Aeromodeler Dave Wineland Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics
As you might know if you have been an RF Cafe visitor for a while, my life-long hobby has been model aviation. Many
notable people have similarly been aeromodelers from a young age, including aircraft designer
Burt Rutan, Space Shuttle astronaut
Robert "Hoot" Gibson, radio personality
Harvey, actor and WWII bomber pilot
Jimmy Stewart, Olympiad Bruce Jenner,
catamaran and surfboard designer Hobart "Hobie" Alter,
to name a few. Physicist
Dr. David (Dave) Wineland has just been added to the list since he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in December
for his work on quantum computing. The Academy of Model Aeronautics' (AMA)
monthly magazine Model Aviation
printed an interview with Dr. Wineland in the January 2013 edition, where he discusses his history with model airplanes
and his work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
in Boulder, Colorado. Model Model Aviation
editor Jay Smith granted permission for me to reprint the article here on RF Cafe since it will likely be of interest
to engineers and scientists who visit the website.
appeared in the January 2013 edition of
Model Aviation, a publication of the
Academy of Model Aviation (AMA). Thanks to Editor Jay Smith for permission to reprint it here.
Dave Wineland Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics
David Wineland, Ph.D is as humble and soft
spoken as they come. A 68-yearold scientist with degrees from CalBerkeley and Harvard, his job title is Group Leader
in the Time/Frequency Division at the National Institute of Standards (NIST), the so-called "atomic clock." He is
a long-time AMA member and lover of model airplanes, and he just was announced as co-winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize
in Physics, to bee awarded at a ceremony in Sweden on December 10, 2012.
Don DeLoach spoke briefly with Dr.
Wineland about model airplanes, quantum computing, and the mind-blowing attention he's received since being announced
October 9, 2012, as a Nobel Laureate.
DD: Do you remember your first model airplanes? How
old were you?
DW: Oh, I'm not sure. It was certainly before I was 10 years old, so the early
1950s I guess. I actually still have it, a scalelike solid display model from a StromBecKer kit.
What about your first experience with flying models
DW: California in the 1950s was an amazing place for kids who loved model airplanes. In those days,
I'd ride my bike down to the schoolyard where there were always guys flying Control Line, so that was my first type
of flying model. But there were Free Flight airplanes around, too, and I was always most interested in those. My family
lived in Sacramento and there was a Free Flight field close to Mather AFB, off of Eagles Nest Road. That was the home
field of the Capital Condors club. It was a 30-minute car ride so it took a bit of convincing to get my parents to
drive me up there, but wow! Those guys really knew how to fly FF and I was entranced by them.
is Dave with his
in 2006 in Denver. This is his original 1980 Nats winner in D Gas. The model is immaculate and is a consistent
contest winner. Don DeLoach photo.
very young Dave Wineland. The year is 1954 and the place is Sacramento, CA. Photo provided by Dave Wineland.
What other inspiring model airplane memories stick out from those days?
DW: A quick story:
As a kid I of course didn't know anything about flight trimming, but somehow got airplane in a thermal, and friends
and I tried to chase it on bikes. The wind was pretty calm but the model flew so high it went out of sight. Miraculously,
about an hour later, the mode landed a hundred yards from where it was launched.
did you first join AMA?
DW: I got back into model in the early 1970s, after graduate school.
I was in Seattle then, as a postdoctoral researcher, and joined AMA about then.
DD: Talk about
your mentors. Or did you learn in a vacuum?
DW: I pretty much learned on my own. In the neighborhood
it was just us kids - I couldn't get my dad hooked.
DD: Did you maintain contact with any
of those old modeling friends?
DW: Yes. One just sent me a note about the Nobel Prize last
DD: Why are you into aeromodeling?
DW: Well, this is hard to
put into words. I guess it's just the emotion I feel when watching them fly. It rekindles a lot of magical memories
DD: Why Free Flight?
DW: Free Flight is so pure and
challenging. I like the contrasts inherent in high-powered models - the speed of the climb followed by the slow-motion
DD: Talk about your club, the Magnificant Mountain Men.
by the early '70s I really wanted to do Free Flight again. I was hired at NIST, which was then called the national
Bureau of Standards, and moved to Boulder, Colorado, in 1975. I knew about the Magnificent Mountain Men FF club and
joined immediately after visiting the field. George Batiuk and Bill Gieskieng [both FF Hall of Fame members] were
there. Dean Carpenter was a good friend with whom I hit it off right away.
