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‘Beam me up, Sarah?’ BU prof to research sci-fi-like quantum theories

Dr. Sarah Plosker, Brandon University

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Dr. Sarah Plosker, Brandon University

Can something be in two places at once? A local researcher has been awarded a federal grant to explore a long-standing theory which says yes.

"The principle of quantum superposition suggests that subatomic particles can be literally two places at one time," says Dr. Sarah Plosker, who is with Brandon University's math and computer science department. "I will examine the mathematics on which this theory is based. A better understanding of quantum information can lead to new technology, including faster computers."

Currently, computers use "bits" of information that can be either 0 or 1. Quantum-information is based on "qubits" that can be both 0 and 1 simultaneously. Utilizing this so-called superposition, a quantum computer would process information trillions of times faster than today’s machines. Theoretically, superposition would allow objects to be beamed from one place to another without physically crossing the distance —Bea teleportation in sci-fi shows.

"The transistor and the laser are built upon theories of quantum information," Plosker says, "and those breakthroughs led to culture-shifting devices including computers and iPhones. My goal is to advance our working knowledge in this exciting field."

Plosker has received a $60,000 Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to help fund her five-year study into the mathematical foundations for physical realizations in quantum mechanics. This summer, she will travel to China and South Korea to collaborate with scientists.

"The NSERC grant is a great acknowledgement of Dr. Plosker’s industry-leading work," said Andrew Egan, the university's dean of science, "and an excellent example of Brandon University’s cutting-edge research initiatives. This award at this stage of her career speaks to enormous potential."

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