Friday, June 24, 2011

Quantum Theory to Applied Science

Ever since Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time', the field of Quantum Physics has captured our imagination, while perplexing us at the same time. However there have been a number of interesting developments over the past few years that are really opening up our eyes to the world around us, while at the same time opening up the doors to some pretty amazing possibilities. Here are some examples:

Birds use Quantum Physics to 'see' the Earth's magnetic field

Plants use Quantum Physics to aid in photosynthesis

Quantum Mechanics theoretically allows twice as much data to be stored and/or transferred

New algorithms allow us to solve previously unsolvable mathematical problems, putting RSA encryption (the industry standard used by all financial institutions across the world) at risk of being decoded using a Quantum Computer

The first Quantum Computer was sold to Lockheed Martin less than a month ago by a company based out of Canada (don't worry it can't hack into your bank account, yet)

You can implement a radically efficient AI model (Perceptron) using Quantum Annealing on a commercially-available Quantum Computer
The above blog post in particular is very well written and much easier to follow for a layman than most of the ones on Wikipedia.

It wouldn't surprise me if our grandchildren will look down upon us for having such a primitive understanding of the world around us, similar to how we scoff those ancestors who believed the world was flat, or that disease was spread through bad smells. Scarily enough, those were approximations that allowed us to perceive the world in a way that made sense to us, which is exactly what Classical (Newtonian) Physics does for us now.