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  • Age
    30
  • Title
    Senior research scientist and quantum electronics engineer
  • Company
    Google Research

Marissa Giustina is a member of “the supremes”—not the 1960s Motown act, but the team of Google brainiacs that last year performed the world’s first convincing demonstration of “quantum supremacy.” She helped build a quantum computer that could complete in about 200 seconds a computational task that would take an ordinary computer more than 10,000 years to calculate—an unprecedented feat. Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, compared the achievement to “building the first rocket that successfully left Earth’s gravity to touch the edge of space.” Giustina joined Google in 2016 after receiving a Ph.D. in experimental quantum physics from the University of Vienna. Her thesis settled a longstanding scientific debate about quantum “entanglement,” a strange, particle-related phenomenon that Albert Einstein once described as “spooky action at a distance.” Giustina showed, conclusively, in an experiment that took place in the basement of a Habsburg palace, that no known physical mechanism explains the weirdness of entanglement. (In other words, it’s spooky after all.) Her work isn’t over; she’s continuing to design futuristic hardware in the hopes of creating the world’s first useful quantum computer—one that will, as she put it during a presentation in December, “enable us to solve problems which would otherwise be impossible.”

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