City - Pathways to Future Urban MobilityBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 04: "Frontrunner", a New Approach in RTI PolicyBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 06: The Potential of ICT Tools in Open Innovation ProcessesBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 07: Web attack! The Fight against Hackers and Data LossBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 08: Industry 4.0 - Impact on the Future of Working LivesBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 09: Green Tech: Visions and Business of eco-mobilityBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 10: Identity 2.0: Digital ManBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 11: Intellectual Property Management - Conditions for Prosperity and SuccessBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 12: Secure Society = Secured Future = Security ResearchBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Ö1 Children's University Alpbach - Science and Technology for KidsBreakout
16:00 - 17:30i-Learning - The Future of Learning in the Digital WorldPlenary
17:45 - 20:00Challenges for Biomedical ResearchPlenary
20:00 - 22:00Open Dialogue - Smart Mobility for Smart CitiesPartner


09:30 - 10:15Planning Innovation: At the CrossroadsPlenary
10:15 - 12:00Cybercrime and CybersecurityPlenary
12:15 - 13:15The Wonderful World of Quantum MechanicsPlenary
13:15 - 13:30Closing Statement of the Alpbach Technology ForumPlenary
13:30 - 14:00Snack Reception hosted by the OrganisersSocial