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UMass Boston Physics Professor Awarded $2.45M Templeton Foundation Grant, $400K NSF Grant for Quantum Theory Research

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Sandra Mason | November 22, 2022

Christopher Fuchs

A professor of physics in the College of Science and Mathematics at UMass Boston, Christopher Fuchs, has received two major research awards totaling $2.85 million over three years for his work in the foundations of quantum physics. This funding comes at a time this fall when quantum mechanics is drawing high profile attention with the Nobel Prize in Physics going to three physicists also working in quantum foundations.

Fuchs is the principal investigator of a team awarded a $2.45 million John Templeton Foundation grant to fund a project titled “What is Metrology if Quantum Measurements Participate in Making Reality?” Fuchs is joined on the project by Jacques Pienaar, co-principal investigator and a postdoctoral physicist at UMass Boston, along with an international research consortium of physicists and philosophers from 11 universities in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Denmark, England, France, and Sweden.

Funding from the Templeton Foundation will be used to explore metrology, the science of measuring physical quantities at extremes of precision. According to Fuchs, philosophers have traditionally assumed, following classical physics, that measurements reveal pre-existing “true values.” But numerous results of quantum theory strongly indicate that this cannot be the case. Quantum outcomes do not exist independently of measurements, leading groups of physicists, philosophers and metrologists to ask, How does quantum theory transform our understanding of calibration and standardization in metrology?

Fuchs also received a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project entitled “Symmetric Informationally Complete Measurements and Quantum Computation.” Fuchs, the principal investigator, is joined on the project by co-principal Investigator Blake Stacey, a postdoctoral physicist at UMass Boston.

“So far, most of quantum information science has been developed in terms of the textbook presentation of quantum theory, which chiefly amounts to the mathematical language of vectors and matrices of complex numbers,” Fuchs wrote in his NSF grant summary. “But this language may hide as much as it reveals.” 

The goal of the NSF project is to develop an efficient language for quantum information processing based on Fuchs’s QBism quantum foundations research program. QBism is a way of giving meaning to the mathematical statements of quantum physics particularly tuned to the idea that quantum measurements do not reveal pre-existing values. This work will have influence across disciplines by connecting quantum mechanics and number theory.

Fuchs’s founding of QBism and bringing it to UMass Boston has placed UMass Boston among the few elite quantum foundations research centers worldwide. To follow this work, visit www.physics.umb.edu.

The John Templeton Foundation supports research and encourages civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, theologians, and the public. The foundation’s vision is to become a global catalyst for discoveries that contribute to human flourishing.

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