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

By George Johnson

ISBN-10: 0375726187

ISBN-13: 9780375726187

During this remarkably illustrative and punctiliously available examine essentially the most exciting frontiers in technology and desktops, award-winning big apple instances author George Johnson finds the interesting international of quantum computing—the holy grail of large pcs the place the computing strength of unmarried atoms is harnassed to create machines in a position to nearly unbelievable calculations within the blink of an eye.As machine chips proceed to scale down in dimension, scientists expect the tip of the line: a working laptop or computer during which every one change is made out of a unmarried atom. any such gadget could function below a distinct set of actual legislation: The legislation of quantum mechanics. Johnson lightly leads the curious outsider during the strangely easy rules had to comprehend this dream, discussing the present kingdom of the revolution, and eventually assessing the amazing energy those machines may have to alter our international.

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Extra info for A Shortcut Through Time: The Path to the Quantum Computer

Example text

Shine a beam of photons at a piece of paper, and between the source and its tar­ get place the barrier with two holes. First cover one of the open­ ings so that a single blob of light is projected onto the paper. Then cover the second hole instead. The blob shifts from one position to the other. Finally open both holes. The image on the other side is not, as might be expected, two blobs of light side by side. The waves coming from both slits interfere with each other like water waves and leave a pattern of light and dark stripes, marking the places where the waves reinforce or offset each other.

Something must be missing from the theory. Einstein liked to challenge commonplace assumptions with fanciful thought experiments. An early breakthrough in his the­ ory of relativity came when he considered the contradictions that would arise if one could travel fast enough to catch up with a beam of light. The waves would appear to be standing still, it seemed, and it wouldn't be light anymore. In their attack on quantum mechanics, he and his collabora­ tors tried to prove that it led to an absurd conclusion.

The Pentium 4 processor introduced at the beginning of the millennium is packed with millions of little switches silently clattering more than a billion times a second. But there is a lot of shrinking yet to be done. Small as they are, the switches are each made from a billion or so atoms. If Moore's Law continues to hold, the logical outcome is a switch a single atom in size. A chip filled with so many submicroscopic devices would be formidable indeed. But something more fundamental happens at this scale.

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

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