Heard people talking about quantum computing, but not really sure you understand what they mean? Well, you’re far from alone (as the late great Richard Feynman once said, “anyone who claims to understand quantum physics doesn’t understand quantum physics”), but why let that stop you from trying to get a layman’s grasp of the basic ideas?
That, one assumes, is the spirit in which this brief introduction to quantum computing at Silicon.com has been written [via SlashDot]… though I’m in no position to comment on how accurate or useful it is. Input from passing physicists is, as always, more than welcome. 🙂
Hang on, what’s quantum entanglement when it’s at home?
I was afraid you were going to ask. Quantum entanglement is the point where scientists typically abandon all hope of being understood because the thing being described really does defy the classical logic we’re used to.
An object is said to become quantumly entangled when its state cannot be described without also referring to the state of another object or objects, because they have become intrinsically linked, or correlated.
No physical link is required however – entanglement can occur between objects that are separated in space, even miles apart – prompting Albert Einstein to famously dub it “spooky action at a distance”.
The correlation between entangled objects might mean that if the spin state of two electrons is entangled, their spin states will be opposites – one will be up, one down. Entangled photons could also share opposing polarisation of their waveforms – one being horizontal, the other vertical, say. This shared state means that a change applied to one entangled object is instantly reflected by its correlated fellows – hence the massive parallel potential of a quantum computer.
Accuracy aside, what’s interesting to me is seeing this sort of bluffer’s guide in a venue like Silicon.com, which is more of a business organ than a tech one. Prepping the Valley VCs for upcoming investment decisions, perhaps?