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Old 01-26-2007, 06:02 PM   #1
silverpig
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality UPDATED

D-Wave homepage

They're doing a demonstration Feb 13 in Mountainview CA, and another one Feb 15 in Vancouver. I'm going to attend the Vancouver demo. There's not much more information than this right now, but I got wind of it at work and thought I'd pass it along.

UPDATE:

So I went to the demo day today. It started a bit later than expected due to the amount of people that showed up. Once it got going though, it was okay.

First, the presentation was very business oriented and not very technical. There were a lot of analogies used and most of the applications were spoken about in terms of dollars, markets, and business opportunity. The first half of the presentation was very dry and was spent mostly by the business end guys talking about the people behind the project and how great everyone was. It seemed as though these two businessey guys didn't actually know much about the computer itself, and their descriptions of how it worked were pretty lacking. I think they were engineers by training who were good with business and had financial contacts in the business community. There wasn't much substance to anything they spoke about, which was quite unfortunate.

The technical director finished off the presentation by talking a bit about the problems the QC could solve. There was a little bit of technical info which was nice, but his audience clearly didn't come from a physics background, so he shyed away from it for their sake. The demos were fairly impressive though, particularly the molecule search application. I didn't get to ask my question, and most of the questions dealt with possible applications, so I didn't get much out of that. Free food and beer afterwards was nice though.

The only really technical thing I can speak about is something I had to get for myself from the information presented as it wasn't spoken about directly. It seems as though their coherence time is still fairly low. The reason I say this is because the QC doesn't always come up with the same solution to the same problem every time. The speaker blamed it on noise, which I guess is true, but that noise serves to decohere the system. The result is they run the same algorithm several times and then take the answer which comes up the majority of the time to be the correct one. They have the system reliable enough that the answer they get the majority of the time is in fact the right one, and they have never gotten an incorrect solution more times than a correct one, but as of now there is currently no solution checking, nor any error checking. In fact, they don't plan on doing real-time error checking at all for the next several years, and their next steps involve doing solution checking at the end of the run of the algorithm.

They also acknowledged that nearest neighbour interactions isn't good enough for a larger system, and claim to have come up with a solution they are trying to implement for newer versions of the machine.
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Old 01-26-2007, 06:32 PM   #2
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

I believe it when I see it. D-wave has a long history of exaggerating what they can do A LOT (they get most of their funding from venture capitalists).
I know they have been working on a 5-bit architecture for a while. However, they aren't able to address the individual bits in that system, all they have done is to demonstrate coupling using spectroscopy.
And even if they somehow have managed to couple 16 bits (which would be a significant achievement) you still can't run "commercial software" on a QC; the idea doesn't even make sense.
Another interesting thing is that they have virtually no scientific staff left, they have been firing people left and right over the past two years (I know several of them) so I wonder who actually built this thing.

I should know more about what is going on after the weekend...




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Old 01-26-2007, 07:21 PM   #3
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

Yeah, I was a bit skeptical as well, but you'd think they'd have to have SOMETHING if they're going to put out such a public statement. The place they're doing it here is the science center where everyone and their kid goes, so it's not like it's anything obscure...
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Old 01-26-2007, 09:56 PM   #4
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

They probably wouldn't be showing it off if they didn't have it. Not that anyone's going to notice whether they really have 16 entangled qubits It's not like the thing will be running Crysis at 100000 FPS.
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Old 01-28-2007, 10:44 AM   #5
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

Quote:
Originally posted by: f95toli
I believe it when I see it. D-wave has a long history of exaggerating what they can do A LOT (they get most of their funding from venture capitalists).
I know they have been working on a 5-bit architecture for a while. However, they aren't able to address the individual bits in that system, all they have done is to demonstrate coupling using spectroscopy.
And even if they somehow have managed to couple 16 bits (which would be a significant achievement) you still can't run "commercial software" on a QC; the idea doesn't even make sense.
Another interesting thing is that they have virtually no scientific staff left, they have been firing people left and right over the past two years (I know several of them) so I wonder who actually built this thing.

I should know more about what is going on after the weekend...




