When the Institute for Quantum Information (IQI) was founded in 2000, we needed a logo, and (then) graduate student Andrew Landahl volunteered to produce one:

IQI logo designed by Andrew Landahl.

IQI logo designed by Andrew Landahl in 2001.

It served us well, and even today the Landahl Logo is emblazoned on hats worn by scientists all over the world.

In 2011, when the IQI became part of our larger new center, the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM), a new logo was clearly needed. For a while, other business prevented us from focusing appropriate attention on this task, but this fall Spiros and I worked with the talented graphic designer Margaret Sanchez to create an image that would convey the essence of the IQIM in a visually appealing way.

We decided that the logo, rather than representing any concrete physical system, should instead portray the active role of the observer in the quantum measurement process. And so we eventually settled on:

IQIM logo designed by Margaret Sanchez in 2012.

IQIM logo designed by Margaret Sanchez in 2012.

For optimal viewing I suggest that you push your chair back a few feet from your computer screen. You’ll notice that each of the four characters in the logo is only partially represented; the characters are completed by your act of observation. Your eye also provides some three-dimensional heft to the image. I have been staring at the logo for over a month and it still fascinates me, which I interpret as a sign that it’s a good logo.

We experimented with other colors, especially orange, the Caltech color. But this shade of blue looks particularly nice. And quantum systems are usually cold (though not always), and the blue color suggests low temperature, I guess for reasons having more to do with the hue of chilled human flesh than with the spectrum of black body radiation.

Like any brand aspiring to enter popular culture, the IQIM also requires a tagline, something along the lines of “The truth is out there” (The X-files), “Just do it” (Nike), “Breakfast of Champions” (Wheaties), or “Size does matter” (Godzilla).

After some brainstorming, Spiros and I converged on:

The Big Q, accompanied by the IQIM tagline.

The Big Q, accompanied by the IQIM tagline.

“Nature is subtle” is a play on Einstein’s famous pronouncement: “Raffiniert ist der Herrgott aber boshaft ist er nicht” (Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not). For all his genius, Einstein underestimated the subtlety of nature when he derisively dismissed quantum entanglement as “Spukhafte Fernwirkungen” (Spooky action at a distance). The mission of the IQIM is to relish, explore, and exploit the glorious subtlety of the quantum world in all its facets and ramifications.