"If computational systems are a natural consequence of physical law, then a quantum computer is not only possible, but inevitable. It may take decades, perhaps a century, but a commercially viable quantum computer is a certainty." (p. 192)The Feynman Processor is another one of those books which seems to be for general audiences but falls short of delivering the goods in a way that all can understand. The book combines an introduction to quantum mechanics with an introduction to computer science and then ties the two together with an explanation of the possibilities of quantum computing. This isn't the best place to get a 'real' introduction to either quantum physics or computer science though.
I haven't been too impressed with the "Frontiers of Science" series to this point. The authors all appear to be from Australia. The problem hasn't been that though. The books seem to be incomplete somehow--as if they are abridgments of more complete works in which key elements were left out of these versions. In this case, Milburn frequently refers the reader to his previous work which he claims contains more complete explanations. Paul Davies, in the Foreword, claims that Milburn's "careful and thorough account of how entanglement leads to observations that are totally impossible in a classical world is the best I have read." It appears that he is referring to Milburn's other book though as he cites it in the same paragraph.
If the phrase "a single photon has the capacity to provide an endless stream of information" sparks your curiosity then you don't want to be ignorant of this field for long. The possibilities described, mostly near the end of the book, are fascinating even if a firm grip of quantum physics isn't held by the reader.
For me, at least, his twin analogies used for teaching quantum entanglement did more to confuse the topic than to convey the concept clearly. Someone with prior exposure to quantum physics may not feel the same way. There probably isn't a single work available that can clearly explain quantum physics. Repeated exposure through a variety of authors is probably the best way to achieve competence of the subject. Milburn states that even if a person can understand the processes and equations they still don't know the 'whys'. No one does. Perhaps that is why quantum physics is more difficult to grasp than other classical physics.
Milburn relies fairly heavily on the work of David Deutsch. A reader may want to go directly to Deutsch's own writings for a first hand taste of his ideas. Likewise with Richard Feynman.
Rather than describe Milburn's explanation of quantum computing (something I can't do well as I don't pretend to have comprehended everything in this book) I'll direct you to LANL, which is the internet site Milburn discusses which allows information to be shared immediately on the subject and has therefore increased the pace of improvement in this intriguing and complex field.
From the publisher:
In this exciting new book, quantum physicist Gerard J. Milburn describes the amazing, newly discovered phenomena of quantum physics, including quantum entanglement, the most unusual phenomenon in the recent history of science. He also explains how this weird but solidly confirmed principle shows enormous promise for the world of the future.
Gerard J. Milburn is Professor of Theoretical Physics and Head of the Department of Laser
Science at the University of Queensland, Australia. He is the author of Schrödinger Machines.
List of all books by author? When was a review written? What's currently being read?
history of science