Conversations on the Quantum World: Why Space Isn't What You Think It Is

Tuesday, July 12, 2022
11:00am to 11:45am
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Quantum science emerged from studies of the smallest objects in nature. Today, it promises to deepen our understanding of the universe and deliver groundbreaking technology, from quantum computers to ultra-precise measuring devices to next-generation materials, with Caltech defining the discipline. In Conversations on the Quantum World, you will hear directly from Caltech experts about the next quantum revolution and have the opportunity to ask your own questions.

Magnify a digital picture enough times and you will discover the pixels that make up the image. Could the universe itself be pixelated, or "quantized"? Theoretical physicist Kathryn Zurek and experimental physicist Rana Adhikari are on the hunt for this phenomenon, a signature of what is known as quantum gravity. They will speak with science writer Whitney Clavin about how they use innovative instrumentation and approaches to unite the microscopic world of quantum physics with the macroscopic world of gravity.


This is a free event, but registration is required. The first 1,000 attendees can join the Zoom webinar. Others will be provided with a YouTube link.

About the Participants

Rana Adhikari
Professor of Physics
Rana Adhikari is an experimental physicist who says he studies fundamental physics "by whatever means necessary." He develops techniques for precision measurements, including proposed quantum measurements of the structure of space-time. As part of LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory), Adhikari and his group make ultra-sensitive instruments to measure ripples in space-time (gravitational waves), generated by collisions between cosmic objects, such as black holes. He received his doctorate from MIT.
Kathryn Zurek
Professor of Theoretical Physics
Kathryn Zurek uses theoretical methods to solve some of nature's deepest mysteries, including dark matter, an invisible substance that makes up 80 percent of our universe and has evaded direct detection. She also develops models and theories to understand dark matter's effects on compact astrophysical objects, including dead stars called neutron stars and white dwarfs. Most recently, she has been studying possible observational signatures of quantum gravity. Zurek received her doctorate from the University of Washington, and was the David Schramm Fellow at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
Whitney Clavin
Senior Content and Media Strategist, Caltech's Office of Strategic Communications
Whitney Clavin is a science writer and communications specialist at Caltech, where she primarily covers the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. She has worked in the field of astronomy for nearly 20 years. Before joining Caltech, Clavin served as a press officer and science writer at JPL for 13 years. She helped orchestrate several of LIGO's big announcements, including the observatory's first direct detection of gravitational waves. She has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from UC Davis, and a master's degree in science journalism from NYU. Her hobbies include reading and watching science fiction, and dancing on roller skates.

This series is presented by the Caltech Science Exchange, which brings expert insight to the scientific questions that define our time. The Science Exchange offers trustworthy answers, clear explanations, and fact-driven conversation on critical topics in science and technology.