Quantum leap in Trudeau's popularity

Mr Justin Trudeau delivering a speech in Montreal this month. Elected last October, the Canadian PM continues to win applause both at home and abroad.
Mr Justin Trudeau delivering a speech in Montreal this month. Elected last October, the Canadian PM continues to win applause both at home and abroad.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

OTTAWA • He has impressed world leaders, has a growing army of fans - many female - and is even credited with driving up tourism to Canada.

But photogenic Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has now displayed another gift even few of his most ardent supporters knew he had: a more than passable knowledge of quantum computing.

The Internet was abuzz with gushing praise for the 44-year-old Trudeau after a journalist jokingly asked him on Friday to explain quantum computing while he was on a visit to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario.

Instead of looking puzzled and joining in with the joke, Mr Trudeau set about giving a detailed answer that had experts at the Perimeter Institute nodding approvingly and that brought the packed audience to its feet.

"Don't interrupt me," he said mischievously, a grin forming on his face, before launching seamlessly into his explanation, which was punctuated by giggles from the admiring audience and culminated in cheers and applause.

"A regular computer bit is either a one or a zero, either on or off. A quantum state can be much more complex than that because, as we know, things can be both particle and wave at the same time, and the uncertainty around quantum states allows us to encode more information into a much smaller computer. So that's what's exciting about quantum computing," he said as the crowd erupted into applause.

"Don't get me going on this or we'll be here all day, trust me," the Liberal leader concluded, to more laughs.

Twitter lathered itself into a froth as footage of Mr Trudeau's answer went viral.

"I love Justin Trudeau. I wanna be Canadian," one user tweeted, while another wrote: "Hope I'm not falling into a mania... but Trudeau explaining quantum computing is pretty great."

Mr Trudeau had earlier affirmed C$50 million (S$53 million) in funding over five years to "strengthen the Perimeter Institute's position as a world-leading research centre in helping advance Canada's role as a leader in the global scientific community" focusing on theoretical physics.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2016, with the headline 'Quantum leap in Trudeau's popularity'. Print Edition | Subscribe