- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 5, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743242637
- ISBN-13: 978-0743242639
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,395,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Minds, Machines, and the Multiverse: THE QUEST FOR THE QUANTUM COMPUTER Paperback – April 5, 2002
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Just how smart can computers get? Science journalist Julian Brown takes a hard look at the spooky world of quantum computation in Minds, Machines, and the Multiverse--and his report is optimistic. Based in large part on the groundbreaking work of David Deutsch, the book mostly sidesteps the shouting matches of the AI debate and instead explores the history of computation and quantum theory before turning to the exciting advances likely to come out of their merger. While some readers might cringe at the blithe dismissal of classical computing as a relic, Brown shows us why quantum computing is faster and more powerful, and is a good candidate for replacing its predecessor.
The author doesn't pull any mathematical punches, but injects enough humor and personalization into his writing to keep the book from crumbling to dust. Indeed, portraits of such luminaries as Deutsch and Feynman are more engaging than those found in some biographies and are enlightening on their own. But the real power and charm of Brown's prose lie in its straightforward explanation of the arcane details of the multiple-worlds theory, "qubits," and quantum logic in language any informed reader can understand. There are more questions than answers in Minds, Machines, and the Multiverse, but the questions are profoundly satisfying all by themselves. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Computers get faster as microprocessors get smaller and denser, requiring fewer subatomic particles to toggle between zero and one. When silicon chips rely on single electrons, will computing power have hit a wall? Or will the future's computers use quantum properties to acquire undreamt-of powers? In this intriguing, fast-moving book, Brown (a longtime writer for Britain's prestigious New Scientist) asks those questions, shuttling among the physics, mathematics and information theory that would enable quantum computing, and the practical, technical work required to make it happen. He considers the class of quantum computing roadblocks that involves heat disposal, introduces us to "complexity theory," something called "decoherence" and "ion traps" (the closest step yet to a quantum computer that works; research into it is currently taking place under the auspices of America's National Security Administration). Brown also profiles quantum-computer theorist David Deutsch--an engagingly eccentric Oxford physicist--as well as such famous scientists as Richard Feynman and IBM's Charles Bennett (who figured out how, "in theory," "one can compute using no energy at all"). The English-speaking world has plenty of books explaining computers, quantum theory and the attendant wacky philosophical implications, but Brown transcends these categories, showing how physics relates to computation and how their alliance affects the future of both. His enthusiastic, patient explanations of fairly difficult mathematics distinguishes his book. Illustrations. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
While the first and last chapters are quite fascinating, the meat of the book reads like an endless serious of abstracts of articles excerpted from mathematical, physics, and computing journals, separated by droll subheads ("Beam Me Up, Atom by Atom"). The major problem is that Brown doesn't seem to have any particular audience in mind. On the one hand, it's hard to imagine most lay readers sitting through his detailed expositions on various mathematics and physics concepts; on the other, math-savvy readers don't need to be told (to cite just one example) what ASCII is.
It's not just that Brown's book is knee-deep in mathematics, however. In fact, the math presented is really not that difficult--it's just boringly presented. The endless series of Alice, Bob, Carol, and Eve stories has all the verve of the litany of questions on the SAT. (Several times I found myself asking, "Which Bob is this?"). Likewise, the descriptions of logic gates are about as exciting as my college textbooks on linear algebra and number theory. Brown's presentation is hampered further by the lack of a glossary; he repeatedly expects the reader to remember terms he discussed over 100 pages earlier.
In sum, computer programmers and armchair mathematicians looking for a primer on the theoretical underpinnings of quantum computation might find this book a helpful introduction. The general reader, however, will have to wait for a well-written overview of the subject. In the meantime, I recommend "The Fabric of Reality" as a starting point.
If you're hoping to get a basic grasp of quantum computing, read John Gribben's "In Search of Schrödinger's Cat" for a non-technical crash course in quantum mechanics and then head for the scientific papers.
This book fails to gauge what a reader will be able to understand. This is a difficult task at times, but when writing "popular science" the author must choose a level to present the material at. Unfortunately in parts that aren't particularly interesting the author pushes this only to retreat at a point where things are getting interesting. You're left feeling, "No, really. I can take it!"
Most Recent Customer Reviews
for the professional.
An astounding composition.