Well, can't ask for much more than a guy like this responding. Let us know what you find out
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Old 01-29-2007, 06:23 PM   #6
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

One of the adjunct professors at my university works heavily for D-Wave. I haven't seen him around in a few weeks, but if I do, I'll ask him about it.
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Old 01-29-2007, 06:47 PM   #7
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

I haven't been able to find any more information, it seems none of the people I know were aware of this.
However, it turns out Rose has a blog

http://dwave.wordpress.com/2007/01/1...-announcement/

Based on the information in there I can comment on a few things:

*First of all, it is not a "real" 16-bit QC. If you look at the picture in the link you will see that it is a 4x4 array of elements and there is only next-neighbor coupling; there is no control over the individual qubits. They are doing what is known as "adiabatic" QC (which I admitt I don't know much about).
Hence, it is essentially a continuation of the work they did with IPHT-Jena in Germany.

*The qubits are superconducting and flux-based (RF-SQUIDs), my guess from looking at the picture is that they are rather large. Presumably fabricated in niobium by Hypress (a commercial company).

*The chip itself it siting at about 50 mK in a dilution fridge in their lab in Vancover, i.e. they won't show the "real" setup at the demonstrations; they will simply remote control the thing from the various demonstration sites.

*Rose claims that it will be "easy" to scale this up to 1000 qubits. I disagree, even neglecting the problem with coherence you have the problem of parameter spread in the fabrication which is much larger than for e.g. Si technology, even ordinary RSFQ circuits run into problem when you scale things up to 1000 elements and a QC is much more sensitive.

*They haven't said anything about coherence time yet, this is the most crucial parameter of all and it is a bit strange that Rose refuse to give even a rough figure.

*The "computer" is essentially a "physics card" which can be used to simulate Ising-type models, i.e. it is not a "universal" QC. I shoul, however, give a 4x speedup compared to a conventional computer.

Don't get me wrong. If this thing really works as a QC (albeti adiabatically) it is stil a very nice experiment. However, I would like to know more about the energy gaps and the coherence time before I am convinced.




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Old 01-29-2007, 08:44 PM   #8
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

This is going to be worthless if it doesn't do one of two things.

1. Run DX10 awsome

2. Be picked up by the US Defense Dept.
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Old 01-30-2007, 01:42 AM   #9
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

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Originally posted by: mozirry
This is going to be worthless if it doesn't do one of two things.

1. Run DX10 awsome

2. Be picked up by the US Defense Dept.
... 1. DirectX 10 was not made for quantum computing, so I'm pretty sure it will not work, or will not have the full capabilities that it should have. HOWEVER, Quantum computers would be extremely good at raytracing, which would allow them to achieve photo-realistic picture quality very easily, at 700 MHZ, or less even (raytracing is HIGHLY threadable, which quantum computing is built for)

2. Of course the US defense Dept would use something like this, the ability to try every single encryption code in one cycle is just too good for anyone to pass up.

Quantum computing, if perfected, would definitely change a lot of things. Right now, there are not a lot of programs that would really use quantum computers to their full potential (heck there are not very many that will run 4 core processors to their full potential). But if it really got popular, you would see some major changes to programing and computer design. The fact that one quantum core is equal to basically infinite cored processors really shows how powerful these machines could be.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:27 AM   #10
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

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Originally posted by: Cogman
HOWEVER, Quantum computers would be extremely good at raytracing, which would allow them to achieve photo-realistic picture quality very easily, at 700 MHZ, or less even (raytracing is HIGHLY threadable, which quantum computing is built for)
I doubt it. Quantum computers are good at certain NP hard problems such as factorization and database searches, for other problems such as raytracing a conventional computer is likely to be much faster.
It is important to understand that QCs are NOT "universal", you need algorithms that explicitly make use of quantum superposition in order to get an exponential speedup (as in e.g. Shor's algorithm) and whereas quite a few algorihms are known only a few are truly usefull.

There is another class of problems where QCs might be usefull and that is to simulate other quantum systems, e.g. molecular dynamics. The idea is to use the QC as an "artifical molecule" and "encode" the quantum states of the reasl molecule into a suitable form. This is the potential market for the kind of quantum computer D-Wave is working on. A QC of this type would be usefull even if it only had a few hundred qubits which might be attainable within the next few years.

