Monday, October 15, 2018

A Brief History of The "Second Quantum Revolution"

I'm preparing a talk to present next week in Brisbane, Australia, to celebrate Gerard Milburn's 60th birthday, and I plan to focus on a paper we wrote together in 2002 that has now become a hot topic.

In 2002,  Milburn and I wrote the paper, "Quantum Technology — The Second Quantum Revolution" that appeared on the ArXiv in June of 2002 and was published in the proceedings of the Royal Society of London in August of 2003. The terms "quantum technology" and "second quantum revolution" have recently taken off.

Milburn had written a book in 1996 called Quantum Technology and so that phrase had been around for a while. Indeed a Google search of "quantum technology" from 1900–2000 shows hundreds of hits. However, a Google search of the same phrase over all time shows nearly 500,000 hits.

To get a better idea of the trend, using Web of Science, we find 913 peer-reviewed publications with "quantum technology" or "quantum technologies" in the title, abstract, or keywords. Here is the graph of the citations to those articles by year.

Citations by year to journal papers with "quantum technology" or "quantum technologies" in the topic.

One can see the number of citations goes from linear growth to exponential in the early 2010s.

More unique is the phrase "second quantum revolution".  According to Google, this term appears only once between 1900 and 2000, in 1997 in an unpublished manuscript, A History of Physics as an Exercise in Philosophy, by E. J. Post, on page 52, where Post writes, "This relation was to have a major role in implementing the Schroedinger wave equation; the latter and matrix mechanics set off the second quantum revolution."

Post was calling the transition from the old quantum theory of Bohr and Sommerfeld to the new quantum theory of Heisenberg and Schrödinger, "the second quantum revolution", which is not at all what Milburn and I had in mind for Quantum 2.0.  I suppose Milburn and I should have used the "third quantum revolution" but it is too late now.

If we now redo the Google search on "second quantum revolution" over all time, we get nearly 11,000 hits, as seen in the figure below. There is even a new book out with this phrase as its tile. (I hope the author Lars Jaeger cites us.)

Google gives nearly 11,000 hits for "second quantum revolution" all of which dated 2002 or greater.
Note Milburn's and my ArXiv paper appears second on the list. 

Let us now return to the Web of Science and find the citations to papers that cite Milburn's and my paper. The paper has been cited 132 times. The plot below is the number of times those 132 papers have been cited by year. Again we see a linear to exponential transition in the early 2010s.

The number of citations by year of the 132 papers that cite our original paper. 

So what are we to make of this charts? Milburn and I should have trademarked "the second quantum revolution" when we had a chance.

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