Quantum Computers -Richard Feynman Finest! www.Ramana.com

By Ramana Annamraju 

In the entire history of science, this is the only Nobel Laureate who gave public testimony on behalf of a topless club to remain it open, truly topless. "Gianone", a strip club in Pasadena, California, was a regular hangout for celebrated theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. Feynman is not surely joking this time! He went on record with official testimony when Los Angeles county was trying to ban topless performers. Probably he was also the only physicist who was contemplating how to put the entire encyclopedia of Britannica on the tip of the pinhead while watching bare breasts. His mathematical scribblings on placemats of drinks from the strip club went for more than $5 million in the auction.

Imagine a couple of things whenever you hear the word, 'Quantum". The first one is that a particle in New York can affect its twin particle's outcome, located 3000 miles away in Los Angeles. It is true even if they are billions of miles apart. The scientific term for this phenomenon is "Quantum Entanglement:."

The second thing you need to remember is "Superposition", which is the ability of a quantum system to be in multiple states at the same time until it is measured. For example, if your kid takes your hand gloves, place the left hand in one box and the right hand in another without your knowledge. Now you are looking for your gloves. You open one box; if that has the left-hand glove, you immediately know the other one has the right-hand glove. It s called correlation. Superposition is a little trickier than that. In Superposition, the glove in each box contains the left and right hands together. It is in ghost form! When you open the box, the glove stops being a ghost and assumes either left hand or right hand without any preference and without your input. It is random selection. Just before opening the box, it decides which hand will be. The glove does not even know which hand it will be until we observe. Then, you know the other box contains the opposite hand. It happens instant even the boxes are a billion miles apart. There is no known communication between the boxes. Albert Einstein called it "Spooky action at a distance". This is experimentally verified and reverified at the quantum level; These are counterintuitive ideas. Though we are made up of the same particles, we don't experience either quantum entanglement or Superposition in our everyday lives. Why that is still a mystery. The name for that mystery in physics is referred to as "measurement Problem".

Richard Feynman tried to simulate quantum systems on a classical computer, similar to the ones we use today. Fynemnan quickly realized it is not possible to simulate quantum behavior on a classical computer. For example, designing truly cost-effective routes and schedules for airlines takes hundreds of years on classical computers. In computer science, it is called the "Traveling Salesman Problem".The option is to build a Quantum computer that solely works on quantum principles. . Quantum Computers can solve the "Traveling Salesman Problem" in less than two minutes.

There is another urgent need to build Quantum Computer. Designing drugs for Covid-19 treatment. The notorious spike Proteins on Novel Coronavirus put the entire humanity hostage, with their constant morphing. To simulate protein folding, the crazy dance of proteins, takes thousands of years on present-day computers. But whereas the quantum computer can do that in a few minutes.

A byte or a bit in the computer has either 1 "or" 0 value (ON or OFF). The analogous to that bit in quantum computers is called Qubit which contains both values "1" and "0" and all the possible vector values in between them, same time. The fastest computer on the planet is no match to the simple 4 Qubit quantum computer. IBM claims it has a 50-bit Qubit chip. If you give every atom in the universe a name, 50 Qubit computers can hold that storage without any sweat. Quantum computers provide unimaginable powers to humans.

The simple way to explain the inner workings of a quantum computer is a mouse going after cheese through a maze. In a classical trial, the mouse keeps trying one trial after the other in a series until it finds the cheese. In a Quantum system, the mouse splits into hundreds of ghost replicas of itself and tries all possible paths to cheese simultaneously. Success and Failure have no meaning here.

There is a fierce war between Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft to find this holy grail of computation, once envisioned by a genius scientist named Richard Feynman.

When Richard Feynman said, "Nature is not classical dammit", very few people understood what he meant. Many believe the quantum phenomenon is just limited to particles. We humans don't have the purview to see the direct effect. It is widely reported the first symptom of Covid-19 is loss of smell. A new field is now emerging, called "Quantum Biology", putting forward a tantalizing theory. We, humans, experience the direct effects of the quantum phenomenon through smell. From the just chemistry, we know there are only 400 receptors in the nose. We should only smell up to 400 different odors. Experiments confirm we can smell up to 10,000 distinct smells.. Wine drinkers can recognize subtle differences between northern Italian and Southern Italian wines. A phenomenon called Quantum Tunneling allows humans to experience different smells of wines and a wide variety of tastes. Richard Feynman's words came true when he said, "Nature is not classical dammit."


On a personal note, I met his long-time friend and colleague, famous in his own right, Leonard Susskind, of Stanford University. I asked him what is next big thing in science is going to be, and he said without hesitation, "Quantum Computers"! 

Diversity of thought is not a need, it is a requirement!

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