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Celsius-Linnaeus Lectures on unknown worlds

2010-02-18

The mystery of quantum physics and the potential of genetic research to create new life: this years Celsius-Linnaeus Lectures deal with two of the most astonishing and myth-shrouded research fields today. The lecturers are among the best known and respected researchers in their areas: Anton Zeilinger and Craig Venter.

Anton Zeilinger is one of the pioneers in the field of quantum information, which has emerged over the last 20 years. He has contributed to this emergence in many ways. Moreover he is deeply involved in the discussion about the philosophical aspects of our ability to understand our world at the most fundamental level. Quantum mechanics as a descriptive model for the properties of particles, atoms, molecules, and solid bodies is 85 years old, but only in the last 30 years has it been possible to carry out experiments to verify some of its most basic predictions. They have sometimes turned upside down our conceptions of how particles behave: it has been shown that they can move along two separate paths at the same time and that they can influence each other´s behavior with no time delay across kilometer-long distances. Einstein did not believe in this, calling it  "ghostly interplay." Zeilinger has shown that even relatively large molecules can "split" into two paths that go through separate holes only to be recreated perfectly. He performed one of the first teleportation experiments, where a quantum state is moved from one point to another, and he carried out a number of experiments where he demonstrated that photons can be used as information bearers in such a way that the information can only be read by those that have the same quantum mechanical code. These developments have spawned concepts such as quantum information and quantum encryption, which constitutes the basis of what it is hoped will lead to quantum computers with superior capacity. There is a tremendous amount of interest in the field, and commercial programs for quantum encryption are already available.

In his lecture, Dr. Craig Venter will talk about the trail that his research team has been following for 15 years - from the first attempts to determine the genome of a simple organism and the complex human genome to the first artificial genomes and the difficulties encountered on the way to being able to transplant genes and create a new species. He will also address how the use of new gene-synthesis technology can be used to solve global problems, such as the world energy supply. Craig Venter is widely known for his genetic research, and his many invaluable contributions to genomics have garnered him a number of prestigious awards. He is the founder, chairman, and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute, a research organization with 400 employees targeting genomics in humans, bacteria, and plants. They are also looking for alternative energy solutions with the help of genomics and are focusing on the ethical and societal aspects of genomics research. He is also the author of the acclaimed book A Life Decoded: My Genome, My Life.

Time and place for the Celsius-Linnaeus Lectures: February 18, Siegbahn Hall, Ångström Laboratory, Uppsala University.

Calsius Lecture by Professor Anton Zeilinger: 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Linnaeus Lecture by Professor Craig Venter: 3:30-4:30 p.m.

The lectures are open to the public. Seating is limited. They will also be shown live via www.uu.se, where the lectures can also be viewed later.

Besides Prof. Zelinger´s Celsius Lecture the Faculty is also planning a special "Quantum Day" with the participation of Zeilinger and other prominent researchers on the following day, that is, February 19 at the Ångström Laboratory.