Monday, April 18, 2016

Justin Trudeau Knows Quanum Mechanics, And Charms Us With That Knowledge

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is
comfortable talking about science, unlike
many American politicians.  
Like many Americans, I'm swooning a bit over Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

No, not because he's very good looking. He most certainly is that.  But a politician's good looks are besides the point.

One reason I'm swooning, though, is his ease, his knowledge, and willingness to learn things. His intellectual curiosity. Even about seemingly esoteric things like quantum computing.

I bring this up because I'm swooning in particular over Trudeau's knowledge of quantum computing, with is a sentence I never thought I'd find myself writing.

During a press conference at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada Friday, a reporter snarkily said he basically decided to not ask Trudeau about quantum computing, implying a cute prime minister like that couldn't possibly handle such a weighty subject.

But, Nope, Trudeau insisted on answering the quantum computer question. Sure he was showing off a bit, but you kind of want your prime minister to be the smartest person in the room, right?

Here's part of Trudeau's answer:

"Normal computers work, either there's one power going through a wire or not. It's one or a zero, they're binary systems. What quantum states allow for is much more complex information to be encoded into a single bit. "

Boom! He explained it and it ways that you and me can understand. By the way, physicists who heard Trudeau's spiel - people who ought to know this stuff -- said the prime minister was perfectly correct in his explanation.

Here's the video, with more thoughts below that:

I'm swooning over Trudeau, not so much because he can explain quantum computing, but because he's such a contrast to so many American politicians.

Many American politicians hate, HATE facts and research and science. So we get the spectacle of a United States Senator walking into the Capitol building in Washington DC with a snowball to "prove" global warming isn't happening.

Members of the U.S. Congress repeatedly try to cut funding on science research because the results might conflict with their political agenda.

"There is an attack on the actual substance of the science being done in an attempt to limit the type of science that federal agencies can do because the results of that investigation would be politically inconvenient," University of North Carolina-Wilmington Marine Biology professor Will White said in Scientific American last year. 

Conservative politicians offer ridiculous justifications for discriminating against gay people, relying on "studies" and "research" that aren't really science but just a politicailly motivated sham. f

Congress Creatures also try to cut funding to the National Institutes of Health because some of their research conflicts with their views on contraceptives, teen sex and other hot button issues.

Certainly, not all scientists or scientific research is wonderful. Some of it is flawed, or worse. We shouldn't accept it all at face value.

But shouldn't we demand that our politicians, our leaders, at least have the intellect to understand and evaluate research? And the intellectual honesty to accurately and open mindedly assess the value and accuracy of scientific results?

American politicians don't always deny science. Say what you want about Bernie Sanders, but it's evident he actually reads scientific research on climate change, or is at least briefed on it.

I hope more American politicians accept the model of Justin Trudeau.

No, American politicians don't have to be good looking. But it would be nice if they didn't treat science like an (un-researched) plague epidemic.


It's something that's become rare in politics, at least on the United States side of the border.

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