Sunday, December 16, 2018

How to stop Copenhagen collapses

A philosophy of science article says:
In the science fiction novel Quarantine, Greg Egan imagines a universe where interactions with human observers collapse quantum wavefunctions. Aliens, unable to collapse wavefunctions, tire of being slaughtered by these collapses. In response they erect an impenetrable shield around the solar system, protecting the rest of the universe from human interference and locking humanity into a starless Bubble.
This is funny. This would be the logical conclusion of some explanations of the Copenhagen interpretation.

With no humans to make observations, space aliens might happily live in Schroedinger cat states, where they are half-alive and half-dead.

This sort of thought experiment drives a lot of cosmologists to reject Copenhagen, and believe in many-worlds or some other nonsense.

Another web paper says:
In popular articles about quantum computing it’s common to describe qubits as having the ability to “be in both |0>|0> and |1>|1> states at once”, and to say things like “quantum computers get their power because they can simultaneously be in exponentially many quantum states!”

I must confess, I don’t understand what such articles are talking about.
Those explanations are common because of that stupid Schroedinger cat story, so bits can be on and off at the same time.

Scott Aaronson is a believer in quantum computing, but he often explains that it is a false myth that quantum computers get their power from qubits being in two states at the same time.

So where do quantum computers get their alleged power? That is never convincingly explained. Aaronson has tried many times, and I think that he is writing another book on the subject. Sometimes he says it is from negative probabilities or some other obscure quantum technicality. He has never been able to get his point across to science journalists, so he has quit talking to them.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Deriving the constancy of light speed

Lots of theoretical physicists, such as string theorists, try to derive physical laws from first principles, instead of relying on observation or experiment.

When has this ever worked?

Some people think that Einstein created special relativity this way. That is completely false, and special relativity was developed directly from experiment.

Nevertheless, it seems possible that special relativity could have been derived from first principles. Here is a recent paper that gives such a derivation:
An exposition of special relativity without appeal to "constancy of speed of light" hypotheses

We present the theory of special relativity here through the lens of differential geometry. In particular, we explicitly avoid any reference to hypotheses of the form "The laws of physics take the same form in all inertial reference frames" and "The speed of light is constant in all inertial reference frames", or to any other electrodynamic phenomenon. For the author, the clearest understanding of relativity comes about when developing the theory out of just the primitive concept of time (which is also a concept inherent in any standard exposition) and the basic tenets of differential geometry.
I have made similar arguments on this blog, as well as taking it further to electromagnetism and the standard model of particles.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

SciAm joins the attack on Black patriarchy

Fifty years ago, Scientific American was the best general-interest science magazine in the world. It is still good, but has gone downhill, both in promoting schlock science and adhering to leftist politics. Eg, see this ridiculous article saying that the USA needs DACA privileges for illegal aliens in order to do science research.

I mentioned MeToo allegations against a prominent science popularizer, and now SciAm piles on:
But my own experience—backed by data—teaches me that Black patriarchy is real and the harm specifically to Black women is significant. In this case, the harm is multidimensional ...

It’s true that some details of these allegations have yet to be corroborated, ... But in my view, I believe the claims are credible, which means he directly harmed multiple women, most egregiously by allegedly raping a member of his own already marginalized community.
She says this in spite of the fact that she knows the guy personally, and has never seen him do anything inappropriate. She and SciAm explain the uppercase Black:
I have chosen to capitalize the word “Black” and lowercase “white” throughout this book. I believe “Black” constitutes a group, an ethnicity equivalent to African-American, Negro, or, in terms of a sense of ethnic cohesion, Irish, Polish, or Chinese. I don’t believe that whiteness merits the same treatment. Most American whites think of themselves as Italian-American or Jewish or otherwise relating to other past connections that Blacks cannot make because of the familial and national disruptions of slavery. So to me, because Black speaks to an unknown familial/national past it deserves capitalization.
No, this is so stupid and illogical that it is embarrassing to see it on I had no idea that some editors believe that Whites are not worthy of an uppercase W. I think that I will start capitalizing the word.

Saying "multiple women" makes it sound as if there are similar or corroborrating allegations, but there are not. One involved a women who was showing off a shoulder tattoo while taking a selfie with him at a party, and he looked to see if the tattoo included Pluto. He would have been rude not to look for Pluto, considering he wrote a book on whether Pluto is a planet.

