3 March 2022

Margrethe Vestager visits quantum researchers


Margrethe Vestager visited the department's quantum researchers in QMATH and Quantum for Life Center. The Vice-President of the European Commission wanted to understand why quantum software is an indispensable element in the race to become a frontrunner in the field of quantum.

Margrethe Vestager and professor Matthias Christandl
Margrethe Vestager and professor Matthias Christandl. Photos by Nikolai Linares.

Interest in quantum information science has exploded in recent years, and like the rest of the world, the EU is preoccupied with the enormous possibilities that the so-called "second quantum revolution" can entail. As chair of the Commissioner's Group on a 'Europe Fit for the Digital Age', Margrethe Vestager was interested in understanding what the Institute's quantum research can mean for tomorrow’s society and how Europe can become a strong player globally:

”For me, the point is to make technology serve us as humans. To enable technologies to help us build the societies that we want to have. In this regard, quantum technology has so many promises. In a number of technologies, Europe was not really there. Our footprint was not big but here we have a fair chance. This is potential – this is real potential. For this environment and for Europe as such. And this is why we should make it part of our strategic priorities” Margrethe Vestager stated during her visit.

Vestager - Klausen
PhD student Frederik Ravn Klausen explains how a quantum computer differs from a conventional computer.

Excellent research environment with skilled communicators

With a series of presentations and demonstrations, the researchers showed Margrethe Vestager how theoretical quantum research finds its application. From quantum algorithms, which are necessary to operate a quantum computer, to quantum communication that can become the secure internet of tomorrow, and quantum simulations that can speed up drug development in Life Sciences.

The researchers, from PhD to professor level, used drawings on blackboards, 3D models, molecular sets and live quantum computing to shed light on the abstract concepts, and Margrethe Vestager had both many questions and words of praise for the quantum mathematicians:

”Wow, they are good! Coming here today is really impressive! There are really low hierarchies and a willingness to explain what they are doing and why it is relevant for someone like me. In that, they were very successful! Even though I will never be a quantum researcher, just having a taste of it will make my work so much better. So it was a real pleasure being here today!”

Vestager & Frand-Madsen
PhD student Mads Friis Frand-Madsen explains and shows "live" quantum programming via a connection to IBM's quantum computer in the USA.

When the visit was over, Margrethe Vestager understood the concepts such as entanglement and superposition so well that she was up for a quiz - see her explanation of what separates a bit - the smallest unit of information in and a conventional computer - from a qubit, which is the information unit of a quantum computer. 

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