We could be living in a Matrix-like digital world – a computer simulation? If MIT professor Seth Lloyd is correct – it’s possible. [VIDEO] According to Lloyd, a researcher in Mechanical Engineering and one of the leaders in the field of quantum information, “the universe can be regarded as a giant quantum computer.
Quantum computational universe
The quantum computational model of the universe explains a variety of observed phenomena not encompassed by the ordinary laws of physics. In particular, the model shows that the quantum computational universe automatically gives rise to a mix of randomness and order, and to both simple and complex systems.” If the universe is indeed a giant quantum computer—that is, a computer operating on the principles of quantum mechanics—what are its building blocks? Bits, according to Lloyd.
“A bit is the tiniest unit of information. It represents the distinction between two possibilities: yes or no, true or false, zero or one. The word “bit” also refers to the physical system representing that information: in your computer’s hard drive, for example, a bit is registered by a minuscule magnet whose north pole can point up or down,“ Lloyd says.
He continues, “Any system that has two distinct states can act as a bit – even an individual elementary particle: “electron over here” represents zero, “electron over there” represents one. When the electron goes from here to there, the bit flips. At this smallest of scales, however, the universe is governed by the famously weird laws of quantum mechanics. Computers that operate using quantum bits (or qubits), such as those stored on individual electrons, inherit this weirdness: bits can read 0 and 1 simultaneously, and quantum computers can solve problems classical computers cannot.”
“Over the last two decades, a flourishing field of quantum information and computation has generated a wealth of experimental and theoretical tests of information processing at the quantum scale. Starting in 2000, in a series of papers published in Nature, Science and Physical Review Letters, my colleagues and I were able to quantify the exact information processing capacity of the entire universe.” Their work showed that a universal quantum computer was a possibility, demonstrating the limits on the computation that could be performed within a given volume of space-time.
How does a quantum computer differ from a regular computer? And what’s the advantage of a quantum computer? The “bits” of a regular computer are 0s and 1s. A quantum computer has quantum bits, or “qubits.” Unlike 0s and 1s, qubits can be in one state, or another, or somewhere in-between. Thus, a quantum computer can store and process vastly more information than a regular one. And, instead of needing to be connected to the entire system to deliver information, a qubit can relay information instantly.
The idea that the universe could be a computer emerged in the 1960s, with scientists Ed Fredkin and Konrad Zuse both posing the possibility. If the universe is indeed a quantum computer, the question of who runs that computer still lies in the stars.
Source: MIT, New Scientist