'Seeing' the quantum world

December 17, 2008

Quantum physics is both mysterious and difficult to grasp. Barry Sanders, director of the University of Calgary's Institute for Quantum Information Science, is hoping to change that.

Sanders, who is also the iCORE Chair of Quantum Information Science, has produced a four-minute animated movie with a team of animators and scientists. The film is intended for funding agencies, the public, and interdisciplinary teams building quantum computers, so they can see how a quantum computer would work and its underlying science.

For the first time, a detailed description on the making of Sanders' animation—Solid State Quantum Computer in Silicon—was published this month in the New Journal of Physics. This issue is devoted to the leading uses of visualization in astrophysics, biophysics, geophysics, medical physics and quantum physics and Sanders is one the guest editors for this issue.

"The goal of our animated movie about the quantum computer is to convey to a non-expert audience the nature of quantum computation: its power, how it would work, what it would look like," says Sanders, who also has an article published in the December issue of Physics World on the making of his four-minute animation.

"The animation incorporates state-of-the-art techniques to show the science and the technology in the most accurate and exciting way possible while being true to the underlying principles of quantum computing," says Sanders.

The animated movie was completed last year but the clips have not been publicly distributed before now.

Quantum computers harness the power of atoms and molecules and have the potential to calculate significantly faster than any existing computer could. Some hard computational problems that can't be solved ever by foreseeable computers become easily solved on quantum computers, which could make today's secure communication obsolete. Basic quantum computers that can perform certain calculations exist; but a practical quantum computer is still years away.

"There is a history of simple visualization over the last century to convey quantum concepts," says Sanders. He notes that Erwin Schrödinger introduced his eponymous cat, which is left in a tragic state of being in a superposition of life and death, an illustration of the strangeness of quantum theory. And the uncertainty principle associated with Werner Heisenberg and his fictional gamma ray microscope, has found its way into common English parlance.

"The imagery of the early days of quantum mechanics played a crucial role in understanding and accepting quantum theory. Our work takes this imagery a quantum leap forward by using the state-of-the-art animation techniques to explain clearly and quickly the nature of quantum computing which is, by its very nature, counterintuitive."

Source: University of Calgary

Explore further: Researcher sketches a path toward quantum computing

Related Stories

Researcher sketches a path toward quantum computing

November 16, 2017

As new devices move quantum computing closer to practical use, the journal Nature recently asked Princeton computer scientist Margaret Martonosi and two colleagues to assess the state of software needed to exploit this powerful ...

Simple is beautiful in quantum computing

November 15, 2017

Quantum computing could solve problems impossible for today's supercomputers. The challenge for this new form of computing is processing the quantum bits (qubits) that represent data. A qubit can be made by controlling the ...

Black holes, curved spacetime and quantum computing

November 14, 2017

Rotating black holes and computers that use quantum-mechanical phenomena to process information are topics that have fascinated science lovers for decades, but even the most innovative thinkers rarely put them together. Now, ...

Recommended for you

How the Earth stops high-energy neutrinos in their tracks

November 22, 2017

Neutrinos are abundant subatomic particles that are famous for passing through anything and everything, only very rarely interacting with matter. About 100 trillion neutrinos pass through your body every second. Now, scientists ...

Lightning, with a chance of antimatter

November 22, 2017

A storm system approaches: the sky darkens, and the low rumble of thunder echoes from the horizon. Then without warning... Flash! Crash!—lightning has struck.

Quantum internet goes hybrid

November 22, 2017

In a recent study published in Nature, ICFO researchers led by ICREA Prof. Hugues de Riedmatten report an elementary "hybrid" quantum network link and demonstrate photonic quantum communication between two distinct quantum ...

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

November 22, 2017

Researchers have discovered that dense ensembles of quantum spins can be created in diamond with high resolution using an electron microscopes, paving the way for enhanced sensors and resources for quantum technologies.

Study shows how to get sprayed metal coatings to stick

November 21, 2017

When bonding two pieces of metal, either the metals must melt a bit where they meet or some molten metal must be introduced between the pieces. A solid bond then forms when the metal solidifies again. But researchers at MIT ...

7 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

matelot
3.3 / 5 (3) Dec 17, 2008
Is the video not available online? What a complete waste.
itistoday
5 / 5 (2) Dec 17, 2008
Found what could be the video being referred to here:

http://www.eureka...m=127696

Warning: it's not very useful without someone explaining what's going on...
earls
5 / 5 (2) Dec 17, 2008
The rest of the videos:

http://www.iop.or.../125005/
OregonWind
4 / 5 (1) Dec 17, 2008
Good luck to Barry Sanders! I took QM and Advanced QM and I still think that the quantum world is pretty difficult to visualize therefore I only rely on math.
Mayday
1 / 5 (1) Dec 17, 2008
Oh, I get it now!
Alizee
Dec 17, 2008
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Alizee
Dec 18, 2008
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.