Scientists get results from a Quantum Computer by NOT running the program. Really.

Think Outside The BoxIt sounds impossible, but it’s true. This article at NewScientist.com tells the story, and has one of the best lines I’ve read in a while, “A non-running computer produces fewer errors.” Seriously, though, quantum physics, string theory, and the like are giving us abstract thinkers almost too much conflicting information to contemplate. I’m sure someone has said, “The more we know, the less we know,” I just don’t know whom. QED.

A great place to start learning about all this mindbending “dual-slit” experiment. I tried to find a good link, but I didn’t like any of them.

The idea, extremely simplified, is this: take a light source, a piece of paper for a mask, and a wall. Turn on the light, make a single, tiny slit in the paper, and hold the paper between the light and the wall. You’ll see light on the wall that has traveled through the slit, brighter in the center and dimming away from center. Now, make another slit in the paper mask, and again put it between the light source and the wall. You will now see a diffraction pattern, as light traveling through each slit interferes with light from the other slit, in keeping with light’s wavelike properties.

Now, replace the light source with a machine capable of emitting a single photon at a time, on command. Replace the wall with a flat detector able to verify that single photons strike it as they are sent from the source. Put the double-slitted mask between them, and fire single photons at it. Whether you wait a millisecond between photons, an hour, day, week or year… What do pattern is built up on the on the detector over time? Since a photon can’t interfere with itself, the pattern is one nice, gaussian distribution per slit, like the one-slit experiment, right?

Nope. The pattern is identical the the original two-slit experiment, with the interference patterns intact. How can that be? How can single photons do that? Do they have behave outside of time, such that they interact with photons fired before and after themselves? Can they pass through both slits simultaneously and interfere with themselves? Are they not really single photons, but really clouds of possible photons, and in fact every single so-called photon emitted performs all possible paths a photon could take, and simultaneously? Do multiple dimensions of reality exist, dimensions that express all possible outcomes, and which interact with each other in ways that affect the observed results in our dimension? All of these have been posited, and doubtless there are more theories.

What’s the answer (assuming there is only one)?

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