Friday, January 4, 2013

Prizes for quantum physics

A reader refers to the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics as proof that quantum decoherence can be measured, and others have claimed that it is progress towards quantum computing. For completeness, I quote the official citation:
On the verge of a new computer revolution
A possible application of ion traps that many scientists dream of is the quantum computer. In present-day classical computers the smallest unit of information is a bit that takes the value of either 1 or 0. In a quantum computer, however, the basic unit of information – a quantum bit or qubit – can be 1 and 0 at the same time. Two quantum bits can simultaneously take on four values – 00, 01, 10 and 11 – and each additional qubit doubles the amount of possible states. For n quantum bits there are 2n possible states, and a quantum computer of only 300 qubits could hold 2300 values simultaneously, more than the number of atoms in the universe.

Wineland’s group was the first in the world to demonstrate a quantum operation with two quantum bits. Since control operations have already been achieved with a few qubits, there is in principle no reason to believe that it should not be possible to achieve such operations with many more qubits. However, to build such a quantum computer is an enormous practical challenge. One has to satisfy two opposing requirements: the qubits need to be adequately isolated from their environment in order not to destroy their quantum properties, yet they must also be able to communicate with the outside world in order to pass on the results of their calculations. Perhaps the quantum computer will be built in this century. If so, it will change our lives in the same radical way as the classical computer transformed life in the last century.
And also this:
David Wineland and Serge Haroche have invented and implemented new technologies and methods allowing the measurement and control of individual quantum systems with high accuracy. Their work has enabled the investigation of decoherence through measurements of the evolution of Schr√∂dinger’s cat-like states, the first steps towards the quantum computer, and the development of extremely accurate optical clocks.
I say that there is no way that the quantum computer will change our lives in the same radical way as the classical computer transformed life in the last century.

There has to be a better scientific term than "evolution of Schr√∂dinger’s cat-like states".

A couple of other quantum physicists have just won the Israeli Wolf Prize. Here is praise for them and their work on ion traps for quantum computing. I do not know whether their work proves me wrong about anything. I look forward to finding out.

2 comments:

  1. "A reader refers to the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics as proof of progress towards quantum computing."

    Are you talking about me? You’re putting words in my mouth...

    ReplyDelete