A "real" QC needs something like 10 000 qubits in order to be significantly faster than a conventional supercomputer; at the moment we are not even sure if that is possible. It will probably take another 20 years or so before we have a practical QC.








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Old 01-30-2007, 10:15 AM   #11
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

I'm more interested in their cooling system than the performance of this machine.
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Old 01-30-2007, 12:12 PM   #12
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It is just an ordinary dilution fridge, nothing special.
Probably a Kelvinox 400 from Oxford Instruments.
Properly wired it can reach just below 20 mK but with the kind of heat load they have the base temperature is probably 30-40 mK.


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Old 01-30-2007, 02:31 PM   #13
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

Quote:
Originally posted by: StopSign
I'm more interested in their cooling system than the performance of this machine.
Simple answer:

They use LN2 to cool it down to a fairly low temperature, then they use liquid helium 4 to cool it to 4.2 Kelvin, and then they start up the dilution fridge. It's basically a mixture of helium 3 and helium 4. You then pump really hard (ie vacuum) on the mixture and as the helium 3 evaporates it takes the latent heat of vapourization with it (sort of like how evaporating sweat cools you down). This cools the he3/he4 mixture down to the milli-Kelvin range.

I think the one we have in our lab has been down to 25 mK for some measurements.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:00 PM   #14
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Originally posted by: silverpig
I think the one we have in our lab has been down to 25 mK for some measurements.
That's pretty cool. No one tried to lick it?
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Old 01-30-2007, 07:48 PM   #15
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

Quote:
Originally posted by: StopSign
Quote:
Originally posted by: silverpig
I think the one we have in our lab has been down to 25 mK for some measurements.
That's pretty cool. No one tried to lick it?
Well, you can't really. The thing looks like (and is about the same size as) a hot water heater. The actual fridge itself is a ~5 inch diameter cylinder about 4 feet long that has a 1.25 inch diameter cylinder way down at the bottom end of it. This whole thing goes inside the hot water heater, then helium is pumped in etc... When it's that cold you can't really get to it.
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Old 01-31-2007, 12:09 AM   #16
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

Quote:
Originally posted by: silverpig
Quote:
Originally posted by: StopSign
Quote:
Originally posted by: silverpig
I think the one we have in our lab has been down to 25 mK for some measurements.
That's pretty cool. No one tried to lick it?
Well, you can't really. The thing looks like (and is about the same size as) a hot water heater. The actual fridge itself is a ~5 inch diameter cylinder about 4 feet long that has a 1.25 inch diameter cylinder way down at the bottom end of it. This whole thing goes inside the hot water heater, then helium is pumped in etc... When it's that cold you can't really get to it.
How do you measure the temperature when it's that low?
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Old 01-31-2007, 02:49 AM   #17
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

Quote:
Originally posted by: bobsmith1492
Quote:
Originally posted by: silverpig
Quote:
Originally posted by: StopSign
Quote:
Originally posted by: silverpig
I think the one we have in our lab has been down to 25 mK for some measurements.
That's pretty cool. No one tried to lick it?
Well, you can't really. The thing looks like (and is about the same size as) a hot water heater. The actual fridge itself is a ~5 inch diameter cylinder about 4 feet long that has a 1.25 inch diameter cylinder way down at the bottom end of it. This whole thing goes inside the hot water heater, then helium is pumped in etc... When it's that cold you can't really get to it.
How do you measure the temperature when it's that low?

There are a few different sensors that work. The most common one being Ruthenium Oxide.
It has a resistance whcih varies with temperature (on most sensors the resistance increases from about 2K at room temperature to 100K at 20 mK), it is measured using a resistance bridge (you can't use an ordinary multimeter because the current is too high, it heats the sensor).
In a typical fridge you have a 4 or 5 different sensors covering different temperature ranges located at the various stages (e.g. 4K plate, still, mixing chamber and sample).

