It turned out to be a busy year. Research at CQT did not cool down after we cooled local atoms to the Bose-Einstein condensate level in 2009. Murray and his colleagues went on to trap ions and started playing with cavity quantum electrodynamics. Bjorn worked on his atom-chip experiment, and Christian kept tinkering with focusing light on individual atoms, with a great deal of success. Also on the experimental side, our newly appointed Principal Investigators were busy setting up their labs. Lorries arrived and, accompanied by the sound of drilling and hammering, more and more equipment was brought in. Throughout, theorists performed their usual pantomime in front of our whiteboards, arguing vehemently about the meaning of quantum theory, the nature of information and the like. They have produced some amazing results, to mention only the information causality paper. Adding to the activity was a stream of visitors, friends, colleagues, students and journalists flying in to spend time at CQT, uninterrupted even by the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Our coffee machine was pressurised to its limit, delivering endless espressos.
Taking time out from pushing optical benches, tuning lasers and writing academic papers, some of our scientists have honed their pedagogical skills by explaining quantum physics to the public at large. Vlatko’s popular book titled “Decoding Reality” has been very well received, Valerio and Kwek lectured at the local schools, and crowds were attracted to our demonstration of quantum entanglement in a shopping mall. Yes, in a shopping mall, for where else would you find crowds in Singapore? To be sure, much of what we do at CQT is far from simple. For us, secret communication is not about whispering messages into baked bean cans painted in pretty colours and connected with string, as we learnt to do as children. But even the most sophisticated quantum technology can be described in simple terms, and to this end our outreach team did an excellent job. Altogether, I believe, by a combination of good research and making quantum theory more accesible, we have demonstrated to the local taxpayers that their money is well spent.
Artur Ekert was CQT's founding Director, leading the Centre from December 2007 to July 2020. He is also the Lee Kong Chian Centennial Professor at the National University of Singapore and the Professor of Quantum Physics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, UK. He is one of the pioneers of quantum cryptography. He has worked, communicated with and advised several companies and government agencies.
His current research extends over most aspects of information processing in quantum-mechanical systems. He is a recipient of several awards, including the 1995 Maxwell Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics and the 2007 Royal Society Hughes Medal. In his non-academic life he is an avid scuba diver.