Herbert J. Bernstein

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Herbert J. Bernstein
Herbert J. Bernstein.jpg

Contact Information


Office: CSC 208
Home Page: http://ns.hampshire.edu/~hjb
Academic Information
Position: Professor of Physics

School: School of Natural Science
Graduate Alma mater: University of California at San Diego



Herbert J. Bernstein is professor of physics. His unique and distinguished approach to the sciences is best represented by the history of ISIS [the Institute for Science & Interdisciplinary Studies] reflected in its web-site, isis.hampshire.edu; the projects on Military Waste Cleanup, Quantum Teleportation, Amazon Ecology, Genomics and ongoing Bohm Scientists' Dialogue have implemented its philosophy -- as outlined in Muddling Through his most recent book. Herb held a visiting scientist position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1984 until 2004. He headed an international research team on modern physics that explored quantum teleportation, computation and communication. It produced a number of "firsts" in these fields and in the philosophical implications of modern sciences. The team's GHZ theorem is the best clear demonstration that there is NO pre-existing microphysical reality -- a prediction and feature of quantum mechanics. Bernstein holds a B.A. from Columbia and M.S. & Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at San Diego, all in physics. He was a post-doctoral Member of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, where he has served for years as Nominating Chair of the Alumni Board of Trustees (and now as Emeritus Trustee).

The American Physical Society cited Herb's broad impact on science when they elected him as a Fellow in 2003. Their citation mentions pioneering work at the start of two fields of physics (neutron interferometry & quantum information theory) and unique contribution to the understanding of science-and-society issues through the ISIS Institute at Hampshire. Herb was a Mina Shaughnessy Scholar, a Kellogg National Leadership Fellow, and recipient of the Sigma Xi Science Honor Society "Procter" Prize. His teaching and research interests include science and society; the effects of modern knowledge; quantum interferometry, information and teleportation; and theoretical modern physics. He is president and chief scientist of the Institute for Science and Interdisciplinary Studies. During a recent sabbatical Professor Bernstein split his time on two coasts as a visiting professor, UCSB (University of California at Santa Barbara), and a Visiting Scholar in the Draper Program at NYU (New York University). He also gave a lecture to 250 Tibetan Buddhists in Mexico City on the proof that there is NO pre-existing reality -- it uses three coins from your pocket as illustrative props. And one summer (2011) he explained some ideas about implications of the Indeterminacy Principle and of the limitations science has discovered to its own processes while doing a modified strip-tease at a conference on "Perceptual Shift: Using the Arts to End Genocides and Internicine War" conference at Jackson Hole Wyoming. You probably had to be there!

Together with a professor at the Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Bernstein convened and helped launch the Anacapa Society, a new national organization of theorists who do serious research while teaching at four-year colleges and universities. Together they led the first Anacapa National Workshop on physics Theory at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions held in Amherst, August 2009. It was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation to Hampshire. Herb's is purportedly the longest reminiscence of Paulo Freire --with whom he worked in the 1980's-- in a recently published Centennial Birthday anniversary volume entiltled "Remembering Paulo." Herb is author & co author of two books, many many scientific papers and a US patent. His latest research is on mutli-dimensional quantum teleportation, entitled "Semi-Teleportation: doing more by trying less." It was the subject of a new NASA grant (via University of Illinois) to fund the actual experiment. When that experiment worked, NASA's Associate Administrator was so impressed that the agency has funded three years of research on how to do quantum communication from outer space to Earth. Under the fancy title of SuperDense Teleportation, the US space agency has sponsored it as an International Space Station-mounted experiment to be our entry in the latest [three-way] mini-space war: will China, Europe or America be the first to send quantum information from low earth orbit back to earth?
 Professor Bernstein has been on sabbatical leave during Spring 2016 and Fall 2016.



Students I Advise


I am active in the fields of quantum interferometry, quantum information/communication/computation, and especially in quantum teleportation. My most recent work involves figuring out ways to teleport MORE quantum information with the same number of classical bits than the original method would allow. Because the improvement requires multi-dimensional entangled states it has only recently becoming experimentally feasible, decades after my first inkling of the technique. The new process is called either "semi-teleportation" or SuperDense teleportation, depending on how megalomaniacal one wants to be! A NASA technology research grant to University of Illinois funded the proof-of-principle experiment in a special NIAC program. It is now funded by NASA HQ to fly on the International Space Station in 2018.

A recent paper "Physics and Geometry of Quantum Teleportation: Does a single particle have a state?" (to appear in Foundations of Physics later in 2016 or early 2017) was stimulated by a conversation with Ted Haensch at a quantum physics conference in Vienna. It disabuses experimentalists of the comfort that some take in a statistical-ensemble interpretation of quantum mechanics which doubts the existence of a wave-function for an individual particle.

Current Projects

Community Involvement

Many years ago, Professor Bernstein served as Faculty Trustee and as a member of the Trustees' Finance Committee. He has served on a College-Wide Affirmative Action committee and many subcommittees for academic and educational policy; next year he may be on the Faculty re-Appointment & Promotion Appeals committee, representing the School of Natural Science.

In the News

Additional Information

Herb has recently been seen wearing a lab coat. This is because theoretical physics is a dirty business. Without proper protection, you might get chalk on your blue blazer and jogging shorts or zip-off hiking pants.

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