Check out this great blog post in Richard Lipton’s and Ken Regan’s wonderful blog (much better than this one). The post is about Jim Simons, an accomplished mathematician turned hedge fund manager and philanthropist. Simons had already endowed a math (and string theory) institute in Stony Brook. Now he is endowing a new institute at U.C Berkeley, one dedicated to computer science.
This is important for quantum computing because computer scientists cannot escape the lure of quantum mechanics. Can a moth resist flying towards the flame of a candle? Can a comet escape the gravitational pull of the Sun? Can flabby humans fend off the Borg?
For me, quantum computing is the byproduct that arises from the collision of two gigantic fields, computer science and quantum physics.
According to the Wikipedia article on him, Jim Simons has done a lot of good deeds with his money, including making donations to organizations concerned with health care and elementary education. It’s interesting that his string theory institute is on the east coast and his new computer science institute will be on the west coast. If he is planning a third science institute, I hope he goes for the geographical center: a quantum computing institute in Texas? (Contrary to what many people believe, not all the inhabitants of Texas are football addled, barbecue sauce smeared, gun-toting, bible thumping, mutant apes. I have a good friend in Austin that has never played American football in his entire life, although he does show a disturbing affinity for the barbie).