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Quantum on Quantum

Entangled photons validate Feynman’s vision for simulating nature

By
12:51pm, February 12, 2010

Almost three decades ago, Richard Feynman — known popularly as much for his bongo drumming and pranks as for his brilliant insights into physics — told an electrified audience at MIT how to build a computer so powerful that its simulations “will do exactly the same as nature.”

Not approximately, as digital computers tend to do when faced with complex physical problems that must be addressed via mathematical shortcuts — such as forecasting orbits of many moons whose gravity constantly readjusts their trajectories. Computer models of climate and other processes come close to nature but hardly replicate it. Feynman meant exactly, as in down to the last jot.

Now, finally, groups at Harvard University and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, have designed and built a computer that hews closely to these specs. It is a quantum computer, as Feynman forecast. And it is the first quantum computer to simulate and calcu

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