Saying "claims are credible", just means that someone told a story about events 30 years ago that could have happened. There is no evidence other than someone telling a story 30 years after the fact. From that she leaps to saying that this means that he raped a black girl as part of the "Black patriarchy".

This looks like libel to me, but there is no practical legal remedy. I would rather not even mention his name.

Here is more politicized science, from Scott Aaronson:
Michael Says: I’m surprised you didn’t mention the big one- where can we find evidence that Donald Trump conspired with the Russians?

Scott Says: Michael #26: Again, not worth wasting a question on. Facts in the public record made it obvious since even before the election that they did collude, modulo uninteresting hairsplitting about the meaning of “collude.” Like, Trump openly urged the Russians to hack the emails. In the norms that used to apply, in the world that made minimal sense, that would already count as collusion and prevent him from being president (along with ~500 other violations of basic democratic norms). I’d rather ask the NP-genie: what can we do or say to get back to that world?
No, Trump did not openly urge the Russians to hack the emails. Even if he did, anything done in the open is not a conspiracy. And there is no law against a presidential candidate colluding with the Russians to seek support.

SciAm columnists and Aaronson are entitled to their political opinions, of course, but we have a scientific and academic establishment that is overwhelmingly leftist, and extraordiarily gullible in believing claims that support their leftist politics. I do not trust them when they give opinions on global warming or quantum computing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

How the apple inspired Newton

A physics blogger writes:
As someone whose job it is to help people understand and appreciate physics, I absolutely hate the way most people talk about Isaac Newton and how he developed his theory of gravity. It's not the apple bit that I have a problem with; that's an important part of the story, and even historically accurate!

I always assumed that Isaac Newton's big insight upon seeing the apple fall was that the Moon was falling from the same gravity.

This article says that there is evidence that Newton really was inspired by an apple, but his big insight was that the Earth was pulling on the apple in the same way that the apple was pulling on the Earth. The Earth also falls toward the apple, ever so slightly.
We can thank this little touch of plague for virtually all of Newton's scientific legacy: in that single impromptu gap year, he had his epiphany about gravity, discovered that white light is made up of all the colors in the spectrum, and basically invented calculus.
The problem with that story is that Newton got involved in nasty priority fights over ideas that he failed to publish until many years later. So he could be exaggerating how much he figured out in that year.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Deutsch says single universe is stone dead

Quanta mag has an article about a recent paper on how the Wigner's friend paradox should unfluence interpretations of quantum mechanics:
Now, a new thought experiment is confronting these assumptions head-on and shaking the foundations of quantum physics.
This is interesting, but it does not affect any predictions of quantum mechanics. It only involves what one observer thinks that another observer is seeing.
Deutsch thinks the thought experiment will continue to support many-worlds. “My take is likely to be that it kills wave-function-collapse or single-universe versions of quantum theory, but they were already stone dead,” he said. “I’m not sure what purpose it serves to attack them again with bigger weapons.”
He is a die-hard supporter of the many-worlds interpretation. He apparently thinks that other interpretations have been shown to be "stone dead".

It is a little crazy to think that some stupid thought experiment is convincing about the existence of non-observable parallel universes.

Friday, December 7, 2018

China Has the Lead in Quantum Encryption

The NY Times reports:
The Race Is On to Protect Data From the Next Leap in Computers. And China Has the Lead.

The world’s leading technology companies, from Google to Alibaba in China, are racing to build the first quantum computer, a machine that would be far more powerful than today’s computers.

This device could break the encryption that protects digital information, putting at risk everything from the billions of dollars spent on e-commerce to national secrets stored in government databases.

An answer? Encryption that relies on the same concepts from the world of physics. Just as some scientists are working on quantum computers, others are working on quantum security techniques that could thwart the code-breaking abilities of these machines of the future.

It is a race with national security implications, and while building quantum computers is still anyone’s game, China has a clear lead in quantum encryption. As it has with other cutting-edge technologies, like artificial intelligence, the Chinese government has made different kinds of quantum research a priority.

