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Programming the Universe

Can you say neu-trin-o, Eamon?

Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the Cosmos reads aloud surprisingly well. At least Eamon and I thought so, though perhaps the other vacationers didn't appreciate it as much. I do my part to provide propoganda for baby nerds.

Seth Lloyd covers the basics of quantum mechanics and computers, lays the groundwork for quantum computation, then tackles the big questions: how did the universe begin, where do we come from, how to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity, why is the universe complex? Considering physical limits to computation, he calculates that the laws of physics ultimately limit a one kilogram, one liter laptop to 1051 operations per second on 1031 bits and if Moore's law held up we would reach the computation limit by 2205 and the capacity limit in only 75 years.

I had hoped for an explanation of Shor's factorization algorithm or the quantum Zeno effect, but they were beyond the scope of the book. All in all, a pleasant read. Thanks, Eric!


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