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Old 02-01-2007, 06:16 PM   #18
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

Quantum computing..oh man...I have to appreciate the subtle irony found in "developing" hardware based on a branch science that is essentially just a theory. My understanding of quantum mechanics is minimal, but it comes across as "mathematical faith". We couldn't figure out how the universe works on the lowest levels so we created quantum mechanics as our little messiah, which lets us makes theories work - even if these theories do not necessarily carry over into our reality.

Quote:
*The chip itself it siting at about 50 mK in a dilution fridge in their lab in Vancover, i.e. they won't show the "real" setup at the demonstrations; they will simply remote control the thing from the various demonstration sites.
How do you know there actually is a "chip"? Basically that means the "demos" could be little more than a hopped up Powerpoint presentation. =) Seems to be a ploy to get more money.
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Old 02-01-2007, 06:44 PM   #19
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

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Originally posted by: EricMartello


How do you know there actually is a "chip"? Basically that means the "demos" could be little more than a hopped up Powerpoint presentation. =) Seems to be a ploy to get more money.
I don't. However, I doubt even D-Wave would like to try a stunt like that. There ARE some issues about just how "quantum mechanical" the operations is (to be more specific: How long the coherence time is, and whether or not there is a way to tell if the algorihms would work also without entanglement).
As I pointed out above what they are demonstrating is essentially just an extension of work they did with (among others) IPHT-Jena so the principle is sound. Also. there are many research groups around the world that are working on similar circuits; many of them have demonstrated coupled qubits (but not nearly as many as 16, most can only manage 2). Seveal quantum computing algorithms have already been demonstrated using e.g. NMR, a few years ago they factorized the number 15 using a 7 bit quantum computer (the "bits" in that case were all atoms in a molecule).

Your understanding of quantum mechanics could definitly be better. It is a very succefull theoretical framework that has been around for over 80 years now and has passed every test with flying colours. We do actually know quite a lot of how the universe works, it is alot weirder than Newton&Co could ever have imagined but then is that really surprising?

Note that most modern electronics use quantum mechnical phenomena at some level and in some cases quite explicitly. E.g. the new transistor from Intel is designed to reduce the tunnellling currents through the barrier. Quantum mechanical tunnelling actually belong to the same class of phenomena as the effects used to build a quantum computer.

I should also mention that it is possible to see QM phenomena even in "large thingss", the most famous example is superfluid helium (which you can see if you use a glass dewar)but also in electronics.
The circuits I am using can be seen by the naked eye (some parts are over 1 mm in size) and they are definitly "quantum mechanical" (the theory that describes their operation is called quantum electrodynamics).

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Old 02-01-2007, 11:56 PM   #20
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

I don't need to understand quantum mechanics...if it becomes something I can make money with, I will pay someone who knows what I need to know, but there's no denying that it is just theoretical. Yes, it's true that the some of the theories in QM can be applied to our physical reality, nobody can really tell us what exactly happens if we venture into a black hole, or what a black hole actually is. Hey, stephen hawking thought he had it figured out - for 30 years - then basically admitted he was wrong...so just because quantum theory is enduring doesn't mean it's how things actually are. Keep in mind we are trying to understand something in a way that is rational to us as humans. It's somewhat arrogant to think that we would even be able to comprehend the "truth" about this universe, because if it was something we could understand (and possible control) then essentially we'd elevate to "god like" status, right?
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Old 02-02-2007, 02:35 AM   #21
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

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Originally posted by: EricMartello
I don't need to understand quantum mechanics...if it becomes something I can make money with, I will pay someone who knows what I need to know, but there's no denying that it is just theoretical. Yes, it's true that the some of the theories in QM can be applied to our physical reality, nobody can really tell us what exactly happens if we venture into a black hole, or what a black hole actually is. Hey, stephen hawking thought he had it figured out - for 30 years - then basically admitted he was wrong...so just because quantum theory is enduring doesn't mean it's how things actually are. Keep in mind we are trying to understand something in a way that is rational to us as humans. It's somewhat arrogant to think that we would even be able to comprehend the "truth" about this universe, because if it was something we could understand (and possible control) then essentially we'd elevate to "god like" status, right?
QM has almost nothing (other than hawking radiation I guess) to do with black holes. And it is much more than theoretical. The most accurate experiments taken to date agree with quantum mechanics 100%. I believe the current accuracy limit is 14 decimal places, and that's only because of the limits of our measurements.
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Old 02-02-2007, 11:45 PM   #22
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

