Station Q: the Quest for a Quantum Future
Station Q, headquarters of potentially world-changing quantum-computing research, is located just past where the Pacific Ocean meets the sand, up through a grove of palm trees and across a bike path. (Do mind the shirtless college student zipping past on a skateboard wearing only a backpack and swim trunks.)
In some ways, Station Q is not at all what you’d expect from a hub for next-level computing research—there’s a strong Southern California vibe, with world-renowned experts turning up for work in Hawaiian shirts and shorts, and even a nearby room with a shower, a clothes rack full of faded wetsuits and battered, loaner surfboards leaning in the corner for those who do their best thinking while hanging ten.
In other ways, Station Q’s surroundings are exactly what you’d think—equation-packed chalkboards hang in every office, meeting room and hallway; math and science comics taped outside office doors; and an academic air of silence (though there’s an underlying buzz to the place—a feeling of restlessness).
Michael Freedman, Station Q’s director, is stately, fit, and well-tanned. He looks a bit like heroic police Chief Martin Brody from the movie Jaws, played by actor Roy Scheider, who saves a small coastal town from a man-eating shark.
At Station Q, located on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Freedman and his colleagues from all over the world, both inside and outside of Microsoft, explore the exciting, mysterious, difficult, and downright strange space where computer science meets quantum physics.