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Watson Lecture on May 11: Scott Cushing on What We Can Learn from Quantum Entanglement

On Wednesday, May 11, at 5 p.m. PDT, Scott Cushing, Caltech assistant professor of chemistry and KNI-Wheatley Scholar in Nanoscience, will continue the 2021–22 Watson Lecture season with "What Entanglement Can Tell Us About Our World."

Entanglement refers to a connection that can occur between quantum particles even when they are far apart from each other. Entanglement underpins everything from quantum teleportation to the quantum computation revolution. In this lecture, Cushing will discuss a less-explored aspect of entanglement: what we can learn about both small and somewhat larger objects when they are forced to interact with entangled photons. The knowledge gained from these new tools, Cushing says, could lead to cutting-edge technologies.

"People are looking at using entanglement for LIDAR, for self-driving cars," he notes. "They're looking at it … for creating new ways to test health or to image your brain and to go and actually explore these in more depth than currently possible. There is also the field of quantum information sciences.That's the idea of basically making these new types of communication, whether they're high-level encryption or just new ways [to] transmit data over large distances."

A West Virginia native, Cushing grew up working on cars, taking on mechanic jobs, and fixing whatever broke in his grandparents' home. Because of this interest in tinkering with machines, he aspired to be an engineer—at least until a fateful laboratory tour during college. "I was in a physics laboratory and they showed me a laser," Cushing said. "And I [said], 'Shut down everything. That is going to be my career.' I love laser."

Cushing, who joined Caltech in 2018, focuses on the creation of new scientific instrumentation that can use ultrafast lasers and electrons to translate quantum phenomena into practical devices and applications. The Cushing lab is currently pioneering the use of high-flux, compact sources of entangled photons for microscopy and spectroscopy, as well as exploring attosecond (one quintillionth of a second) X-ray and time-resolved electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) approaches in systems varying from solar materials to batteries to molecules. He was named the 2021 KNI-Wheatley Scholar for his proposal to develop entangled photon sources capable of exploiting quantum advantages in multiphoton nonlinear spectroscopy.

The 2021–2022 Watson Lectures are free, open to the public, and presented virtually one Wednesday each month of the series at 5 p.m. at This lecture will also be open to the public for in-person attendance in Beckman Auditorium on the Caltech campus.

Since 1922, the Earnest C. Watson Lectures have brought Caltech's most innovative scientific research to the public. The series is named for Earnest C. Watson, a professor of physics at Caltech from 1919 until 1959. Spotlighting a small selection of the pioneering research Caltech's professors are currently conducting, the Watson Lectures are geared toward a general audience as part of the Institute's ongoing commitment to benefiting the local community through education and outreach.

The Watson Lectures are part of the Caltech Signature Lecture Series, which offers a deep dive into the groundbreaking research and scientific breakthroughs at Caltech and JPL. For information, please visit

Questions? Contact the Caltech Ticket Office via email at or leave a message at (626) 395-4652. Please allow 48 hours for a response. Reservations are not required to attend the Watsons Lectures online or in person.

Written by Andrew Moseman

Andrew Moseman