pseudoscience and quantum computers

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Orangutanlibrarian
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pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Orangutanlibrarian » Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:01 pm UTC

I just saw a cleening product that boasts being 'Powered By Quantum Nano Technology'. This bare the classic hallmark of pseudoscience, whenever I here quantum i roll my eyes.

But quantum computers also use quantum magic. are they pseudoscience? I've never seen one working, just like over unity machines.

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badwiz
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby badwiz » Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:21 pm UTC

It is indeed a known fact that adding the word quantum in front of anything makes it at least better by a factor of 10.

The add you just witnessed, from whatever media outlet, is probably a good indication you should avoid wasting precious cellular activity partaking of that outlet. But for the humor in it, we could certainly say that whatever cleaning solution they are marketing, it probably uses chemicals, which are, in the literal interpretation "quantum nano technology".

Its like saying "Go on a date with me cuz I am powered by atoms!"

With that said, a so-called 'quantum computer' is not a marketing advertisement you might see between episodes of Quantum Leap.
They are in fact real machines that have a scientific basis, and are currently being researched (my research area, in fact) in the hopes of developing a new type of computer.
And just as 20th century computers came about, quantum computers (after ALOT of work is done to make a reliable QC) won't be on every street corner. Think ENIAC or those "Bombes" British Intelligence used in WWII: the first useful quantum computers will be designed for very specific tasks. So try to avoid any seductive marketing in the future* claiming their laptop "Now with the power of a quantum computer!"

*Edited typo

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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby willancs » Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:33 pm UTC

My absolute favourite example of the awesomeness intensifying power of quantum: Quantum Homeopathy! (http://quantumhomeopathy.co.uk/)

Wow. The amount of nonsense to the square inch on that site is truly awe inspiring.

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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Mr_Rose » Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:14 pm UTC

willancs wrote:Wow. The amount of nonsense to the square inch on that site is truly awe inspiring.

Meh. Barely a few hundred µTc at best. Doesn't even have a rant about a conspiracy, much less flashing neon gifs. :wink:
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Technical Ben » Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:35 pm UTC

There are a couple of crack pot pseudo-scientists out there. Some guy got a load of pc tech, CPUs, Mem cards, Ram sticks, and stuck "Quantum PC" stickers on them. He reckoned it had 100GHZ 1600GB ram and was instantly accessed. It was locked in a bullet proof case, and never turned on at the tech expo though. :roll:
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby BlackSails » Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:54 pm UTC

If it has transistors, it really is powered by quantum nano tech.

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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Xanthir » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:01 pm UTC

Orangutanlibrarian wrote:But quantum computers also use quantum magic. are they pseudoscience? I've never seen one working, just like over unity machines.

No, quantum computers are quite real, though people often attribute magical powers to them because they don't quite understand how they work. Quantum computers are just like normal computers, except they exploit some quirks of quantum mechanics so they can run some algorithms in polynomial time, while a normal computer would only be able to run it in exponential time.
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Bluggo » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:27 pm UTC

Well, some of the stuff you can do with a quantum computer sounds almost magical.

I mean, come on, searching an unsorted database with N entries using O([imath]\sqrt{N}[/imath]) comparisons? What the hell?

Ok, once you see the explanation everything makes sense - you are basically checking all the entries of the database "in parallel" by means of a superposition, and the operators are set up so that at every step the amplitude of the "correct" answer increases - but still, that kind of thing is uncanny.
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Dopefish » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:36 pm UTC

Are quantum computers 'real' in the sense that functioning ones actually presently exist?

I know in theory, they work and so are in that way real and not some magical idea, but my impression was that theres still a lot of research to go before we can actually put it into practice. Of course, I haven't been following it too closely, so I might be several years behind on that particular scientific frontier.

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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Bluggo » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:45 pm UTC

Are quantum computers 'real' in the sense that functioning ones actually presently exist?

They are, in the sense that it is possible, at no small expense, to build a non-programmable "quantum computer" in a laboratory setting and have it perform some small task.

But there seem to be scalability problems: for example, Shor's Algorithm can factorize integers in polynomial time, but in a laboratory setting it has only been tested for n=15.

As far as I know, the biggest issue is that qubits (the "quantum" version of bits) are very sensitive to external interactions, and it takes very little for them to collapse - but I am not a researcher in the field.
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Technical Ben » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:33 pm UTC

I always thought they'd hit the same roadblock with quantum tunnelling/quantum entanglement/FTL communication. Yep, it goes faster than light, but you cannot communicate with it.
Although it seems actual Q-bits work. As suppose the the other quantum boundaries.
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Tass » Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:03 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:I always thought they'd hit the same roadblock with quantum tunnelling/quantum entanglement/FTL communication. Yep, it goes faster than light, but you cannot communicate with it.
Although it seems actual Q-bits work. As suppose the the other quantum boundaries.


What do you mean "hit the same roadblock"? Tunneling is an important concept without which there would be no radioactivity. Entanglement is essential in quantum computing. FTL communication has always been science fiction.