DD: What is your
favorite model and why?
DW: I like the looks of the Satellite the best. I never had the greatest success with it. It is harder
to build and fly than some of the simpler designs, but it is this challenge that interests me.
|David J. Wineland
||1944, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
||Nationanl Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, Colorado, University of Colorado
|University of California, Berkeley;
Harvard University; University of Washington
--------- Awards ---------
||Davisson-Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics
||William F. Meggers Award of the Optical Society of America
||Einstein Prize for Laser Science of the Society of Optical and Quantum Electronics
||Rabi Award from the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control Society
||Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science
||Frederic Ives Medal, Optical Society of America
||National Medal of Science in the engineering sciences
|Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Award
||Herbert Walther Award, Optical Society of America
||Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics (shared with Juan Ignacio Cirac and Peter Zoller)
||Nobel Prize in Physics (shared with Serge Haroche)
What is your most significant accomplishment in aeromodeling?
DW: Gosh, I don't know. I won
FF Gas events at the AMA Nationals in 1980 and 1981, but it wouldn't have mattered if I had not won. What I enjoyed
was being at the Nats with everyone else and sharing the same interest. That was fun.
To what/whom do you attribute your career success?
DW: Well this is hard to single out. My
dad was a civil engineer. Dad's work ethic certainly rubbed off on me. But it really hard to say. There were lots
of good people in my corner over the years, so I was lucky. I had good support from my boss and my boss's bos.
DD: Did you always know you were going to be a physicist? At what age did you know this?
DW: I took physics class as a senior in high school. I thought, "Wow, this is cool!" and wanted
to stick with it. I also enjoyed literature but thought I should pursue a career with more earning potential.
DD: What message do you have for today's youth who want to pursue a career path similar to yours?
DW: Model builders have a lot of the qualities that we need in experimental physics. One contrast
we see with grad students is many are great with devices like computers, but most have not worked with their hands
before. Model builders are naturals at this. A model-building background is perfect. When you build a wing on an airplane
you have to build it to a certain strength or it will break. This is hard to teach except from practical experience.
DD: Talk about your research bit. How far in the future is a quantum computer (QC), and what
will it mean for mankind?
DW: Don't invest in any quantum computing companies yet (laughs).
On a serious note, we can make very small QCs now, but they are so small they are not really useful yet. But the technology
is definitely coming along. Ina decade or so I feel optimistic that there will be a WC that will actually do
something useful, or at least tell us something important.
DD: What are the differences between
quantum computing and classical computing?
DW: In our lab at NIST we confine individual atomic
ions, like a marble in a fish bowl. At the small scale, the marble (ion) rolls in a bowl. We have now learned how
to put that ion in a "superposition" state., that is, it can be on both the right side and the left side of the bowl
at the same time, which of course makes no sense in the ordinary day experience. Now, with classical computers (CC),
like your laptop for example, the basic info is stored in a binary code, combinations of ones and zeroes. With quantum
computers we can use small quantum states to represent the memory as ones and zeroes at the same time. With
that kind of memory efficiency in QC we can store more information in three hundred quantum bits than we can with
a classical computer made from all the matter in the universe. This is known as exponential scaling; it does not exist
in the CC world. Now, we still need classical computers to run our tiny QC. But in the long term, a larger scale QC
would be able to solve certain large problems that would be impossible in a CC.
DD: How many
other groups are working in your branch of quantum physics?
DW: We are working on charge atoms.
There are now about 35 groups around the world doing research similar to the work of our group. An there are five
to 10 other physica lplatforms devote to this problem of qunatum computing. We at NIST are on one cog of a pretty
DD: You're 68. What does the future hold for you? Retirement?
Not sure but it won't be because I've lost my interest in science. I now deal with more administrative stuff than
I'd like. And I wish I had more time for modeling!
DD: Any parting thoughts?
DW: Well, the Nobel Prize gets a huge amount of attention, which is amazing to me. Unfortunately,
it focuses on a couple individuals. This is not representative of how science works because advances only come from
the efforts of many people working on a common problem. The award could esaily have gone to some of my other colleagues.
- Don DeLoach
Note: I apologize for any errors that may have crept in as I typed in the text
form the magazine hard copy.