20141025


As we expand our reach outwards to other worlds
and other starsEarth comes into view as a destination, no longer limited as a point of origin." 


Inspirational highlights from my closing speech and subsequent interview with the press on our collective responsibility to the futureas technologies converge and we take our next steps outward to the starsdelivered to the full assembly of distinguished international delegates at the recent Global Leadership Forum, taken up and published by nationally-acclaimed Souls of San Francisco then reaching out to inspire hundreds of thousands around the world.


" We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on."  
           – Richard Feynman


From early childhood, I set out to convey a profound and positive impact on the long-term future of humanity, to make the world a better place for the generations yet to come. As we continue forwards in our collective journey, scaling the cosmic ladder of evolution, progressing onwards, expanding our reach outwards to other worlds, and other stars, in the transition to become a multiplanetary species—Earth comes into view as a destination, no longer limited as a point of origin. We stand on the shores of a vast cosmic ocean, with untold continents of possibility yet to explore. From early on, I committed my life purpose to the singular objective of ensuring that integrity, balance and ethical responsibility hold paramount importance as priorities, in both scientific research and in principal government leadership, as we're collectively propelled forwards as a species. With unprecedented leaps and bounds of progress in our scientific understanding—enabled by the development of converging and expanding exponential technologies—newfound, unexpected discoveries await, just over the horizon.

Rapid advances in fields such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, molecular nanotechnology, neuroscience, renewable energy, spaceflight, supercomputing and quantum technologies—each enabled by the rapid technological progress of Moore’s Law doublings in computer processing power, speed and complexity—will soon converge to confer radical changes to our society over coming decades, as we move forward in the collective transition towards the dawn of a post-scarcity economy. The future is unbounded. The responsibility falls upon us to ensure that its limitless potential is filled with dreams of hope, happiness, freedom and fulfillment.

I began my scientific career at a Deep Future, multidisciplinary research institute—Starlab—located deep in the serene and secluded forests outside Brussels, Belgium. Our research institute, co-founded by MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte and established in partnership with MIT, Oxford and Ghent University, was created as a "Noah's Ark" to bring together the world's most brilliant and creative scientists to work on far-ranging projects that hold the potential to convey a profound and positive impact on future generations. Our artificial intelligence project at the lab was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2001 as the "World's Most Complex Artificial Brain." I lived and worked at the institute, taking up research collaborations with the principal scientists of our NASA and USAF-sponsored time travel division—profiled in a prominent Discovery Channel Special—in work that was widely published, featured in a Discover Magazine cover story, and continues to this day: we just completed a chapter contribution to a Springer academic volume on Spacetime from Quantum Topology.

When our laboratory came up short on research grants, I personally went to the President himself to request $1M in additional budget from funds allocated through Clinton's 2001 National Nanotechnology Initiative. For my contributions to the program, I was selected by the US Government as one of three graduate students most likely to impact the future of the field, sponsored to attend conferences and administrator briefings at national agency headquarters outside Washington, DC, attended the World Technology Summit in London, was an invited delegate to the French Sénat to provide testimony on the future of technology and how it will transform our lives over coming decade—and more.

That was my first job out of college. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, I volunteered and was subsequently elected to serve as Chairman for a UN Disarmament and International Security Committee, leading more than 500 diplomats to address and combat the threats of international terrorism, global and regional nuclear security, and information warfare. 



My Chair Report to the General Assembly on the promise and perils posed by the rapid acceleration of unpredictable advances in converging technologies was read by the UN Secretary General, at the Executive Office of the President, by National Security Advisors, at Presidential and Prime Minister's offices around the world—was instrumental in building political momentum and influencing Congressional policy to establish the foundations for US Cyber Command—and was subsequently recognized with the 2004 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Policy.

That's when things started to get exciting.

           – Christopher Altman

*
Special thanks to NASA Ames Director USAF Brig. Gen. Pete Worden for guidance, insight and inspiration. Photos from Starlab and astronaut training at NASA Ames, NASA JSC and commercial providers around the country, 2009 - present.

          About the Astronauts | Christopher Altman
          Quantum Astronaut | Quantum technology, commercial spaceflight


20141022

Surgeon, Pilot, PoetAstronaut – Renaissance Man Savors Last Shuttle Flight Seattle Times (1996) Waitresses don't believe him when he asks for a senior citizen discount. Maybe it's his physique. Maybe it's his sparkling blue eyes. Maybe it's because he blends in with his colleagues, each of them a generation younger. They're all NASA astronauts. So is he. He speaks with certainty about parallel universes—about extraterrestrial life, and about changing gravity at his command. He says that changing his gravity involves no more than retraining his mind to ignore the dizzying array of visual clues in the surrounding environment.

I'm the only one I know that sleeps floating. It's delicious. You don't know where you are, and after a while, because your limbs aren't touching anything, you lose sense that you even have them. " 
           – NASA Astronaut Dr. Story Musgrave

One of the astronaut corps' most elegant thinkers and communicators, Story Musgrave is an accomplished pilot, surgeon, mechanic, poet, designer and philosopher. He has written 25 scientific papers in the areas of aerospace medicine and physiology, temperature regulation, exercise physiology and clinical surgery. As one of NASA’s most experienced astronauts, Story has flown on six space flights; he performed the first shuttle spacewalk on Challenger’s maiden flight; he conducted two classified Department of Defense missions; he has spacewalked to repair the ailing Hubble telescope; and, on his last flight, he operated an electronic chip-manufacturing satellite aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. Story participated in the design and development of all space shuttle extravehicular activity (EVA) equipment for his missions—including spacesuits, life support systems, airlocks, and manned maneuvering units. Throughout his 30-year career with NASA, Story enriched his experiences by capturing the essence of spaceflight through a variety of mediums including photography, poetry and personal experiments. Story has seven graduate degrees in math, computers, chemistry, medicine, physiology, literature and psychology. He has been awarded 20 honorary doctorates.

Follow your heart. One step at a time, you can build a very powerful repertoire to offer to the world. That’s who you are. " 
           – Story Musgrave



20141012




Ceud mìle fàilte,


Herewith, I present to you a salient gift: a multisensory talisman of hyperspatial origin, a
living, rheological meme flow of universal exploration—whether you be off dreaming between worlds, or out there transmuting dreams into reality in this one.

As a species, we continue forwards in our collective journey, scaling the cosmic ladder of evolution, progressing onwards and upwards, ever improving, expanding in scope and scale of standardized, objective metrics for suffering, compassion, empathy and pleasure. Crime rates continue to plummet. War is on a downward trend. Civil rights for women, minorities and alternative sexual orientations are transformed, liberated and recognized for the inherent uniqueness and immeasurable value that they express and impart to our communities, our social structures, and to the world. Applied medicine recursively redoubles in synchronized step with Moore's Law, as lifespan continues on its path to escape velocity.


Life is far less brutish and short than it used to be, persisting in its positive long-term upward climb—despite the inevitable eddies and flows, vortices and localized chaotic fluctuations. We've developed central heating and cooling, running water and plumbing, local and general anesthetics, antibiotics, vegetarian and vat-grown meat. Ligand-targeted gene therapies, next-generation neuroscience, nanoscience and designer pharmacology will soon expand and enhance the myriad array of available options and enhancements, so we may be empowered to paint our personal experiences—and the world around us—in tetrachromat, Technicolor rainbows, rather than the primitive Legos and erector sets of olden days yore. Awareness and empathy endure, prevail and flourish. Phonon-coupled Bose-Einstein condensates, linked in unity across relativistic spans of space and time, bring us new visions of contemporary gravity waves, reconciliation of relativity and quantum mechanics, and disruptive innovations, bound only by imagination, to take us to the stars. Mirror neurons recursively reflect our selves, our friends, our families, our communities, our homes, our whole.


Our understanding of ourselves, and of the world around us, undergoes seismic shifts of revolution after revolution and breakthrough after breakthrough. Matter becomes software. Software becomes mind. Networked computers act in light-speed limited synergistic symphony as quantum game theory yields novel Nash equilibria, transitions and extensions to the classical zero sum games of our fathers, our grandfathers, our ancestors. Our nation-state inheritance, historical dinosaurs and massive behemoths that they are, plod across the landscapes of memespace, reluctant to adapt, nonetheless transformed from within by wave after wave of irresistible cataclysmic social, physical and technological forces of positive revolutions.


