Why is Aachen better than New York?

Text: Kilian Kirchgeßner

There’s this line David DiVincenzo still gets from friends: “Hey David”, they say, “we hear you’re in Germany for a sabbatical!” No, he then patiently explains: he’s not just in Aachen for a short break, he’s here for his research – and more to the point, he’s here permanently. He has left New York City and works here now, researching the future of computers. DiVincenzo was one of the first physicists to become involved in quantum information science back in the 1980s; in Germany he is now putting together a team of the highest-profile experts in the field. Their aim is to build a quantum computer – a computer based on an entirely different functional principle than that of today’s computers. It would allow calculations that are so complex that no previous computer has been able to handle them. And why in Aachen, of all places? “Conditions for basic research are ideal here”, he says; both the university and the nearby Forschungszentrum Jülich are excellently equipped – and his family with its European roots loves being in good old Europe. Finally, DiVincenzo does permit himself a little smile when he compares New York and Aachen. “It’s not as if I was living at Times Square in New York either”, he says then. He doesn’t feel he’s missing anything at all in Aachen – “but sometimes I think: that cosmopolitan feeling, you do get that a bit more in New York!”