Re: Washington Post Magazine article on ID

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Fri Feb 24 2006 - 11:26:27 EST

At 08:55 AM 2/24/2006, Ted Davis wrote:

>Physicists argued for two centuries (and still
>do, for that matter), for example, about whether
>or not such a thing as "action at a distance" is
>even coherent, let alone whether!
> it actually exists. Yet they bought the
> mathematical descriptions of motion stated by Newton as accurate science.

### This is off the original topic, but your
comment above reminded me of an item I had
planned to post on the list several days ago
(February 22, 2006). I linked to it below these
two excerpts from items dated 1998 and Dec.2005 here:

1998 "...Perhaps the most satisfying aspect is
the realization that constructing such quantum
computers will not require the fabrication of
tiny circuits of atomic scale or any other
sophisticated advance in
Indeed, nature has already completed the hardest
part of the process by assembling the basic
components. All along, ordinary molecules have
known how to do a remarkable kind of computation.
People were just not asking them the right questions. .....

  "....It turns out that filling a test tube with
a liquid made up of appropriate molecules--that
is, using a huge number of individual quantum
computers instead of just one--neatly addresses the problem of decoherence ..."

"Factoring a number with 400 digits--a numerical
feat needed to break some security codes--would
take even the fastest supercomputer in existence
billions of years. But a newly conceived type of
computer, one that exploits
interactions, might complete the task in a year
or so, thereby defeating many of the most
schemes in use. Sensitive data are safe for the
time being, because no one has been able to build
a practical
computer. But researchers have now demonstrated
the feasibility of this approach. Such a computer
would look nothing like the machine that sits on
your desk; surprisingly, it might resemble the
cup of coffee at its side. .." 1998 by Neil
Gershenfeld and Isaac L. Chuang Quantum Computing
with Molecules - 1998
<>Scientific American,

December 02 2005 - ".. Scientists at the Commerce
Department’s National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) have coaxed six atoms into
spinning together in two opposite directions at
the same time, a so-called Schrödinger “cat”
state that obeys the unusual laws of quantum
physics. The ambitious choreography could be
useful in applications such as quantum computing
and cryptography, as well as ultra-sensitive
measurement techniques, all of which rely on
exquisite control of nature’s smallest particles.

The experiment, which was unusually challenging
even for scientists accustomed to crossing the
boundary between the macroscopic and quantum
worlds, is described in the Dec. 1 issue of
Nature.* NIST scientists entangled six beryllium
ions (charged atoms) so that their nuclei were
collectively spinning clockwise and
counterclockwise at the same time. Entanglement,
which Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a
distance,” occurs when the quantum properties of
two or more particles are correlated. The NIST
work, along with a paper by Austrian scientists
published in the same issue of Nature, breaks new
ground for entanglement of multiple particles in
the laboratory. The previous record was five
entangled photons, the smallest particles of light.

“It is very difficult to control six ions
precisely for a long enough time to do an
experiment like this,” says physicist Dietrich
Leibfried, lead author of the NIST paper.

The ability to exist in two states at once is
another peculiar property of quantum physics
known as “superposition.” The NIST ions were
placed in the most extreme superposition of spin
states possible with six ions. All six nuclei are
spinning in one direction and the opposite
direction simultaneously or what physicists call
Schrödinger cat states. The name was coined in a
famous 1935 essay in which German physicist Erwin
Schrödinger described an extreme theoretical case
of being in two states simultaneously, namely a
cat that is both dead and alive at the same time.

Schrödinger’s point was that cats are never
observed in such states in the macroscopic “real
world,” so there seems to be a boundary where the
strange properties of quantum mechanics­the rule
book for Nature’s smallest particles­give way to
everyday experience. The NIST work, while a long
way from full entanglement of a real cat’s
roughly 1026 atoms, extends the domain where
Schrödinger cat states can exist to at least six
atoms. The Austrian team used a different
approach to entangle more ions (eight) but in a less sensitive state.

February 22, 2006 Quantum computer works best
off NewScientist
Posted on 02/23/2006 6:58:12 AM EST by

Even for the crazy world of quantum mechanics,
this one is twisted. A quantum computer program
has produced an answer without actually running.

The idea behind the feat, first proposed in 1998,
is to put a quantum computer into a
“superposition”, a state in which it is both
running and not running. It is as if you asked Schrödinger's cat to hit "Run".

With the right set-up, the theory suggested, the
computer would sometimes get an answer out of the
computer even though the program did not run. And
now researchers from the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign have improved on the original
design and built a non-running quantum computer that really works.

They send a photon into a system of mirrors and
other optical devices, which included a set of
components that run a simple database search by
changing the properties of the photon.

The new design includes a quantum trick called
the Zeno effect. Repeated measurements stop the
photon from entering the actual program, but
allow its quantum nature to flirt with the
program's components - so it can become gradually
altered even though it never actually passes through.

"It is very bizarre that you know your computer
has not run but you also know what the answer
is," says team member Onur Hosten.

This scheme could have an advantage over
straightforward quantum computing. "A non-running
computer produces fewer errors," says Hosten.
That sentiment should have technophobes nodding enthusiastically.

Journal reference: Nature (vol 439, p
949) From issue 2540 of New Scientist magazine, 22 February 2006, page 21

~ Janice
Received on Fri Feb 24 12:05:11 2006

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