“China has a very deliberate strategy to own this technology,” said Duncan Earl, a former researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory who is president and chief technology officer of Qubitekk, a company that is exploring quantum encryption. “If we think we can wait five or 10 years before jumping on this technology, it is going to be too late.”
This is ridiculous. I am a quantum computer skeptic, but put that aside. Quantum encryption can be done on a small scale, but it is commercially useless for many reasons. Messages cannot be authenticated. It is slow and cumbersome. It is subject to hardware attacks. It has never worked as well as the models assume. It does not solve any problem that is not already solved in a much better way.
With communications sent by traditional means, eavesdroppers can intercept the data stream at every point along a fiber-optic line. A government could tap that line just about anywhere. Quantum encryption cut the number of vulnerable spots in the Beijing-Shanghai line to just a few dozen across 1,200 miles, Professor Lu said.
No, most data today is sent encrypted. Governments cannot just tap the lines at intermediate points, because they would just get encrypted data.
At places like the University of Chicago, researchers hope to go a step further, exploring what are called quantum repeaters — devices that could extend the range of quantum encryption.
Yes, that is one of the big problems with quantum encryption. Ordinary encryption, as used today, can use cheap routers with no danger of security loss. Quantum encryption needs trusted quantum repeaters everywhere, and no one has invented one yet.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

AAAS polls MeToo as a breakthrough

AAAS Science mag announces:
It’s that time of the year again: Science’s reporters and editors are homing in on the Breakthrough of the Year, our choice of the most significant scientific discovery, development, or trend in 2018. That selection, along with nine runners-up, will be announced when the last issue of the year goes online on 20 December. ...

The #MeToo movement made significant gains in science. Several institutions upheld long-standing allegations against prominent scientists accused of sexual harassment, discrimination, or bullying, and a U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report called for systemic changes to prevent such abuse. ...

Editor’s note: We originally included the claim of gene-edited babies as a candidate; we have since removed it to avoid giving the mistaken impression that Science endorses this ethically fraught work.
So AAAS views #MeToo as a scientific breakthrough, and endorses that ethically fraught work?!

The winner is being determined by an online vote, so we will see if the feminists have taken over.

Recent victims of #MeToo include Larry Krauss and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I am not going to repeat the gossip here. In one accusation, a fan showed him a solar system tattoo on her arm, and he asked to see if it included Pluto. I thought that women get tattoos to show them. The accusations are extremely petty, and do not belong in a science journal.

Complaining about MeToo accusers is like complaining about termites. Termites do what termites do. It is unfortunate to see the leading science popularizers get maligned like this. Who is going to take on the responsibility to explaining science to the public? Maybe eunuchs or lesbians or Moslems will have to be recruited.

Maybe 2018 will go down in the history of science as the beginning of the end of modern physics. The period started with Maxwell and others in the late 19th century. Now physics news is dominated by ridiculously overhyped bogus stories about the multiverse and other nonsense, failed attempts to find susy particles and quantum computers, censoring physicist Alessandro Strumia for telling the truth about women in physics, and the MeToo movement sabotaging careers.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Einstein God Letter is for sale

An auction is selling an Einstein letter that says:
The word God is for me nothing but the expression of and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends,” the message reads. “No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change anything about this. ...

For me the unadulterated Jewish religion is, like all other religions, an incarnation of primitive superstition. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong, and in whose mentality I feel profoundly anchored, still for me does not have any different kind of dignity from all other peoples. As far as my experience goes, they are in fact no better than other human groups, even if they are protected from the worst excesses by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot perceive anything ‘chosen’ about them.
In spite of these opinions, being a Jew was very important to Einstein, and he was involved in Zionist causes all his life.

Judaism is funny that way. Many Jews identify with Judaism and Jewish culture very strongly, even tho they do not seem to believe in any of the religious aspects.
“Einstein often uses the word God — ‘God does not play dice with the universe,’” Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, who teaches philosophy and wrote “Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away,” said in an interview. “A lot of physicists do this. It misleads people into thinking they’re theists, they believe in God. It’s a metaphorical way of talking about absolute truth. Einstein used it metaphorically and playfully.”

She said he had been religious when he was a child but “lost his religion and science took over.”
This is confusing to non-physicists. Saying that "science took over" is not right either, as Einstein had his share of unscientific beliefs.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Economist cites Schroedinger's immigrant

Here is a foolish non-physics reference to quantum mechanics.

