How to charge a quantum Battery

The new semester is going to start soon and with it our Naturwissenschaftscafè is going to continue. Hopefully all of you had relaxing holidays and were able to recharge your energy.

The topic of the next meeting is going to be “How to charge a quantum Battery” and will be prepared by Ben. It will take place on the 28th of February at 19:00 in Cafè Tunnel.

To get some insight on the topic pleas consider reading the provided literature:

  • To get the idea of why it is even important to think about the problem of charging a battery please read Enhancing the charging power of quantum batteries:
  • To read into the protocol Ben is using, you can read Page 12-14 of Precision and Work Fluctuations in Gaussian Battery Charging:

Since this is a rather specialized topic and we are a very interdisciplinary community Ben will keep it rather basic. So please don’t hesitate to come if the topic makes you interested.

Besides that there will be an organizational discussion about the day and time of our meetings in the new semester and some other stuff.


Explainable AI

With ever more powerful and ubiquitous artificial intelligence (AI) questions arise about how these inscrutable black-box systems arrive at their decisions, which can have serious legal or health-related consequences, such as in autonomous cars or tumor recognition.

In 2016 the US Department of Defense (DARPA) started an initiative on explainable AI (XAI) to investigate how to answer these questions. In May 2018 the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect, with especially article 21 “Right to object” and article 22 “Automated individual decision-making, including profiling” giving subjects the right to object against ‘any decision based solely on automated processing[, meaning AI], […] which produces legal effects concerning [the subject] or similarly significantly affects him or her.’ (cited from article 22)

In the light of these initiatives to investigate and to regulate the usage and misuse of AI, we will have a look at and discuss both the technical concepts and solutions at play, and the regulatory law and how to devise it such that it works to the greatest benefit of all.

Therefore, please read at least the material of level 1 to prepare for our next meeting on Wednesday 31st January 7:30pm 2018 in Tunnel Vienna, Florianigasse 39, 1080 Vienna.


Level 1

Read this very accessible article on the topic by the the New York Times.

Level 2

Also read these articles critical towards the GDPR and the DARPA viewpoint, and have a look at the Wikipedia articles on XAI and the Right to Explanation as attempted to be installed in the GDPR.

Level 3

Dig deep into the legal framework of the EU’s GDPR (especially Recital 71) and see for yourself how this affects future AI development.


Picture credit:

Lecture series on foundations of science: Scientific Realism

Whether there exists something ‘real’ to be described by science is one of the oldest question in philosophy of science, and it is one of the fundamental pillars on which scientific disciplines are built. In particular, are theoretical entities introduced by scientific theories merely useful predictive tools, or rather do they offer a faithful description of an outside ‘real’ world? Do we have scientific (i.e. non-metaphysical) methods to discriminate between these world views?

In this regard, foundations of natural sciences were shaken by the advent of quantum mechanics. Indeed, this theory demolished most of the a priori ideas, upon which classical theories were built, including the conception of reality. Crucial fundamental issues in quantum theory, such as the ontological status of the wave function and of the properties of particles are still heatedly debated. As D. Mermin pointed out, “today, nearly 90 years after its formulation, disagreement about the meaning of the [quantum] theory is stronger than ever. New interpretations appear every day. None ever disappear”.

Despite the importance of the concept of realism for science, fundamental issues of such a kind are rarely treated in as much detail as they would deserve in university courses. Therefore, a group of students of the University of Vienna from different scientific fields (see have organised a lecture series devoted to the subject of scientific realism. The lecture series will consist of nine lectures (in SS 2018), held by some of the most prominent (both international and local) professors in the field of foundations of quantum mechanics and philosophy of science. Moreover, the lecture series will be an official course of the University of Vienna, for which students could get ECTS upon passing an exam.

Further information can be found on Ufind under the following link:

This initiative has been stimulated also by a very successful (over 200 attendees) symposium on foundations of science, entitled “Shut Up and Contemplate!”, which was organised in March 2017 (


What is Fundamental?

In our next meeting Flavio will discuss the question “What is Fundamental?” and expound his and Chiara’s viewpoint on the topic. The meeting will take place on the 17th of January at 8pm in Tunnel Vienna.

