In this remarkably illustrative and thoroughly accessible look at one of the most intriguing frontiers in science and computers, award-winning New York Times writer George Johnson reveals the fascinating world of quantum computing—the holy grail of super computers where the computing power of single atoms is harnassed to create machines capable of almost unimaginable calculations in the blink of an eye.
As computer chips continue to shrink in size, scientists anticipate the end of the road: A computer in which each switch is comprised of a single atom. Such a device would operate under a different set of physical laws: The laws of quantum mechanics. Johnson gently leads the curious outsider through the surprisingly simple ideas needed to understand this dream, discussing the current state of the revolution, and ultimately assessing the awesome power these machines could have to change our world.
“A remarkable achievement. [A Shortcut Through Time] will help to guide the imagination of the reader into a fascinating future--one in which quantum mechanics might play a prominent role in communication and computation.” —Physics World
“Relying on his skills as a science writer for The New York Times, Johnson uses clocks, tops, and waves to explain a Tinkertoy version of quantum computing that quickly gets the reader involved and hungry to learn more. . . [H]e tears down technical barriers and brings the quantum fire from the mountain.” —Science
“Sets a new standard for science writing . . . a delight and a rare gem.” —The New York Times
“Using metaphors instead of mathematics, George Johnson brings clarity to the strange world of the quantum computer.” —Scientific American
“He makes you smart and quantum computing real.” —Kevin Kelly, Wired
“Lucid and accessible. . . . Johnson does a fine job of telling a story that makes sense both to those who are completely at home in the mathematical theory of the subatomic world and to those whose reaction to the theory is abject terror. . . . A beguiling combination of clarity and enthusiasm.” —New Scientist
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George Johnson writes about science for The New York Times. His most recent books, Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann and the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics and Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the Search for Order, were finalists for the Aventis and Rhone-Poulenc science book prizes. He has also won the AAAS Science Journalism Award. He is codirector of the Santa Fe Science-Writing Workshop and a former Alicia Patterson fellow. Mr. Johnson lives in Santa Fe. He can be reached on the World Wide Web at talaya.net.