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Quantum Leap

China's Satellite and the New Arms Race

World's first quantum satellite is launched in Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China, August 16, 2016. China Daily / Reuters

On August 2, 1939, at the dawn of World War II and six months after the discovery of uranium fission, Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard wrote a letter to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Building on Szilard’s work, which had resulted in the first nuclear chain reaction and a patent on the first nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi in the 1930s, Einstein warned Roosevelt that uranium could likely be used to build an atomic bomb. Even more worrying, as U.S. scientists wasted time doubting the potential of nuclear energy and weapons, Germany’s program was advancing rapidly and the country already had access to Czechoslovakian uranium. It is this critical historical moment that the political theorist James Der Derian uses to frame Project Q, an ambitious research project, symposium series, and documentary that explores the international relations implications of a new generation of quantum technologies.

Nearly a century ago,

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