Economist David Henderson writes in favor of open borders:
In a post this morning, Cafe Hayek’s Don Boudreaux points out the contradiction in opposing immigrants because they work and opposing them because they go on welfare, that is, don’t work.

Jon Murphy, a Ph.D. student at George Mason University, where Don teaches, and a frequent commenter on this site (as well as an Econlib Feature Article author) sums it up beautifully:

Schrodinger’s Immigrant: simultaneously stealing jobs and too lazy to work.

Of course, Jon’s reference is to Schrodinger’s cat.
If Schroedinger's immigrant is like the cat, then you have to look at the immigrant too see if he is stealing jobs or too lazy to work.

Or as a comment explains:
It is completely possible for immigrants to be a problem for both working and not working. An example — If 10 million immigrants suddenly find a home in the US, the economy cannot instantly absorb them. Therefore some will find work and others will not, thereby making the double whammy that some are competing for jobs with citizens, and others are sucking dollars out of the welfare system.
Henderson ignores this, and just lets others take the libertarian view that the immigrants should be able to do whatever they want.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Letting quasars substitute for free will

SciAm has an article on Photons, Quasars and the Possibility of Free Will:
The nature of free will has long inspired philosophical debates, but it also raises a central question about the fundamental nature of the universe. Is the cosmos governed by strict physical laws that determine its fate from the big bang until the end of time? Or do the laws of nature sometimes allow for things to happen at random? A century-old series of physics experiments still hasn’t been able to settle the question, but a new experiment has tilted the odds toward the latter by performing a quantum experiment across billions of light-years. ...

Rather than using a random number generator in the lab to decide which photon measurement to make, the experimenters used quasars.

Quasars are brilliant beacons of light powered by supermassive black holes in the centers of distant galaxies. The team used random fluctuations in the light from quasars to determine how the photons were measured. Since the light from a quasar has to travel for billions of years to reach us, the fluctuations in brightness happened billions of years before the experiment was done—billions of years before humans even walked the Earth. So, there is absolutely no way for it to be entangled with the experiment.

The result was just what quantum theory predicts. Thus, it looks like there really are no deterministic hidden variables, and randomness is still possible throughout the cosmos.
This is just another Bell test experiment, confirming what has been the conventional wisdom for 90 years. There are no local hidden variables. It doesn't really have much to do with free will.

A lot of experiments use randomized inputs, and that is easy to do if the experimenter has some free will to make choices. If he doesn't, then one can question where the randomness is going to come from. You could toss coins, but then you worry that the coin tosses have some subtle correlation with the particle spins in the experiment, and that the correlation is somehow tricking us into believing in quantum mechanics.

So you can get your randomness from a distant quasar. Does that make you feel better as a result?

All this shows is that the known laws of physics are not 100% deterministic. It doesn't really show that we have free will. It does disprove arguments against free will that are based on saying that the laws of physics are deterministic. The known laws are not deterministic.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Motl complains about the end of Physics

Lubos Motl writes:
Fundamental physics refused to obey the wishes of Horgan's. In the 22 years since 1996 when Horgan declared the end of science in his book, we have seen the discovery of Matrix Theory, AdS/CFT and all of its known implications, discovery of the cosmological constant, gravitational waves, Higgs boson, plus some possible experimental anomalies suggesting physics beyond the Standard Model. Sen's tachyon minirevolution, twistor and amplituhedron uprising, landscape and its KKLT realization, Swampland, ER-EPR correspondence, and dozens of comparably similar developments in string theory.
None of these things told us anything new about fundamental physics. From about 1850 to 1980, we had fundamental physics breakthrus every 5 years or so. Since then, nothing.
Already during his lifetime, Einstein was celebrated for some well-established insights such as [relativity etc...] And despite his flawed non-quantum approach, his efforts to find the unified field theory became a template for the modern search for a theory of everything.
Yes, that sums up a lot of what is wrong with theoretical physicists. They follow Einstein's flawed approach.
I think it's a right decision to surrender in this media war against the anti-physics morons. They have won and taken over almost all the media. The number of imbeciles and liars is just way too high and I have been tilting at windmills for way too long. A vast majority of newspaper articles about theoretical physics – and tons of other topics – spread "stories" and "narratives" that have virtually no basis in the truth whatsoever. Serious physicists have been too passive for too long and they have allowed the situation to deteriorate this much.
Yes, the media promotes all sorts of kooky ideas about physics.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Schroedinger grandson plugs quantum computers

