Quantum Computing Essay

2231 words - 9 pages

Fury of the Quantum Fist Quantum mechanics will be our most powerful tool in the world of tomorrow. For those of you that did not know this, quantum mechanics is a physics system or theory using the assumption that energy exists in discrete units. It is probably no exaggeration to say that quantum mechanics is the most successful scientific theory in history. This has been a great success, but in spite of the fact the origins of the quantum theory stretch back nearly a century, it is only in recent years that the general public has become aware of the subject. Indeed, until a few years ago, the very word quantum was almost unknown outside the scientific community. Now books with 'quantum' in the title are absurdly numerous. The reason for this recent surge in interest can be traced to the truly strange nature of quantum mechanical ideas. Quantum physics amounts to much more than a theory of atomic and subatomic processes, it represents nothing less than a complete transformation of our world view. "Its [quantum physics] implications for the nature of reality and the relationship between observer and observed are both subtle and profound. (Barenco)" A description of the world in which an object can apparently be in more than one place at the same time, in which a particle can penetrate a barrier without breaking it, in which something can be both a wave and a particle, and in which widely separated particles can cooperate in an almost psychic fashion, is bound to be both thrilling and bemusing. Niels Bohr, one of the founders of the theory, once remarked that anybody who is not shocked by quantum mechanics hasn't understood it. For decades the complexity and incredibility of the quantum world was an obstacle to the theory being known outside the scientific community. Then in the 1970's a number of writers recognized that the deep philosophical implications of quantum mechanics would be of considerable interest to the wider public, especially as some of the quantum mechanics concepts were of a mystical origin. In addition, technological advances enabled certain key ideas of the theory to be tested in the laboratory for the first time, amid considerable publicity. Although this broader interest was largely stimulated by the philosophical implications of the subject, the practical applications of quantum mechanics had been going from strength to strength. What the public perceived as primarily a set of revolutionary speculations about the nature of reality, professional physicists and engineers regarded as a means to make new devices and handsome profits. In fact, quantum mechanics has always been a very practical subject. Even in the early years before the Second World War, its principles were applied to the electrical and thermal properties of metals and semiconductors. In the postwar years, the development of the transistor and the laser--two of the best-known quantum devices--heralded the information...

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