The Topic was inspired by the Community Essay Contest of  Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi), in which Flavio and Chiara participate. Their essay “Demolishing prejudices to get to the foundations” can be found and commented under the following link:

To have some structure, the suggested way of reading the essay is:

  • Level 1-general idea:
    Until page 6, second paragraph (the one ending with “for every future scientifically significant theory.”)
  • Level 2-examples from physics:
    the whole text

Quantum Brain Dynamics

The next Naturwissenschaftscafé will take place on the 19th of December at 20:00 in Tunnel Vienna.

This time Moe will talk about Quantum Brain Dynamics and how current studies in Quantum Biology and Neuroscience deal with phenomena like “Quantum Conciousness” and quantum information processing in the brain.

The topics discussed are highly speculative and may contain some philosophic and even esoteric components. When reading into the field, I got the feeling that it is very important to stay open AND critical. I’m looking forward to an open discussion, because there seems to be no consensus in the scientific community whatsoever.

I will start with a short introduction in Neural Network Theory and how its assumptions are based on classical physics.

Then I want to give you an overview about the hypothesis that sparked the speculative discussion about “Quantum Conciousness”, which was developed by Penrose and Hameroff in the 90s.

And finally, I would like to talk about the current status of Quantum Neuroscience and which hypothesis have been killed by in-depth analysis:


and which are still alive:

For the preperation of the discussion it would be ideal to watch the first video, read the abstract of the arxiv paper and the quantamagzine article 🙂

Additional Literature:

Prisoners Dilemma Tournaments

The next meeting will take place on the 15.11. at 20:00 at the Tunnel Vienna.
The topic this time is going to be: Prisoners Dilemma Tournaments

Please have a look at the literature provided:

1)  Definition and Basic Game Theory of the Prisoners Dilemma

This website contains a lot of information on game theory in general and gives an introduction. You can read the linked page but also proceed to further topics or clarify certain terms in previous basic chapters. In the NWC however we will focus on the concept of the Prisoners Dilemma.

2) Expand the concept: Iterated Prisoners Dilemma

The case becomes interesting once the Dilemma is iterated several times and/or played among different people using their own strategy. The optimal strategies in such tournaments lead to different interpretation and have significance in many fields. Here are 3 articles presenting different successful strategies. All shortly review what the Prisoners Dilemma is ( you might want to skip these parts )

Tit for Tat and altruism:
Zero Determinant Games and the evolution of cooperation:
Tribalism and the importance of communication:

Additionally: These are some online Simulators to check the payoff of your own strategies.  Hope you manage to navigate through the Interface.

3) Sourcecodes

Stanfords Plato:

A generalization of the IPD is allowing strategies chosen due to probabilities. The so called Stochastic Iterated Prisoner Dilemma has quite a mathematical body (see also zero determinant games). Take a dip with google!

Additional historic information on IPD Tournaments:

If you proceed on this page with NEXT you will find all the different strategies together with their code which took stage during Axelrods first IPD Contest.

Editing genomes with CRISPR

The next meeting will take place on the 18.10. at 19:30 at the Tunnel Vienna.
The topic this time is going to be: Editing genomes with CRISPR, between scientific breakthroughs and societal challenges

Please have a look at the literature provided:

Watch this video to have a basic understanding what CRISPR is and why it is so revolutionary for genome editing:

CRISPR “history”:

Should you edit your children’s genes?

Welcome to the CRISPR Zoo:

How CRISPR works on a molecular Level:

Attend after our discussion the “editing genomes with CRISPR, between scientific breakthroughs and societal challenges” symposium! The symposium is for free and it will take place on the 19 + 20.10.17. If you want to go there you have to register until the 13.10.17 here:

what can you experience at the symposium:
  • An open dialogue between the scientific community (ranging from life scientists, to social scientists, and beyond) and civil society, discussing ongoing applications of the CRISPR technology, expected and envisioned developments, and the benefits, caveats and consequences of this technology’s applications;
  • provide a platform for public engagement on this topic, enabling researchers involved in the CRISPR field to interact with citizens, regulators, and stakeholders;
  • raise these issues in a European context, in order to facilitate the development of a European engagement with this revolution.