Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quantum Computing Crackpottery

All Quantum Computing Articles

No other branch of science surpasses physics when it comes to promoting crackpottery. Most of us are already familiar with some of the more blatant instances of a science gone awry. Things like time travel, wormholes, black holes, parallel universes, etc... have already entered popular culture thanks to Hollywood's enfatuation with physics myths. Physicists believe that they are above public scrutiny because they are convinced that the public is too stupid to understand what they do. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the new "science" of quantum computing.

Physicists pride themselves in that theirs is a science based strictly on observation but they pay lip service to empiricism when it suits their political agenda. Consider that quantum computing (QC) is based on the concept of state superposition, a concept that was made famous in the last century by none other than quantum physics luminary and Nobel Prize winner, Erwin Schrodinger. Schrodinger asserted in his now famous Schrodinger's cat thought experiment that a subatomic particle can have two states simultaneously, both decayed and not decayed. Problem is, this superposition of states can never be observed because (using the quantum physics lingo) observation causes the wave function to collapse. So much for empiricism.

This reminds me of a young kid who insisted that he could jump as high as a tall building but only when nobody was looking. It would be funny it it weren't so pathetic. Unobservable superposition of states has become part of quantum physics' credo, so much so that an entire research industry has mushroomed in recent years to take advantage of the hype surrounding QC. I don't know how much money have been spent on it but it must be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. One of the most visible champion of QC is a physicist named David Deutsch. Deutsch believes in all sorts of voodoo science including the physical possiblity of time travel and the existence of an infinite number of parallel universes. Indeed, superposition is so blatantly false that some physicists felt it necessary (probably out of shame) to postulate the existence of parallel universes, one for every possible superposed quantum state. As Feyerabend wrote, "the most stupid procedures and the most laughable results in their domain are surrounded with an aura of excellence". The crackpottery never ends.

It is interesting to note that physicists have no clue as to why particle decay is probabilistic. And yet, in spite of this glaring lacuna in their understanding combined with the lack of observation, they feel free to tell us mere mortals that we must believe in their crackpottery. QC fanatics will point out that QC is a proven fact that has been demonstrated in the laboratory. Don't you believe it! It is all (to borrow a favorite term from the vernacular) bullshit. Periodic QC announcements in the media are just part of the hype and a way for researchers to justify continued funding. QC is either hoax or crackpottery or both. If you are a QC physicist and you feel that I am defaming your profession, then by all means, let the courts decide.

No comments: