Escaping Equilibrium in the Quantum World


Titania He

Wednesday 6th November saw Quantum Information Society's very first event. We were honoured to hear an extremely intriguing talk by Professor Vlatko Vedral on non-equilibrium quantum thermodynamics, at Magdalen College's Daubeny Lab. 

We explored the strange effects that arise when systems become so small that fluctuations are important, and were introduced to the surprising Jarzynski equality. Things get even more complex when quantum effects are considered. What does thermodynamics even mean in the quantum regime? It appears there are more views on this than there are quantum physicists. 

Other topics mentioned include stretching DNA with optical tweezers to map out its free energy, and "Loschmidt's paradox", which suggests that a system of mirrors can be used to effectively turn back time. By the end, we were left wondering whether thermodynamics is a statistical trick or a fundamental aspect of even quantum systems. 

After the talk finished, participants stepped into the chilly autumn night, but their eagerness to hear more on the theme of quantum information didn't cool down even a little bit. There was an opportunity to meet others at our very first "Welcome to <Qu|In|Soc>" drinks in Magdalen College Bar, and to chat to Prof. Vedral for the second round of inspiration of the night.