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In the Focus

Nobel Laureate Anthony James Leggett Discusses Quantum Mechanics at SUSTech

Jun 30, 2018 Lecture Series

On the afternoon of June 29, Nobel Laureate Sir Anthony James Leggett accepted SUSTech’s invitation and delivered a lecture titled “Does the Everyday World Really Obey Quantum Mechanics?” at SUSTech’s International Conference Hall. The Hall was packed with SUSTechers, faculty members, as well as middle school science lovers and their parents.

Quantum mechanics has been enormously successful in describing nature at the atomic level, and most physicists believe that it is in principle the "whole truth" about the world even at the everyday level. However, such a prima facie view leads to a severe problem: in certain circumstances, the most natural interpretation of the theory implies that no definite outcome of an experiment occurs until the act of "observation." For many decades this problem was regarded as "merely philosophical," in the sense that it was thought that it had no consequences which could be tested in experiments. However, in the last few years, that belief has changed very dramatically.  Leggett discussed the problem, some popular "resolutions" of it, the current experimental situation and prospects for the future.

In the meantime, Leggett introduced key concepts and theories such as The Double Slit Experiment, Schrodinger's cat, probability amplitude, the photoelectric effect, grand unified theory and parallel universe. He also engaged in lengthy discussions with students, answered their questions in detail, and further elaborated on the dynamics of quantum physics. As one of the most well-received lectures this year, Leggett’s visit can be seen as a great way to end the 2017-18 academic year.

About the speaker:

Sir Anthony James Leggett has been a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1983. His research focuses on cuprate superconductivity, superfluidity in highly degenerate atomic gases, low-temperature properties of amorphous solids, conceptual issues in the formulation of quantum mechanics and topological quantum computation.


Leggett is widely recognized as a world leader in the theory of low-temperature physics, and his pioneering work on superfluidity was recognized by the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics. He also won the 2002/2003 Wolf Foundation Prize for research on condensed forms of matter and received the Eugene Feenberg Memorial Medal in 1999. Leggett has shaped the theoretical understanding of normal and superfluid helium liquids and strongly coupled superfluids. He set directions for research in the quantum physics of macroscopic dissipative systems and use of condensed systems to test the foundations of quantum mechanics.

Leggett is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences (foreign member), the Indian National Science Academy, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1980, the American Physical Society, and American Institute of Physics, and Life Fellow of the Institute of Physics. In his homeland UK, he is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK) and was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 2004 Queen's Birthday Honours "for services to physics."


Original Article & Translation by Fan Yining

Proofreading by Chris Edwards

Photos by Zhang Xiaoyan

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