Poem: Betelgeuse & his little brother


by Barbara Terhal

Barbara Terhal, faculty member at QuTech, wrote a poem about the tiny virus that holds the world in a firm grip these days, which we have printed below. We also invite anyone who has converted their thoughts in these unusual circumstances into poetry, to add their poems in the comment section at the bottom of this page.

Betelgeuse & his little brother

What if,
Now that the stocks are down
And the virus is up
Betelgeuse bursts
Like a balloon
Spewing hot radiation
Into space

Would we think that the small
And the large are connected?
Shaking hands across space

We can’t even see
The little copy machine
Crawling over us!

How wrong such interpretation

And still, how much we don’t know:
Blind, deaf and dumb towards the
Living creepy nanometer

Who knows proto-life ladders
All the way down to a few molecules
Mixing this or that way
Like those belches of Betelgeuse
Who also wish to become
In their impatient energetic strivings
Stable reproducible forms

They just shoot for the steady eons
rather than the unambitious span
of some human centuries

Cover picture: the star Betelgeuse in December 2019. Picture made using the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO/M. Montargès et al.).


Barbara Terhal is currently Professor at the EEMCS Department at the TU Delft and research staff member at QuTech. As a theorist she has been trying to get people to build quantum computers since her PhD in 1999 with mixed results so far.

Have you ever been to Ytterby?


by Sara Marzban

In this post I’m going to briefly describe the solid state system, namely rare-earth crystalline material, that the Tittel lab at Qutech is using to do all sorts of cool quantum communication experiments, including building the hardware required for an elementary link of a quantum repeater.

In this era of online communications, the security of transmitted and received information is extremely important. Quantum communication is an absolutely secure method of communication between points A and B. However, building these secure quantum communication networks has proven to be difficult. In a quantum communication network, fragile quantum states are transmitted between a transmitter (point A) and a receiver (point B). During transmission, decoherence can be introduced into the system, either from losses in the transmission line, absorption in the system or from environmental contamination. Some of the losses occurring over the full length of the transmission line scale exponentially with distance and as a consequence, quantum communication is restricted to a range of about 200 km, beyond which quantum states can no longer be reliably measured [1, 2, 3].
Continue reading Have you ever been to Ytterby?

Diary of an international student at QuTech


by David Maier

QuTech not only offers a wide range of interesting research, but also a diverse group of employees from numerous countries around the world. As a student from the far away country of Germany I was very curious if I would be able to fit in and overcome the cultural differences. Four months ago I came to Delft for my master’s project. In this little piece I would like to tell you from a humorous perspective about some of the challenges I faced as an international student coming to Delft and how you can overcome them too.

Disclaimer: this text contains irony.
Continue reading Diary of an international student at QuTech

A quantum network stack?


by Axel Dahlberg

Summer is approaching fast! The days until vacation are getting fewer and fewer. But before you can relax at a beach with a cold drink you need to send a bunch of emails. However for some reason the software allowing your computer to connect to the Internet has suddenly vanished. What can you do? Well, maybe you can just manually do whatever this software does. It can’t be too hard right? Or can it…?

The network stack, a collection of of software used by computers to connect to each other and run applications over a network, such as e-mail, social media, file sharing, video streaming etc., used by today’s Internet is crucial to its operation. You use it everyday, but do you know what it actually does? When you send an email to your colleague, how is your email actually transmitted across to a different computer?

Continue reading A quantum network stack?