Quantum Inf Process (2012) 11:633–636
Christopher A. Fuchs: Coming of age with quantum
information: notes on a Paulian idea
Cambridge University Press
© All rights reserved 2011
In post-Stalin Soviet Union, dissidents used underground networks to distribute cen-
sored material. This activity, which was called samizdat (translates to “self-published”)
put its practitioners at grave risk. Though certainly not nearly as risky, it requires
substantial courage for scientists to “come out” and make public their philosophi-
cal thoughts. It likewise requires a large dose of chutzpah for one to publish one’s
own emails as a book. In “Coming of Age with Quantum Information” Christopher
Fuchs—who is a Senior Researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics,
in Waterloo, Canada—does both of these things. The book grew out of his correspon-
dence with friends and colleagues between 1995 and 2001. and which he started to
distribute—also electronically—as his “samizdat”.
Among the “subversives” that were—knowingly or not—dragged into Chris’ sam-
izdat bv corresponding with him are many leading quantum information scientists:
Charles Bennett, Gilles Brassard, Carlton Caves, Rolf Landauer, David Mermin, Asher
Peres, John Preskill, Abner Shimony, Bill Wootters, Anton Zeilinger, among others.
The conversations are often about technical aspects of quantum information. But above
all, these very interesting and often very personal letters, full of scholarship, excite-
ment, enthusiasm and perplexity, are about a passionate young scientist’s attempts to
come to grips with “the message quantum theory is trying to tell us”.
In contrast with the Soviet dissidents, Fuchs takes a philosophical position that is,
among the plethora of interpretations of quantum theory, well aligned with mainstream
thought—that is to say, well aligned with the operationalist philosophy defended by
Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli, the view referred to as the “Copen-
hagen interpretation.” Indeed, Fuchs says that he is “concerned by the growing aban-
donment of standard (Copenhagen) quantum mechanics that I see all around me”.
E. Cavalcanti (
Grifﬁth University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia