Quantum” is a word with several definitions. As a noun—with the plural form “quanta”—it can refer to the smallest indivisible unit. It can also be an adjective meaning “quantum mechanical.”

Yet I am here to argue against its use as an all-encompassing word referring to an alternatingly legitimate and overhyped morass of 21st-century research and the amusingly named “quantum industry.” In addition to being vulgar, this usage is imprecise and leads to vague claims that cannot be evaluated—although that is part of its appeal.

Observe, if you like, the following sentence from page 26 of the December 2021 issue of Physics Today: “Israel’s number of principal investigators ‘at the core of quantum,’ about 125, is low even for a small country, he says.” Come again?

I am a skeptic of quantum technologies who has enjoyed years of research in quantum optics. But even zealous enthusiasts should seek a clear...

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