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Programming the Universe
A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos
Written by Seth Lloyd

Programming the Universe
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Category: Science - Physics
Imprint: Vintage
Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: March 2007
Price: $16.00
Can. Price: $19.00
ISBN: 978-1-4000-3386-7 (1-4000-3386-1)
Pages: 256
Also available as an eBook.



 
Is the universe actually a giant quantum computer? According to Seth Lloyd, the answer is yes.

All interactions between particles in the universe, Lloyd explains, convey not only energy but also information–in other words, particles not only collide, they compute. What is the entire universe computing, ultimately? “Its own dynamical evolution,” he says. “As the computation proceeds, reality unfolds.” Programming the Universe, a wonderfully accessible book, presents an original and compelling vision of reality, revealing our world in an entirely new light.

“Seth Lloyd certainly gives his readers a lot of bang for their buck. . . . He tackles computer logic, thermodynamics, chaos theory, complexity, quantum mechanics, cosmology, consciousness, sex and the origin of life—throwing in, for good measure, a heartbreaking afterword that repaints the significance of all that has come before. . . . Lloyd think he has found a new way to explain one of the most basic questions in science: Why is the world so complex? . . . His answer returns to the idea that information always begets more information. . . . The eventual emergence of DNA, sex and consciousness is practically inevitable. It’s a fascinating and profoundly comforting idea.” —Corey S. Powell, The New York Times Book Review

“Seth Lloyd is one of the gurus of quantum and information theory, and in this accessible book he presents an insightful new perspective on the cosmos.” —Sir Martin Rees, Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, Author of Just Six Numbers

“What an astonishing book! Seth Lloyd, a quantum bit wrangler at MIT, proves that not only is the universe really a computer, but the universe is a computer we can program! He is not the first to see the world this way, but he is the first to translate this mathematical intuition into plain English. Lloyd is at the forefront of a revolution in science that says everything that exists (atoms, energy, space) is just bits of information. The beauty of this book, and Lloyd’s heroic achievement, is to transform that utterly outrageous view into a reasonable idea that anyone can begin to understand. A programmable universe is a scientific idea whose time will come in future decades, but you can read it here first.” —Kevin Kelly, Editor-at-Large, Wired

“For those readers who love the big questions of existence, they don’t get much bigger than this. Seth Lloyd has re-written the cosmology rule book, bringing penetrating insights from the realm of computation to bear on the problems of complexity, life and the universe. This is an entirely new way of tackling some of the deepest scientific mysteries of our time, engagingly explained by one of the world’s most creative scientists and leading thinkers.” —Paul C. Davies, Australian Centre for Astrobiology, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia, Author of How to Build a Time Machine


“[Lloyd’s] book may do for quantum information what Brian Greene did for strings and Stephen Hawking did for spacetime. . . . Exploring big questions in accessible, comprehensive fashion, Lloyd’s work is of vital importance to the general-science audience.” —Booklist



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 
Seth Lloyd is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT and a principal investigator at the Research Laboratory of Electronics. He is also adjunct assistant professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He designed the first feasible quantum computer, and works on problems having to do with information and complex systems from the very small (how do atoms process information? how can you make them compute?) to the very large (how does society process information? And how can we understand society in terms of its ability to process information?).

His seminal work in the fields of quantum computation and quantum communications--including proposing the first technologically feasible design for a quantum computer--has gained him a reputation as an innovator and leader in the field of quantum computing. Lloyd has been featured widely in the mainstream media including the front page of The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Wired, The Dallas Morning News, and The Times (London), among others. His name also frequently appears (both as writer and subject) in the pages of Nature, New Scientist, Science, and Scientific American.





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