By Janis Siegel, Jewish Sound Correspondent
It’s a college student’s dream scenario: Science class in a bar — with no tests. There’s no telling how many might have aced their finals if they could have attended class in the evening, listening to their professor with a finely crafted beer in hand.
On April 23, the adults who come to the first U.S. Weizmann Institute of Science’s “Science on Tap” event at The Pike Pub will have their dreams come true.
Along with the pub’s superlative suds and locally sourced organic food, a top-ranking world-class Weizmann professor, Dr. Roee Ozeri from its Department of Physics and Complex Systems, will discuss his research specialty, quantum computing and nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology refers to a one-billionth part of any material — like a nanosecond or a nanometer — that are 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
It’s a topic that is understandably tough for most people to get their head around — with or without beer.
“The most striking feature of objects that obey the rules of quantum mechanics is that they can exist in multiple realities at the same time — can be in different locations, have different colors, etc.,” Ozeri told The Jewish Sound. “We call this ‘the superposition principle.’”
Because they can exist simultaneously in more than one state, wrote Ozeri in a Weizmann Institute newsletter, quantum computers would store information using quantum bits or “qubits” because they represent a “1” and a “0” at the same time, known as the superposition effect.
“Quantum computers are computers that will be able to perform different computations in parallel and in different realities,” said Ozeri. “This will make them, in principle, stronger than any existing computer.”
This first-ever Weizmann Science on Tap event in Seattle is co-sponsored by the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Washington-Israel Business Council and the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.
“Prof. Ozeri’s studies in quantum computing are advancing this transformative area of research,” Andy Weissman, executive director of leadership giving for the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science told The Jewish Sound. “It is a booming field that will become increasingly important for the local community, and the world.”
Weissman said the institute chose Seattle to debut this event because of its thriving tech economy. But there was another reason as well: “Because of its tradition of brewing craft beers, often served best and freshest on-tap.”
Increasingly popular in Israel since 2012, Weizmann held more than 50 Science on Tap events during its first year, according to the Haaretz newspaper. In 2013, the number of events was even larger. Ozeri also participates in this series.
He wrote in a Weizmann Institute newsletter that a quantum computer could theoretically solve computational problems that today are unsolvable, improve research capabilities, and even crack the most complex encryption codes.
“It is, however, very difficult to realize such a computer,” Ozeri told The Jewish Sound. “Although we know quantum physics controls the behavior of microscopic particles, such as atoms or molecules, it ‘disappears’ as we zoom out to macroscopic objects — such as computers. Our job in building a quantum computer is therefore to extend quantum behavior to large scales.”
These are the issues Ozeri will bring up at the event.
Weissman said the tech institute wants to expand these Science on Tap events to cities like New York, Las Vegas, and Chicago, but there are no future dates at this time.
Charles Finkel, owner of The Pike Pub, has himself been a guest speaker at similar events. At one of the Pacific Science Center’s Science Cafés he talked about Louis Pasteur’s groundbreaking work on the identification of yeast, which is at the core of the pub’s brewing operation. Finkel has also been invited to speak forthe Washington State Jewish Historical Society and Hillel at the University of Washington.
Finkel and his wife, Rose Ann, served on Weizmann’s national board and led an informal Northwest Weizmann affinity group until he bought back the brewery they had founded.
“One of the things that Weizmann does that is unsung about it is that its inventions cross any border,” Finkel told The Jewish Sound, “so that the Palestinians and the Arab world are as satisfied with Weizmann creations as Israel. It just happens to be in Israel, but it’s for all humanity.”