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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:57 pm UTC

In that we can not use the effect for what we thought we could. IE faster than light travel of information does not automatically mean we get faster than light communication.
Having a q-bit does not mean we get infinitely fast computers. Although I suppose it is just a matter of infinitely fast table searches?
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:12 am UTC

Quantum computing was never supposed to be infinitely fast.
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Nov 11, 2010 3:35 pm UTC

Right, the infinitely fast nonsense was just the pseudoscience ignorant people attach to the idea (just like FTL communication is the pseudoscience people attach to entanglement). No one who understands quantum mechanics even a little bit ever thought a quantum computer would work in constant time or entanglement could send information FTL.

Bluggo wrote:But there seem to be scalability problems: for example, Shor's Algorithm can factorize integers in polynomial time, but in a laboratory setting it has only been tested for n=15.
The fact that they've only run that algorithm up to 4 qubits doesn't necessarily mean there are real scalability factors, does it? It just means we haven't made bigger chips *yet*.
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby webgiant » Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:32 am UTC

Orangutanlibrarian wrote:I just saw a cleening product that boasts being 'Powered By Quantum Nano Technology'. This bare the classic hallmark of pseudoscience, whenever I here quantum i roll my eyes.

I heard a good one a week ago. Can't remember the name (laughed too hard at the description) but essentially it was two parts: a laser used to stick a "quantum charge" in a quartz crystal; and using one of those laser-pointers as a kind of "quantum photon acupuncture" system. Basically you hold the crystal and point the laser at parts of your skin, and somehow "quantum" is how it all works.

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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby thoughtfully » Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:20 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Right, the infinitely fast nonsense was just the pseudoscience ignorant people attach to the idea (just like FTL communication is the pseudoscience people attach to entanglement). No one who understands quantum mechanics even a little bit ever thought a quantum computer would work in constant time or entanglement could send information FTL.

Not a quantum computer or even anything anyone knows how to build, but Time Loop Logic overlaps a bit with some of those features. Speculative and maybe not practical even if the theory worked out, but not crackpottery. Even if it's only of academic interest, it's quite nifty :)
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Minerva » Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:44 pm UTC

Bluggo wrote:But there seem to be scalability problems: for example, Shor's Algorithm can factorize integers in polynomial time, but in a laboratory setting it has only been tested for n=15.

As far as I know, the biggest issue is that qubits (the "quantum" version of bits) are very sensitive to external interactions, and it takes very little for them to collapse - but I am not a researcher in the field.


But that's not a problem with Shor's algorithm itself... it's hard to build QC hardware with a scaled-up number of qubits all entangled and working.
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby the tree » Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:38 pm UTC

Reckitt Benickiser, who make Finish cleaning products, has "Quantum", trademarked - so they can excuse it as just a brand. Like how Macintosh Computers, Wicked Lasers and Best Beer actually have nothing to do with coats[citation needed], aren't evil and are meerly above par respectively. Of course, unlike those examples -"Finish Quantum" is clearly trying to be intentionally deceptive - but they know what they are doing, if you look carefully they never actually explicity say the technology is based on quantum physics, they just put the words quantum and technology very close to each other, repeatedly.

Presumably the market is people who really don't know what the word quantum means at all - because I only know a little bit and I know that if I were using a dishwasher I'd want to know where my dishes were at the time, without any risk of them suddenly gaining velocity.

Sort of related: I had an IT teacher at A-Level who repeatedly told the class that the "quantum leap" meant a very large change, and ignored when I pointed out that it meant the exact opposite.

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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:05 pm UTC

the tree wrote:I had an IT teacher at A-Level who repeatedly told the class that the "quantum leap" meant a very large change, and ignored when I pointed out that it meant the exact opposite.
No, actually "quantum leap" has pretty much always meant a large and sudden change. (The earliest Oxford English Dictionary sense, from 1970, has this meaning, as does the 1968 instance in BYU's Corpus of Historical American English.)

Now "quantum jump" did start out with the technical meaning, but even that has been used for a large and sudden change since at least 1950.

And this more common meaning isn't really incorrect or even all that different from the "technical" sense, in that both cases involve a sudden change from one level to another, without apparently spending any time in between. The fact that the energy changes observed in quantum mechanics are much smaller is irrelevant to the most useful sense of the expression.
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Tass » Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:58 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
the tree wrote:I had an IT teacher at A-Level who repeatedly told the class that the "quantum leap" meant a very large change, and ignored when I pointed out that it meant the exact opposite.
No, actually "quantum leap" has pretty much always meant a large and sudden change. (The earliest Oxford English Dictionary sense, from 1970, has this meaning, as does the 1968 instance in BYU's Corpus of Historical American English.)

Now "quantum jump" did start out with the technical meaning, but even that has been used for a large and sudden change since at least 1950.

And this more common meaning isn't really incorrect or even all that different from the "technical" sense, in that both cases involve a sudden change from one level to another, without apparently spending any time in between. The fact that the energy changes observed in quantum mechanics are much smaller is irrelevant to the most useful sense of the expression.


I ought to be used about sudden changes rather than big ones, though.

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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:18 pm UTC

Right. Hence all those times in that post when I said "sudden".
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby Technical Ben » Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:14 pm UTC

Am I the only one who was hoping "Quantum of Solace" was about some sort of quantum dooms day device? :oops:
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Re: pseudoscience and quantum computers

Postby webgiant » Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:16 am UTC

Technical Ben wrote:Am I the only one who was hoping "Quantum of Solace" was about some sort of quantum dooms day device? :oops:

It was: it killed the plot.


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