Scott Aaronson posts:
And that’s why, today, I’m delighted to have a special guest post by my good friend Terry Rudolph.  Terry, who happens to be Erwin Schrödinger’s grandson, has done lots of fascinating work over the years in quantum computing and the foundations of quantum mechanics, and previously came up on this blog in the context of the PBR (Pusey-Barrett-Rudolph) Theorem.  Today, he’s a cofounder and chief architect at PsiQuantum, a startup in Palo Alto that’s trying to build silicon-photonic quantum computers. ...

Can we/should we teach Quantum Theory in Junior High?
by Terry Rudolph

Should we?

Reasons which suggest the answer is “yes” include:

Economic: We are apparently into a labor market shortage in quantum engineers
The link is to a NY Times article a month ago:
The Next Tech Talent Shortage: Quantum Computing Researchers

Christopher Savoie, founder and chief executive of a start-up called Zapata, offered jobs this year to three scientists who specialize in an increasingly important technology called quantum computing. They accepted.

Several months later, the Cambridge, Mass., company was still waiting for the State Department to approve visas for the specialists. All three are foreigners, born in Europe and Asia.

Whether the delays were the result of tougher immigration policy or just red tape, Mr. Savoie’s predicament was typical of a growing concern among American businesses and universities: Unless policies and priorities change, they will have trouble attracting the talent needed to build quantum technology, which could make today’s computers look like toys. ...

If a quantum computer can be built, it will be exponentially more powerful than even today’s supercomputers.
No, it will not be exponentially more powerful, as Scott Aaronson is fond of pointing out.

And there is considerable doubt about whether quantum computers can be built at all.

The whole field is a gigantic scam.

There are no overseas scientists in quantum computing that have anything to offer the USA. There is no good reason to grant them visas.

Rudolph's new book, and his proposed Junior High course, consist mostly in lessons in programming hypothetical qubits that no one has successfully constructed. This makes about as much sense as teaching kids to play the Harry Potter sport of Quidditch, which exists only the imagination of J.K. Rowling and her readers.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Glashow defends textbook quantum mechanics

I sometimes complain that crackpot ideas have taken over the popularizations of physics, in part because the professors who know better have been silent. But I am happy to say that a distinguished physicist has spoken up to criticize a popular quantum mechanics book.

Sheldon Lee Glashow reviews a book to criticize these ideas:
Schroedinger's cat is simultaneously alive and dead.
We should accept non-falsifiable theories, because no theory is really falsifiable anyway.
Theories cannot be verified either.
Copenhagen interpretation has clouded the minds of physicists.
Glashow is right about these points. Attacking Copenhagen because of Schroedinger's cat is foolishness. The cat is only half-dead in the sense that our knowledge is imperfect, and not because of some fundamental shortcoming of quantum mechanics.

The Becker book attacks Copenhagen because it says that the underlying philosophy of logical positivism is faulty. I do believe it is correct to say that quantum mechanics was founded on a logical positivist philosophy. I think that is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Unfortunately, logical positivism has fallen out of favor among philosophers, and so has the Copenhagen interpretation. Was one shift a consequence of the other? I don't know.

The situation is muddied by the fact that no one defends logical positivism anymore. Copenhagen and positivism seem to have a lot of believers among physicists, but not so many expressing public opinions. Many physicists defend variants of Copenhagen, but prefer to call it consistent histories or QBism.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Einstein's unified field theory dream is dead

Dennis Overbye writes in the NY Times:
Is Albert Einstein finally dead?

Yes. The old sage took his last breath and muttered his last indecipherable words, in German, on April 18, 1955. But lately he has been dying a second death, if one believes a new spate of articles and papers bemoaning the state of contemporary physics.

Never mind the recent, staggering discovery of gravitational waves: ripples in space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago, and which indicate the universe is peppered with black holes that shred and swallow stars.