As we expand our reach to space and venture outwards to other worlds, Earth comes into view as a destination—no longer limited as a point of origin, and the Overview Effect brings us together in innate recognition of our inherent fragility, unity and responsibility to steward the Earth for ourselves, for our children, and for our children's children. Access to information increases exponentially as cost follows inversely. The Internet allows minds such as our own to connect instantaneously across the globe, to bridge the gap, to share ideas that hold profound and positive potential to radically transform not just our own forward light cone, but to branch out and harness the influence of parallel and analogue instantiations of the Everett wavefunction, to calculate ancient, universal questions in the blink of an eye.


And this is just the beginning. We can scarcely begin to imagine what we will dream of, and bring into existence tomorrow. Wormholes, warp drives and closed timelike curves whisper themselves into being through our imaginations. ER = EPR. Entanglement is wormholes, forming the most fundamental of foundations—making allowance for the formation of spacetime itself. Learning effects across space and time and Everett branches mandate these myriad trends. Life itself is deeply infused with advanced quantum technology, as superposition unfolds through the expansive multiverse—a vast, active, intelligent quantum learning architecture of untold depth and complexity, an adaptive, responsive, evolutionary genetic algorithm—advancing ever onwards to calculate and optimize the universal utility function across the state space of all possible observers.


As newfound technological tools convey manifold expansion to our most elegant expressions of precision, depth and complexity and we fumble less in our monkey bodies on this recursive upward trajectory, our ability to manifest mind in our local environment grows by leaps and bounds and orders of magnitude. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and any sufficiently advanced alien race is indistinguishable from God. At the end of our journeys, we will finally come to find that which we were looking for, and we will turn in reflection to find that the footprints we were following in the sand were our very own.

Christopher Altman                                                   

Every valuable human being must be a radical and a rebel—for what he or she must aim at is to make things better than they are. "
 Niels Bohr                                        

20141010

Earth in True Perspective

This brief, single snapshot in time—a cold, empty void of absolute darkness, with nary a single star to be seen by the naked eye—in fact contains within the dark confines of its hazy boundaries the luminous wonders of over 10,000 beaming galaxies, each shining with the light of a trillion suns.

Back here at home, only a few short footsteps from your door, countless species of sea life and coral live out their lives: lush cliffs and caves, flora and fauna, and schools of fish, from tiny as needles, to larger than a great dane―millions of intertwined species, an interplay of flourishing ecosystems, locked together in singular symbiosis. An octopus drifts silently by, observing its surroundings in the stillness of soft, quiet reflection, as the full spectrum of the rainbow―liquid lines of chameleon color, glimmer just beneath its membranous skin.

With no moon, and no light above save for distant twinkles of starlight and the light of worlds light years away, two distant lightning storms on the East and West horizons bring intense contrast to the endless voids both above and below. As far as the eyes can see, no land interrupts this unbroken line of darkness. Complete blackness blankets the waters beneath, with the exception of phosphorescent plankton, which flash and glimmer like sparks in the night as we glide silently through the waters, or when softly stirred by a cool caress from the back of your hand. The dividing line between jet black sea and infinite sky is wholly absent, evoking a sense of leisurely drift through those deep, distant space nebulae—a synaesthetic, psychedelic experience, akin to sensory deprivation.

The luminous arms of the Milky Way, usually no more than a faint trace across the sky when enveloped in the chaos and cacophony of our contemporary pachinko parlor-laced urban climes, still a dim spark, even, from deep in the meadows of a distant countryside—shine bright as Times Square overhead. An experience beyond words, evocative of the distinctive hallmarks called to mind through the end sequences of Contact, or Kubrick's 2001.

Across the universe, the distant void yields to powerful beams of light borne from nuclear fusion sourced deep in the hearts of a trillion stars, each shining radiant warmth and light down upon alien worlds. Consider, for the briefest of moments: the unimaginably vast number of living worlds that circle those other suns, in this tiny distant window of space and time alone. Each and every one holds, 'tween the span of its horizons, boundless wonders and volumes of mysteries—countless miracles of dazzling complexity that mirror our own richly-populated, endlessly intricate, fractal, yet familiar home world.

