Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sliders: Not Just a Great Show...

Anyone remember that show? It had a few recognizable folks in it, namely the guy from Indiana Jones that eventually went on to play Gimili in the Lord of the Rings films.

An old friend of mine posted an update on facebook a few days ago and asked (rhetorically, I'm sure) about the relevance of Einstein's Relativity. I immediately thought of modern GPS systems, which would be almost unusable if relativisitic effects weren't accounted for, but I decided not to post a response, it was rhetorical after all.

But I kept thinking about it, my mind wondered some and I thought instead of Einstein's bastard step-child... quantum physics. Anyone not familiar with Einstein and his distaste for quantum physics should get a kick out of reading up on in, it's quite a hoot.

Part of his hatred for for the topic is the very ugly model of the universe it presents, matter popping in and out of existence, traveling backward in time, casuality circumventing processes, and most frustrating of all, an inabilty, even in theory, of knowing how an individual sub atomic particle would react in any given situation. Quantum mechanics made everthing about probabilites and statistical models. It just sucked.

He was even more bitter that it more or less got it's start after his magical equation, E=mc^2, got the world thinking about the implications of that magical equation.

During the intervening 100 years or so, lots of folks have had lots of ideas about what quantum mechanics implies about the nature of the universe we live in. One of those hypothesese used to explain some of the rather bizarre results of tests conducted about the sub-atomic world is profound... there are multiple universes.

Seriously, there are other universes, other dimensions, other versions of you and I that live in worlds very similar to our own with only the most minor of differences. How weird is that? They could make a whole show out of that concept... oh wait, they did.

So, anyway, what makes multiple universes something that most folks never think about is the fact that you can't really visit them. Can't really interact with them in any real way. They might as well not exist. It was just a clever little thought experiment used to help explain the data after all.

But then some genius out there thought if that were true then maybe we could use that infinite number of universes to our advantage after all. Build a machine that will calculate every possible outcome simply by having all those other universes get involved at the same time.

Example: One bit of information can be off in our universe and on in another universe at the same time. So we can string together all these bits (which would be atoms in an quantum computer I suppose) and each of them can outsource their extra work into another universe and they can be working at the same time in both universes. Once a solution to the problem is found the answer pops out into our universe and almost no time has been used up.

I'm sure there are those out there than can point out how awfully bad I butchered my explanation of a quantum computer, but I did my best.

Anyway, it sounds retarded I know, but nonetheless that is exactly what has happened. Quantum computers really exist now, they don't outright prove that we live in a mulitverse, but they come pretty damn close to proving it. Philosophically, this could very well be rewriting textbooks all over the world. Check out this short video on the subject below. It doesn't do the greatest job I've ever seen explaining quantum computing, but I really don't think there is an elegant way to do so. The whole topic is just very twighlight zoney.

Don't forget though folks, quantum computers will be evil too, they'll just be evil faster.

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