No, something much deeper than gravity or quantum theory, Einstein’s other misbegotten legacy, is at stake.

More than anyone, it was Einstein who set the goal for modern science: the search for a final theory of everything, a “unified theory,” he said, that would explain why there was no other way to put together the universe than the one we seem to live in.

Or, as he famously put it, “What interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world.”

Roll over, Albert.
He goes on to explain how string theory, supersymmetry, landscape, multiverse, unified field theory, etc. are all dead. Work in these directions has failed, even if many don't want to admit it. Peter Woit and Sabine Hossenfelder have comments.

Einstein's goal of a unified theory was foolish anyway.
But the amount of this dark energy is smaller than the predicted value of the cosmological constant by a factor of 1060. ...

According to them, atoms — the stuff of you, me and the stars — account for only 5 percent of the cosmos by weight. Dark matter, of which we know nothing except that its collective gravity sculpts and holds the galaxies together, amounts to 25 percent.

The remaining 70 percent is dark energy, pushing everything apart; we don’t know anything about that, either. We only know that this “dark sector” exists because of the effect of its gravity on the luminous universe, the motions of stars and galaxies.

A theory that leaves 95 percent of the universe unidentified is hardly a sign that science is over.
Wait -- there is a prediction for the density of dark energy, but we don't know anything about it? So how was the prediction made?

We actually know a lot about dark matter and dark energy, and it is possible that we now know essentially all that we will ever know.

Dark matter has gravity, but does not interact with electricity or light. Its gravitational effects are well understood. What else is there to understand?

Dark energy could be the zero point energy of the vacuum. All quantum systems have such a zero point energy. We can't derive it from first principles, or from the geometry of a Calabi-Yau space, but quantum theory suggests that we should expect it. It appears to be homogeneous, isotropic, and Lorentz invariant. It is just the energy of the vacuum. There may be no more to explain.
Maybe we don’t understand gravity after all, some astronomers say. “I worry that we deify Einstein too much,” Stacy McGaugh, an astronomer at Case Western Reserve University, told Gizmodo in June.
We definitely deify Einstein too much.
If scientists want any gift for the holidays, it’s some new physics that would break the stalemate of these “standard models” and provide new clues to our existence.
This is like a medical researcher hoping to discover some new disease, or the CIA hoping to discover some new terrorist network, or a computer scientist hoping to find flaws that destroy our information infrastructure.

If the disease is already out there killing people, then sure you want to figure out how to diagnose and treat it. But why would you hope for the disease?

Physicists have figured out the four fundamental forces. The big problems have been solved. That is a good thing, not a bad thing. Am I supposed to hope that the laws of physics are wrong just because some bored physicists don't have anything to do? That seems to be what Overbye and everyone else are saying.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Quantum computing skeptic in IEEE Spectrum

I have long been a skeptic about quantum computing. It is probably the opinion on this blog that is most attacked for being wrong.

IEEE Spectrum mag, the leading journal for electrical engineers, published an article on The Case Against Quantum Computing:
Quantum computing is all the rage. It seems like hardly a day goes by without some news outlet describing the extraordinary things this technology promises. Most commentators forget, or just gloss over, the fact that people have been working on quantum computing for decades — and without any practical results to show for it. ...

On the hardware front, advanced research is under way, with a 49-qubit chip (Intel), a 50-qubit chip (IBM), and a 72-qubit chip (Google) having recently been fabricated and studied. The eventual outcome of this activity is not entirely clear, especially because these companies have not revealed the details of their work.

While I believe that such experimental research is beneficial and may lead to a better understanding of complicated quantum systems, I’m skeptical that these efforts will ever result in a practical quantum computer. Such a computer would have to be able to manipulate — on a microscopic level and with enormous precision — a physical system characterized by an unimaginably huge set of parameters, each of which can take on a continuous range of values. Could we ever learn to control the more than 10300 continuously variable parameters defining the quantum state of such a system?

My answer is simple. No, never.
There are comments here.

IBM and Google were claiming in 2017 that they would have demonstrated quantum supremacy before the end of that year. Now we are almost at the end of 2018, and still no quantum supremacy.

It is rare for a mainstream publication to admit that quantum computing may be impossible. The author is a well-respected physicist.