Imagine how many others just like you are out there right now―this very moment―looking up to us in curiosity and contemplation, through the dizzying, stellar symphony of unfamiliar constellations dancing their way across strange, alien nighttime skies, calling back to us from the unfathomable void, crossing through the vast expanse across more than thirteen billion light years of space and time.

                           – Christopher Altman




20130710


The next frontier of quantum communications

Listening to Rupert Ursin's closing talk on Free-Space Quantum Communication towards Satellites. Over the last week, we shared the sunset from the summit of Mauna Kea, tracked binary star clusters and shining nebulae from telescopes atop the mountain, joined a round of native Hawaiian chants to give thanks to the land, the jungle and our ancestors in a hand-built, solar-powered treehouse deep in the rainforest, snorkeled through the same crystalline waters as the sea turtles and dolphins in Waikoloa Bay, enjoyed fresh coconut water and enchanted conversations on quantum mechanics and the nature of reality as whirling dervishes, beautiful dancers flitted around us at the naked drum circle of Kehena's black sand beach, and took in arms-length views of active cliffside lava flows and giant, billowing sulfuric gas clouds, violently heaving and shaking the ground beneath our feet, erupting into massive steam columns as they crashed into the ocean, slicing through the thin ribbon of coastline interface between land and sea, dead in the middle of the night, miles from civilization. 

The Next Frontier of Quantum Communications — with Richard Hughes, Tim Ralph, Wolfgang Tittel, Jaewan Kim and Masahide Sasaki at the IEEE Quantum Photonics and Communications Meeting, Hilton Waikoloa, Hawaii





20130402


Alan Aspuru-Guzik granted tenure at Harvard University 
"Breaking news: I just found out I got tenure 10 minutes ago. Thanks to all my friends for their support!"
Alan Aspuru-Guzik
Quantum physicist Andrew White among new Australian Academy of Science Fellows University of Queensland  "Professor White  has built an international reputation through his work in quantum physics. His characterization of a quantum logic gate, the fundamental building block of a quantum computer, has set the standard in the field. His research has been published extensively in numerous high-profile journals such as Nature Communications, Science, Physical Review Letters, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and New Journal of Physics."

20130322

Anton Zeilinger elected to lead as new President of the Austrian National Academy of Sciences
Kurier.at Anton Zeilinger has been elected to lead as the new President for the Austrian National Academy of Sciences. He will begin serving in the position on July 1st of this year. 


Anton Zeilinger’s achievements have been most succinctly described in his citation for the Isaac Newton Medal of the Institute of Physics (UK), "For his pioneering conceptual and experimental contributions to the foundations of quantum physics, which have become the cornerstone for the rapidly-evolving field of quantum information. Anton is a pioneer in the field of quantum information and the foundations of quantum mechanics. He and his colleagues have demonstrated many world's-first achievements in the field, including quantum teleportation, entanglement swapping, dense coding, entanglement-based quantum cryptography, one-way quantum computation, multipartite quantum entanglement, and blind quantum computation. In addition, he has made many important contributions to the conceptual and experimental foundations of quantum mechanics, particularly in the areas of quantum entanglement and macroscopic quantum mechanics."

In the summer of 2010, I lived and worked with the research group in Austria after being elected to receive two concurrent Austrian National Research Fellowships for my research proposals on "Quantum Mechanics in Higher Dimensional Hilbert Spaces," and "What is Real in the Quantum World?" at the Austrian International Akademie, Traunkirchen, with Anton Zeilinger, Marcus AspelmeyerCaslav Brukner, Rupert Ursin, William Wootters, Christopher Fuchs, Daniel Greenberger and Michael Horne.

Photos of the picturesque setting, and of the idyllic, crystalline lake in Traunkirchen, are available online here on Flickr.com.




