Friday, January 21, 2005
Eye Opening Quote
Chakra Yadavalli dug up a very interesting quote. Check out the original post, but I'm going to steal it because it's too good not to, and also so I can make a cheap point:
Question by Dr. Manickam, Pune University: There is an effort in Europe for secure Networking based on Quantum Computing. Why not such projects be initiated in India?
Answer By [Name Withheld (For Now)]: A Quantum computer is a device that harnesses physical phenomenon unique to quantum mechanics (especially quantum interference) to realize a fundamentally new mode of information processing. Encryption, however, is only one application of a quantum computer. In addition, a researcher has put together a toolbox of mathematical operations that can only be performed on a quantum computer, many of which he used in his factorization algorithm. Currently the power and capability of a quantum computer is primarily theoretical speculation; the advent of the first fully functional quantum computer will undoubtedly bring many new and exciting applications. Quantum computing is one of the areas, where India can contribute substantially. We are now working on a nano-technology mission which can make realizable quantum computers. The Conference can debate and make suggestions on how we can bring in synergy in this crucial area.
So guess who said this: Is it the head of a physics department at a top university in India? Maybe a government minister of science and technology?
How about: Abdul Kalam, the President of India.
As Chakra Yadavallia alluded to, imagine your favorite North American (or Australian) leader answering the same question, and think about how they'd respond.
Paltry competition aside, Kalam deserves recognition in his own right for being inquisitive enough to know this much. After looking at his background, his quote is not surprising at all...Kalam was a highly successful aerospace engineer before getting mixed up in politics. According to Wikipedia, the Presidency of India is a largely symbolic role, and the Prime Minister is the true seat of power. But no matter, with such a good scientist in a prominent role, it's no wonder India is ascending as a science and technology powerhouse.
As a nation that places such a high value on democracy, education, intellectuals, and fluency in English, India deserves all the white collar outsourcing they can get. This also solidifies my thinking that Americans have no right to complain about losing high tech jobs until they (well, okay, I admit: we) can elect a leader who understands technology. I'm not talking about enacting protectionism, but I mean investing in science and technology to secure a role in the future. Shrinking science budgets won't get the job done.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Waking Up QubitNews
QubitNews is a pretty good way to keep up with newly available positions and the occasional conference in quantum computing. What would be even better is if it became the Slashdot of quantum computing...but that can only happen if people want to contribute. There are a couple of new discussion-friendly topics, here and here.
(Ideally, my blog will become completely redundant, replaced by a user supported community which contains all the same content with the added benefit of commentary and discussion by many experts active in the field)
Saturday, January 08, 2005
October Wrap Up
-Detecting a single spin
-Quantum Register Experiment with Neutral Atoms (more here)
-Device for splitting a stream of quantum objects
September Wrap Up
Still in catch-up mode...
-Physicists Create Artificial Molecule On A Chip (more here)
-Researchers violate Bell’s inequality with an atom and a photon
-Encryption and the P=NP question
-Single photon source using polymers
-Data archiving network secured using quantum cryptography debuts (more here)
Proofs Over the Edge
The Edge espouses the thesis that providing a forum for smart people discussing profound ideas is far more important than having a decently designed web site. Its latest contribution to mankind is very long, thought provoking, (mostly) accessible and unlike much of the stuff on the Internet, worthy of careful attention: They asked 120 notable thinkers the question, "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" A sampling of quotes can't really do it justice, but here's an attempt anyway.
What I believe but cannot prove is that quantum physics teaches us to abandon the distinction between information and reality.
I am convinced that quantum mechanics is not a final theory. I believe this because I have never encountered an interpretation of the present formulation of quantum mechanics that makes sense to me...I believe that the hidden variables represent relationships between the particles we do see, which are hidden because they are non-local and connect widely separated particles.
If I were to flip a coin a million times I'd be damn sure I wasn't going to get all heads. I'm not a betting man but I'd be so sure that I'd bet my life or my soul. I'd even go the whole way and bet a year's salary. I'm absolutely certain the laws of large numbers—probability theory—will work and protect me. All of science is based on it. But, I can't prove it and I don't really know why it works. That may be the reason why Einstein said, "God doesn't play dice." It probably is.
Since I am a mathematician, I give a precise answer to this question. Thanks to Kurt Gödel, we know that there are true mathematical statements that cannot be proved. But I want a little more than this. I want a statement that is true, unprovable, and simple enough to be understood by people who are not mathematicians. Here it is. [...] [I]t never happens that the reverse of a power of two is a power of five [...]
(I thought Goldbach's Conjecture met this criteria as well, but Dyson also provides a simple method for generating easy to grasp, non-provable probable mathematical truths)
The Atom, the nucleus and the proton, each in its own time, were considered elementary and indivisible, only to be replaced later by smaller objects as the fundamental building blocks. How can we be so arrogant as to exclude the possibility that this will happen again?
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Asher Peres 1934-2005
Asher Peres, recognized as one of the fathers of quantum teleportation, is remembered in the academic blogging community:
Computational Complexity, Michael Nielsen, David Bacon, QubitNews
Limits on Efficient Computation in the Physical World
So you've completely mastered Nielsen and Chuang, where do you go next on the road to understanding quantum computing? I'll admit there's a lot more I could learn from the basic texts before entirely turning my attention to other things, and in the vast ocean of arxiv.org, it's hard to know where to go next.
But one wothwhile stop is here: The dissertation of Scott Aaronson: Limits on Efficient Computation in the Physical World (phD
candidate, UC Berkeley). It's a pretty interesting read that seems to cover a lot of central points in the computer science side of QC. Along with presenting some new results, it ties together many of Aaronson's (and others') previously published papers, giving a lot more context and motivation then what appears in the raw papers themselves.
From Chapter 1:
"For me, quantum computing matters because it combines two of the great mysteries bequeathed to us by the twentieth century: the nature of quantum mechanics, and the ultimate limits of computation. It would be astonishing if such an elemental connection between these mysteries shed no new light on either of them. And indeed, there is already a growing list of examples-we will see several of them in this thesis-in which ideas from quantum computing have led to new results about classical computation.
"[I]n this thesis I will show how adopting a computer science perspective can lead us to ask better questions-nontrivial but answerable questions, which put old mysteries in a new light even when they fall short of solving them."