Quantum Computers

John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Wed, 29 Jan 1997 09:37:46 -0800 (PST)


Crosby_M <CrosbyM@po1.cpi.bls.gov> On Wed, 29 Jan 1997 Wrote:

>One thing John didn't mention is that Gershenfeld and Chuang foresee
>these devices as being 'liquid computers'. In fact, the brief
>write-up of this in the 18 Jan Science News is entitled "Brewing a
>Quantum Computer in a Coffee Cup" which Gershenfeld quipped might be
>possible "due to the even heating characteristics of java".

It's a clich‚ but like most clich‚s it's true, truth is stranger than fiction.
I quote from that scholarly tomb "The hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy"
by Douglas Adams:

"The principle of generating small amounts of FINITE improbably by simply
hooking the logic circuits of a Bambleweeny 57 Sub Meson Brain to an atomic
vector plotter suspended in a strong Brownian motion producer (say a nice
hot cup of tea) were of course well understood- and such generators were
often used to break the ice at parties by making the molecules of the
hostess's undergarments lead simultaneously one foot to the left, in
accordance with the Theory of Indeterminacy."

"Many respected physicists said that they weren't going to stand for this,
partly because it was a debasement of science, but mostly because they
didn't get invited to those sort of parties."

"Another thing they couldn't stand was the perpetual failure they
encountered in trying to construct a machine which could generate the
INFINITE improbability field needed to flip a space ship across the
mind-paralyzing distances between the farthest stars, and in the end they
grumpily announced that such a machine was virtually impossible."

"Then one day, a student who had been left to sweep up after a particularly
unsuccessful party found himself reasoning this way: If, he thought to
himself, such a machine was a VIRTUAL impossibility it must be a FINITE
improbability. So all I have to do to make one is to work out exactly how
improbable it is, feed that figure into the finite improbability generator,
give it a fresh cup of really hot tea... and turn it on!"

"He did this, and was rather startled to discover that he had managed to
create the long sought after golden Infinite Improbability Generator out
of thin air."

"It startled him even more when just after he was awarded the Galactic
Institute's prize for Extreme Cleverness he got lynched by a rampaging mob
of respectable physicists who had finally realized that the one thing they
really couldn't stand was a smart ass."

Of course Adams's work is fiction and he got it all wrong, you use coffee
not tea.

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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