Quote:
Originally posted by: EricMartello
I don't need to understand quantum mechanics...if it becomes something I can make money with, I will pay someone who knows what I need to know, but there's no denying that it is just theoretical. Yes, it's true that the some of the theories in QM can be applied to our physical reality, nobody can really tell us what exactly happens if we venture into a black hole, or what a black hole actually is. Hey, stephen hawking thought he had it figured out - for 30 years - then basically admitted he was wrong...so just because quantum theory is enduring doesn't mean it's how things actually are. Keep in mind we are trying to understand something in a way that is rational to us as humans. It's somewhat arrogant to think that we would even be able to comprehend the "truth" about this universe, because if it was something we could understand (and possible control) then essentially we'd elevate to "god like" status, right?
QM is more realistic than classical physics. as a matter of fact, classical physics can be derived from quantum physics. im not sure where you are trying to go with your arguement, but it doesnt make much sense. the fact is we can observe what happens around us and form theories to predict when/if it will happen again. that is what physics is all about. understanding how the world works, and QM does a good job of explaining it exactly.
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Old 02-03-2007, 12:26 AM   #23
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

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Originally posted by: EricMartello
I don't need to understand quantum mechanics...if it becomes something I can make money with, I will pay someone who knows what I need to know, but there's no denying that it is just theoretical.
Ah man I want some of the stuff you're smoking there. QM is not just theoretical, it has been repeatedly verified and observed for almost a century now. There are a myriad of products out there that work based on QM. Like every semiconductor device, scanning electron microscopes, and photodiodes.
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Old 02-03-2007, 12:40 AM   #24
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Default First fully end-to-end quantum computer is a reality

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Originally posted by: MrDudeMan
Quote:
Originally posted by: EricMartello
I don't need to understand quantum mechanics...if it becomes something I can make money with, I will pay someone who knows what I need to know, but there's no denying that it is just theoretical. Yes, it's true that the some of the theories in QM can be applied to our physical reality, nobody can really tell us what exactly happens if we venture into a black hole, or what a black hole actually is. Hey, stephen hawking thought he had it figured out - for 30 years - then basically admitted he was wrong...so just because quantum theory is enduring doesn't mean it's how things actually are. Keep in mind we are trying to understand something in a way that is rational to us as humans. It's somewhat arrogant to think that we would even be able to comprehend the "truth" about this universe, because if it was something we could understand (and possible control) then essentially we'd elevate to "god like" status, right?
QM is more realistic than classical physics. as a matter of fact, classical physics can be derived from quantum physics. im not sure where you are trying to go with your arguement, but it doesnt make much sense. the fact is we can observe what happens around us and form theories to predict when/if it will happen again. that is what physics is all about. understanding how the world works, and QM does a good job of explaining it exactly.
Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Classical physics can be derived from quantum mechanics?

Last I'd heard, there was a huge gap between the world of the "big" and the world of the "small," and the world was waiting for someone to come up with the GUT - grand unifying theory - that would merge the two into a functional theory. String theory has been one attempt.

Would you mind deriving classical physics from quantum mechanics for me?
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Old 02-03-2007, 12:43 AM   #25
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You seem to forget that it wasn't until Hawking presented his ideas on singularities by merging the math behind classical and quantum physics that people stopped quarreling and started thinking. Before that, it was pretty divided. The whole idea behind the "quantum sciences" is to understand the universe and its workings at a fundamental level...but there's a lot we don't know yet. For example, what is dark matter? People who think they know something love to draw conclusions on inconclusive data...and while we have made some progress in our understanding of universal fundamentals, much remains a mystery. For example, we knew enough about atoms to make a nuclear weapon, and for the longest time people believed atoms were the fundamental particle in the universe.........until we discovered subatomic particles. And now, it's the same thing...sure, we can make devices that work based on theoretical principles, but that doesn't really prove anything other than we can make some nice CPUs and microscopes.
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