Anton Zeilinger Selected to Serve as New Academy President

For some, he is the Austrian superstar of science. For others, because of his frequent public presence, he can be seen as a self-promoter. This much is not in dispute: The experimental physicist Anton Zeilinger (67) is one of those rare domestic scientists whose work has drawn the attention of the elite of the international scientific community. He sees science as few others do, through vivid and intricate experimental work—yet he taps into understandable language and easily reaches a lay audience. Now he will move to the top of the venerable Academy of Sciences (AAS) to convey his ideas as its chief.

"Mr. Beam," the "Quantum Pope," the "Pop Star of Science," "the Warlock from Vienna," as Zeilinger is sometimes called, with his graying beard and curly locks as a perfection of the stereotype of a scientist, enjoys widespread popularity despite sometimes facing criticisms. "The main reason he can convey such youthful enthusiasm is because he is an enthusiast himself."

Publicity never seems a motive for Zeilinger's work, recipient of the Club of Education and Science Journalists Award in 1996 for "Scientist of the Year". His motive is his enthusiasm for his subject. And so, as the award-winning physicist taught quantum physics to the Dalai Lama, discussed the meaning of life with Nobel laureates, and has always been set for even higher (Nobel Prize) ordinations. All this has been accomplished in a relatively short time—just looking back 15 years, when the physicist in 1997, with his teleportation experiments, made the breakthrough in the headlines through "beamed" quantum teleportation.

Research Timeline

Anton Zeilinger was born in May 20, 1945 in Ried, Upper Austria. He studied physics and mathematics at the University of Vienna, yet with "not a single hour attended to a lecture on quantum physics." He had to acquire his knowledge from books, as he writes in his book "Einstein's Veil" (2003). His PhD was awarded at the Atomic Institute of Helmut Rauch, with the "father of quantum optics in Austria," where he worked after graduation (1971) as an assistant. This period also saw his first research visits abroad, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the late Nobel laureate Clifford G. Shull's lab (1994).

Anton made several other trips abroad before he returned to his homeland in 1990 as professor of the University of Innsbruck. In 1998 he moved to Vienna University, and since then there, to the Institute for Experimental Physics. In 2003 he also founded, together with the University of Innsbruck physicists groups led by Rainer Blatt, Rudolf Grimm and Hans Briegel, the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI), of which he also serves as the scientific director. Zeilinger also leads as physics Dean for the University of Vienna.

Zeilinger appears as a gifted experimenter, succeeding in sophisticated attempts to uncover altogether new relationships in Nature, and to confirm or disprove current theories, where he also repeatedly ventures back to the basics and the foundational principles of quantum physics. He works, and leads, in one of the most exciting and fastest growing areas of physics today: quantum technology. 

20120523


Tunable photon-ion entanglement enables quantum networks Nature | Innsbruck In Nature 485 and concurrent KurzweilAI press coverage, Rainer BlattTracy Northup, and Andreas Stute have constructed an interface for quantum networks that is both efficient and freely tunable—the first interface between a single ion and a single photon. "Whenever we have to transfer quantum information from processing sites to communication channels, and vice versa, we’re going to need an interface between light and matter," explains Northup. "This technique has two significant advantages over previous approaches that have entangled atoms with light: the efficiency with which we produce entangled photons is quite high and in principle could be increased to over 99 percent. But above all, this setup allows us to generate any possible entangled state.”




20120118








Inaugural NASA Quantum Future Technologies Conference NASA Ames Research Center NASA scientists join the best quantum technology experts from academia, government and industry to identify new and exciting opportunities in space exploration, aeronautics, earth and space science where quantum technologies can have the greatest impact. Conference topics include next-generation quantum experiments for measurements of time and distance, navigation, field sensing, and gravity wave detection; scalable quantum computing architectures and algorithms; quantum key distribution for practical secure transmission over long distances, including fiber channels, earth-satellite links, and space-based communications networks.

Conference Website | Live Videoconference Stream

* February 3, 2012 | Videos and presentations are now online at the conference website.

20110912

Quantum to Classical Crossover in Mechanical Systems Leiden 
Lorentz Center Workshop on the Quantum to Classical Crossover in Mechanical Systems 
In recent years there have been rapid developments in controlling micro- and nanometer-sized mechanical systems—to the point where quantum physics has become essential for understanding the dynamics of these systems. Quantized oscillations of mechanical resonators are now being discussed, and these have potential applications in the field of quantum information science.

