A Shortcut Through Time: The Path to the Quantum Computer by George Johnson PDF

By George Johnson

ISBN-10: 0375726187

ISBN-13: 9780375726187

During this remarkably illustrative and carefully obtainable examine essentially the most exciting frontiers in technological know-how and desktops, award-winning long island occasions author George Johnson unearths the attention-grabbing international of quantum computing—the holy grail of tremendous pcs the place the computing strength of unmarried atoms is harnassed to create machines able to nearly incredible calculations within the blink of an eye.As computing device chips proceed to minimize in dimension, scientists count on the top of the line: a working laptop or computer during which every one change is made out of a unmarried atom. this type of machine may function lower than a unique set of actual legislation: The legislation of quantum mechanics. Johnson lightly leads the curious outsider during the unusually uncomplicated rules had to comprehend this dream, discussing the present country of the revolution, and finally assessing the impressive strength those machines may have to alter our global.

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5 . " Attached to each of these spools was a protruding finger. The result was a mechanical claw that combed its way through the Tinkertoy database feeling for a match. When the pattern of Tinkertoy spools on one of the memory spindles meshed with the pattern on the input stick, the latter would rotate. This action caused an output contrap­ tion, called a "duck," to swing down, p ecking at the number of the cell in which the computer wished to make its mark. Both Tinkertoy computers, the earlier version and the later one, embody the same abstract idea: Information can be repre­ sented by anything that can reside in one of two distinct states­ a switch turned on or off or a Tinkertoy that is here or there.

The result is an obediently deterministic contraption that can be used to simulate other deterministic contraptions: the mechanical motion inside a gasoline engine, the patterns of traf­ fic in a city, or the workings of another computer. In fact, given enough memory and time, any computer can simulate any other computer. This is one of the deepest principles of computer sci­ ence. An ancient Radio Shack or Apple with a cassette tape drive for a memory can mimic a supercomputer like Q. Churning through all the calculations might take centuries and ware­ houses full of tape, but for both machines the most basic opera­ tions, the shuffling of l s and Os, are equivalent.

When it hits the glass, the bundle of possibilities comes undone. One of the outcomes is ran­ domly chosen. Again, the choice has nothing to do with slight imperfections not taken into account in the analysis. The ran­ domness is fundamental. There are no perfect analogies with the reality we perceive, no way to get a firm mental grip. But approximations can help. Think of the music coming from the vibrating cone of a loud­ speaker. This undulating wave is made from a complex of inter­ laced sounds: <

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A Shortcut Through Time: The Path to the Quantum Computer by George Johnson


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