It came to stretch our imagination, since fundamental concepts such as the superposition of states of matter contradict our everyday experience. At the same time, it has expanded our knowledge about our material environment to such an extent that our society continues to acquire novel technical capabilities till today. Quantum technologies that have emerged from the beginning have not only changed our daily lives, they have also become pillars of our prosperity.
Quantum theory has fundamentally changed our view of the world and is having an im-pact on all areas of our culture, science, technology, and art.
Enough reason for the German Physical Society (DPG), together with its sister societies and scientific institutions all over the world, to shed light on the role of quantum physics in the light of its results, its future options and its origin in all its facets after one hundred years of a success story in the year 2025.
What is the essence of the scientific quantum revolution of 1925 in 2025?
According to many experts, today, 100 years after the formulation of quantum mechanics, we are witnessing the threshold of the second quantum revolution. We can increasingly control individual atoms, electrons, molecules and light quanta in the laboratory, design quantum bits and composite systems with unforeseeable economic consequences: Quantum computing, communication, sensing, metrology, and simulation are on their way out of the lab and into the real world, and they are expected to fundamentally change our world yet another time.
Quantum mechanics has not only fundamentally changed our lives and our understanding of nature, it is also a cornerstone of our prosperity and, beyond that, of enormous practical im-portance: For example, almost all technologies of the IT revolution, perhaps the most im-portant driving force of our economy, from magnetic storage to chip technologies to optical signal transmission, are based on quantum mechanically governed functional devices.
What happened in 1925?
If the surprising proposals of Max Planck (quantum of action), Albert Einstein (light quanta) and Niels Bohr (atomic model with quantum leaps) had made the necessity of a reformulation of classical mechanics more and more urgent, Werner Heisenberg in 1925 - in a lively ex-change with Wolfgang Pauli - found the breakthrough approach from which a quantum me-chanics could be developed. Together with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, they succeeded in developing a consistent and applicable theory in Göttingen in a very short time. They were immediately joined by the equivalent versions by Paul Dirac (Cambridge) and Erwin Schrö-dinger (Zurich). Quantum mechanics is now the experimentally most precisely tested theory not only in physics but in science altogether.
What are the plans by DPG?
We are developing a comprehensive program for 2025 along the following thematic lines:
I. Quanta in Science and Quantum Technologies
Quantum technologies are enabling completely new applications in secure data communica-tion (e. g. quantum kryptography) , sensor technology, metrology and simulation, and at the same time open up new questions for research. We will have a look inside the quantum labs and show what quantum researchers are currently working on and what stimulates their interests.
II. Playful Quantum Science/ Quantum Science in Schools
Quantum physics is an important topic in schools, because it has had a lasting impact on our view of modern physics. For teaching, modern quantum science and technologies can provide further momentum to strengthen public insight and broad education in the natural sciences in general.
III. Quanta in Music, Philosophy, Art and Literature
Fundamental concepts of quantum theory are a challenge to philosophical interpretations of quantum theory even today, and they also challenge art, literature, and music to deal with its irritating aspects. We plan to make the variety of expressions of the phenomenon 'quantum' tangible through exhibitions, concerts, theater and readings.
IV. Quanta in the Professional world / Career / Society
Quantum technology not only promises further developments of already known methods and processes, it also raises expectations of revolutionary changes: Quantum computing is sup-posed to solve complex problems that conventional computers fail at; quantum networks lend physical rather than algorithmic security to the architecture of our IT world. What should we prepare for as a society? What consequences will companies and public institutions, employ-ees and decision-makers have to bear?
V. The Path to the Modern Quantum World and beyond
A theory like quantum mechanics does not just come to mind on e. g. a simple trip for curing diseases. Rather, it was a long road that led from insight about the limitations of classical me-chanics at microscopic, atomic scales to establishing this novel theory. It was stimulated by experiments that showed surprising quantum properties of nature and proceeded hand in hand with intense analysis and discussion by physicists at different intellectual centers of physical research on more adequate mathematical concepts. Cooperation and exchange were central to the success of a long development of theories and applications in quantum physics. But is it really different today?
UNESCO international Year: „Quantum2025“ / „Quanten2025“
Together with partners in Germany and abroad, the DPG is pursuing the initiative of having the UN proclaim an international year of quantum physics, analogous to such successful science years as the "Year of Light". This initiative is supported by renowned international organizations such as IUPAP (International Union of Pure and Applied Physics) or the Metre Convention. At the same time, the Year of Science in Germany could be dedicated to this technology of the future.