New, fundamental tests of quantum mechanics—such as superpositions of states and entanglement between systems—are now within reach for macroscopic objects. These experimental possibilities provide new input to the discussion of how the classical world emerges from underlying quantum physics. A related question, whether quantum physics is needed to understand properties beyond those of the chemical reactions and molecular compositions of biological systems, will also be addressed. This Lorentz Center Workshop will bring together leading experimentalists and theorists in this field of research.

Workshop participants include Dirk Bouwmeester, Yaroslav Blanter, Herre van der Zant, Eva WeigMarkus Aspelmeyer, Hans Briegel, Andrew Cleland, Rosario Fazio, Philip StampWojciech Zurek, and many more.

20110711



I've recently been selected to train as a scientist-astronaut candidate for commercial suborbital and developing orbital flights with a newly-formed, nonprofit endeavor that counts NASA/ESA astronauts, astronaut trainers and instructors among its astronaut corps and its board of advisors. I'm honored to be selected for the program, and tremendously excited about the opportunity. This is just the start of a long and challenging journey!
The nascent field of commercial spaceflight—and the unique conditions afforded by space and microgravity environments—offer exciting new opportunities to conduct novel experiments in quantum entanglement, fundamental tests of spacetime, and large-scale quantum coherence. In pursuit of these goals, we have the opportunity to inspire our next generation of scientists, researchers and engineers.
Quantum Experiments in Space and Microgravity

20110623

Extending coherence times in superconducting qubits Schoelkopf Lab | via Leo DiCarlo — In arXiv 1105.4652Schoelkopf et al  report novel implementation of a superconducting transmon qubit strongly coupled to a 5-cm, three-dimensional superconducting cavity, attaining reproducible extension in coherence times of both qubit (T1 and T2 > 10 μs) and cavity (Tcav ∼ 50 μs) by more than an order of magnitude compared to the current state-of-the-art superconducting qubits. "This enables the study of the stability and quality of Josephson junctions at precisions exceeding one part per million. Surprisingly, we see no evidence for 1/ f critical current noise. At elevated temperatures, we observe dissipation due to a small density (< 1 − 10 ppm) of thermally excited quasiparticles. These results suggest that the overall quality of Josephson junctions will allow for error rates of 10−4, approaching the error correction threshold to meet the DiVincenzo criteria for universal quantum computation. 





Time domain measurement of qubit coherence (a) Relaxation from |1⟩ of qubit J1. T1 is 60 μs for this measurement. (b) Ramsey fringes measured on resonance with (blue squares) and without (red squares) echo sequence. The pulse width for the π and π/2 pulses used in the experiments is 20 ns. An additional phase is added to the rotation axis of the second π/2 pulse for each delay to give the oscillatory feature to the Ramsey fringes.

20110612

The Quantum Computer is Growing Up: Robust error correction in a quantum processor Rainer Blatt | Innsbruck | Science | KurzweilAI 

A more efficient algorithm for error correction in quantum computers has been demonstrated experimentally by physicists at the Institute for Experimental Physics of the University of Innsbruck and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IQOQI).

The physicists demonstrated the mechanism by storing three calcium ions in an ion trap. All three particles were used as qubits: one ion represented the system qubit while the other two ions represented auxiliary qubits. The system qubit was then entangled with the auxiliary qubits to transfer the quantum information to all three particles.

The physicists applied a quantum algorithm to determine whether an error occurred and, if there was an error, correct it. After making the correction, the auxiliary qubits were reset using a laser beam to enable repetitive error correction.

“For a quantum computer to become reality, we need a quantum processor with many quantum bits. Moreover, we need quantum operations that work nearly error-free; the third crucial element is an efficient error correction.”- Philipp Schindler



A team of physicists at the University of Innsbruck, led by Philipp Schindler and Rainer Blatt, has demonstrated a crucial element for quantum computers: repetitive error correction. This allows scientists to correct errors occurring in a quantum computer efficiently. The researchers recently published these findings in Science.