I am told, by reliable sources, that we have been running the shop for five years. Five years! My imagination paints a grand picture of our labs and offices, our lasers, vacuum chambers and the many CQTians suspended in a cosmic void with the planet Earth, orbiting the Sun five times, dashing around the friendly star at more than 100,000 kilometres per hour and covering over four and a half billion kilometres. Yes, it has been a long journey but it seems as if it started yesterday.
I am shamelessly proud of what we have achieved so far. Good science is all around and Singapore has become a popular destination for budding researchers in quantum technologies. This is the place where quantum geeks of the world unite; a clear prelude to the quantum revolution. Our 219 researchers from 38 countries are jotting endless formulae on the Quantum Café whiteboards, exchanging views at numerous seminars and turning knobs of increasingly sophisticated machinery in the darkness of CQT's laboratories. They are making new discoveries about how the universe works and laying the foundations for a new generation of quantum-enhanced technologies.
Education, as much as research, is part of our mission, and this year is special for it saw the graduation of the first PhD@ CQT students. We hope that our students will leave CQT not only with new knowledge but, more importantly, with open and inquisitive minds, ready to challenge established views. We also extend our education to the public at large. It is a great pleasure to see that our popular science talks attract more and more people, in particular Singaporean taxpayers, to whom we are grateful for paying our bills and salaries. They can rest assured that we will put to good use our ability to control atoms and photons with incredible precision.
Much else happened this year, too. We hosted Serge Haroche and his College de France lectures, we welcomed DPM Teo Chee Hean on his brief visit to our labs, and we travelled to Vancouver to represent Singaporean science at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). We warmly congratulated Lai Choy Heng, Nelly Ng Huei Ying, Rahul Jain and Valerio Scarani on their awards. We were proud of Alex Ling, who knocked the socks off his audience (which included the President of Singapore) while talking about his experiment at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. And we cheered and cheered when Dave Wineland, a founding member of our Scientific Advisory Board, and Serge Haroche were awarded a certain Swedish prize.
I can go on like this, naming people, achievements, papers and happy moments of 2012, but there were also sombre days, like those in January when our Auntie Swee passed away. She was the centre's mother figure, always offering a warm hello, cleaning up after untidy researchers and making sure that we never ran short of coffee. These days of sadness showed, however, a sense of community within CQT. I found it very emotional and heartening.
It's a given that CQT has excellent scientists, but our community amounts to more than the sum of its parts. From social events to weekly football games, conversations in the Quantum Café to cartoons on doors, CQT offers an environment that we like to think is welcoming and vibrant. This environment helps us keep good people and make our research more collaborative and innovative than it might be in another setting. I hope we will enjoy this atmosphere for another five years and more.
Artur Ekert is CQT's founding Director. 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.