One GIANT Quantum for Mankind

Written By: Sue Wirick

In the summers of 1938 and 1939 Albert Einstein rented a cottage in Cutchogue. He liked to sail. Its so amazing to me that one of the greatest minds of our century liked to sail! One can image he just needed to get away. To have a quiet place where no one could bother him and he had time to think. It was in 1939, while in Cutchogue, that Einstein wrote his letter to President Roosevelt warning of the progress the Germans were making towards the development of a fission bomb. It is believed that letter lead to the initiation of the Manhattan project which lead to the creation of the atomic bomb and the end of World War II in the Pacific. One has to wonder, though, how much Einstein struggled over whether to write this letter or not. At the time, scientists knew there was a significant amount of energy produced when atoms split. For Einstein to decide this was a project the USA should pursue was a decision he must have agonized over. He was not a man of war. But in the end he must have thought it was better for the USA to develop the bomb than the Germans and so once the commitment was made, Einstein and his fellow physicists devoted their full understanding and hard work to see the development of the bomb to its end. Scientists working on the atomic bomb had no idea the energy yield would be as great as it was and the research to develop the bomb lead to a much greater understanding of the atom and sub-atomic particles. Images of the huge mushroom cloud and the immense devastation to both Hiroshima and Nagasaki got everyone’s attention and the funding for Physics after WWII was significant. The end of WW II basically heralded in the “age” of both particle and wave physics.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was born in Southampton hospital and, as we all know, later married President John F. Kennedy who was the driving force that put a man on the moon. Sadly, JFK’s dream was carried on by President Lyndon B. Johnson and on July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong took one small step for man. I wonder how much of JFK’s dream to put a man on the moon was Jackie’s dream. I can image the two of them sitting in front of a fire place on a cold winter’s night and Jackie saying to JFK, “wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could walk on the moon?”. Even though Jackie is justing dreaming of this, I can see JFK jumping up and saying, “ yes, Jackie, you are absolutely right, we need to put a man on the moon! Not because is it is easy but because it is hard”.  Mankind needed this. It was the 60’s. We needed to know we could do something great. Over 600,000,000 people watched the moon landing. It really was a giant leap for mankind. Besides aiding in the birth of JFK’s future spouse, there was alsosignificant monetary support for JFK’s race to the White House coming from the Hamptons.

The East End of Long Island has played a significant role in two of the most important scientific accomplishments of the last 100 years; the development of the fission bomb and man’s first steps on another solar body. So what is next? Since the moon landing, scientists haven’t exactly been sitting around twiddling their thumbs. We’ve made great strides, developing the internet, cell phones, computers, smart TVs, and significant advances in all of the sciences. But these have all been small steps. We are on version 10 of the Microsoft operating system, so we have been constantly upgrading, not just operating systems but everything. But the giant leaps are yet to come. Unmanned missions to Mars and advances in the sub-atomic particle world i.e. the quantum mechanical world; these are the precursors to the next giant steps. If we elect a president who will back a Mars mission, with enough money, NASA could put a man/woman on Mars within a decade. The Hamptons’ financial support for presidential candidates is substantial and so we could put a person in the White House that would send someone to Mars.

Sub-atomic computing, teleportation, quantum entanglement, possibly even time travel, these are incredibly difficult fields that only the great minds of the next century are going to be able to untangle. But understanding quantum physics will take us to the next level, the next giant leap. We will be able to do things we can’t even begin to imagine. We have already teleported things and quantum computers exist but we are only on the very tip of the iceberg, on the verge of something wonderful. And so to encouraging these great young minds I’m proposing we set up a summer camp out here in the Hamptons for Physicists. A beautiful quiet place, with sailing (of course), but also with all of the summer activities we enjoy. A place where the Einsteins of our time can come and relax and interact with each other. A place where they are removed from funding worries and university duties. A place where they can laugh and play and reflect and maybe some of those reflections will give them insight into these very difficult phenomenon and take us to the next, amazing level.  And maybe, one of the Physicists will name a new phenomenon after the East End, the “Hamptons-Boson Field” perhaps.