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Quantum computers, galaxies and Schroedinger's guinea pig

Using physical systems to model erm... other physical systems. And possibly saving cats

Quantum computing is one of those promises you hear a lot about inphysics. The idea is that by entangling the quantum states of a bunch of atoms you can effectively do lots of calculations in parallel on exactly the same hardware. The right answer is the only one to pop out the end, and the wrong ones zap off into parallel universes or something, depending on your views on Copenhagen.

This is very attractive, but also weird.

For example, I have written before about how tricky it is to solve the equations of the strong nuclear interaction (QCD). QCD is the thing which binds quarks together (using gluons) and holds protons together, and holds protons and neutron together inside atomic nuclei. It is quite important. If one could code up the fundamental equations of QCD on a quantum computer, maybe we could solve all this in a trice*, and make really precise predictions for all kinds of things, for example the masses of hadrons and nuclei.

Why I find this weird is that to me there is so much physics inside a quantum computer that I find it hard to treat it as "just" a computer. But I know this is a silly attitude; the physics inside a conventional computer is also complex and fundamentally quantum mechanical, it's just I am more used to that.

What we are doing is using electromagnetism (photons and electrons) to model QCD (gluons and quarks). Electromagnetism is more tractable with conventional computational techniques than is QCD, but we still can't solve it exactly when there are too many electrons around. Yet we (might be able to) build devices which can do these calculations using quantum entanglement in photons and electrons. Can we use electromagnetism to solve itself even?

It's not really my field so maybe I am being naive, but this seems amazing and I need to think about it more. Somehow, and again for no defensible reason, I am more comfortable with using electromagnetism to model gravity, and build galaxies.

It also occurs to me that Schroedinger's cat could be seen as a quantum computer. Maybe in the future, all animal testing will be done on a single quantum-entangled biosystem... Schroedinger's guinea pig? If I understand right, only the correct answer would pop out the end, which surely means the cat that survived. Or grew the ear on its back or whatever, I guess. This could be a massive breakthrough in medicine and the life sciences too.

Or perhaps I just slipped into a parallel universe.

Using physical systems to model erm... other physical systems. And possibly saving cats

Quantum computing is one of those promises you hear a lot about inphysics. The idea is that by entangling the quantum states of a bunch of atoms you can effectively do lots of calculations in parallel on exactly the same hardware. The right answer is the only one to pop out the end, and the wrong ones zap off into parallel universes or something, depending on your views on Copenhagen.

This is very attractive, but also weird.

For example, I have written before about how tricky it is to solve the equations of the strong nuclear interaction (QCD). QCD is the thing which binds quarks together (using gluons) and holds protons together, and holds protons and neutron together inside atomic nuclei. It is quite important. If one could code up the fundamental equations of QCD on a quantum computer, maybe we could solve all this in a trice*, and make really precise predictions for all kinds of things, for example the masses of hadrons and nuclei.

Why I find this weird is that to me there is so much physics inside a quantum computer that I find it hard to treat it as "just" a computer. But I know this is a silly attitude; the physics inside a conventional computer is also complex and fundamentally quantum mechanical, it's just I am more used to that.

What we are doing is using electromagnetism (photons and electrons) to model QCD (gluons and quarks). Electromagnetism is more tractable with conventional computational techniques than is QCD, but we still can't solve it exactly when there are too many electrons around. Yet we (might be able to) build devices which can do these calculations using quantum entanglement in photons and electrons. Can we use electromagnetism to solve itself even?

It's not really my field so maybe I am being naive, but this seems amazing and I need to think about it more. Somehow, and again for no defensible reason, I am more comfortable with using electromagnetism to model gravity, and build galaxies.

It also occurs to me that Schroedinger's cat could be seen as a quantum computer. Maybe in the future, all animal testing will be done on a single quantum-entangled biosystem... Schroedinger's guinea pig? If I understand right, only the correct answer would pop out the end, which surely means the cat that survived. Or grew the ear on its back or whatever, I guess. This could be a massive breakthrough in medicine and the life sciences too.

Or perhaps I just slipped into a parallel universe.

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