Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Quantum computers will be able to simulate particle collisions
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jun 07, 2012

Illustration only.

Quantum computers are still years away, but a trio of theorists has already figured out at least one talent they may have. According to the theorists, including one from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), physicists might one day use quantum computers to study the inner workings of the universe in ways that are far beyond the reach of even the most powerful conventional supercomputers.

Quantum computers require technology that may not be perfected for decades, but they hold great promise for solving complex problems. The switches in their processors will take advantage of quantum mechanics - the laws that govern the interaction of subatomic particles.

These laws allow quantum switches to exist in both on and off states simultaneously, so they will be able to consider all possible solutions to a problem at once.

This unique talent, far beyond the capability of today's computers, could enable quantum computers to solve some currently difficult problems quickly, such as breaking complex codes. But they could look at more challenging problems as well.

"We have this theoretical model of the quantum computer, and one of the big questions is, what physical processes that occur in nature can that model represent efficiently?" said Stephen Jordan, a theorist in NIST's Applied and Computational Mathematics Division.

"Maybe particle collisions, maybe the early universe after the Big Bang? Can we use a quantum computer to simulate them and tell us what to expect?"

Questions like these involve tracking the interaction of many different elements, a situation that rapidly becomes too complicated for today's most powerful computers.

The team developed an algorithm - a series of instructions that can be run repeatedly - that could run on any functioning quantum computer, regardless of the specific technology that will eventually be used to build it. The algorithm would simulate all the possible interactions between two elementary particles colliding with each other, something that currently requires years of effort and a large accelerator to study.

Simulating these collisions is a very hard problem for today's digital computers because the quantum state of the colliding particles is very complex and, therefore, difficult to represent accurately with a feasible number of bits.

The team's algorithm, however, encodes the information that describes this quantum state far more efficiently using an array of quantum switches, making the computation far more reasonable.

The algorithm is described in the June 1, 2012, issue of Science.*

A substantial amount of the work on the algorithm was done at the California Institute of Technology, while Jordan was a postdoctoral fellow. His coauthors are fellow postdoc Keith S.M. Lee (now a postdoc at the University of Pittsburgh) and Caltech's John Preskill, the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics.

The team used the principles of quantum mechanics to prove their algorithm can sum up the effects of the interactions between colliding particles well enough to generate the sort of data that an accelerator would provide.

"What's nice about the simulation is that you can raise the complexity of the problem by increasing the energy of the particles and collisions, but the difficulty of solving the problem does not increase so fast that it becomes unmanageable," Preskill says. "It means a quantum computer could handle it feasibly."

Though their algorithm only addresses one specific type of collision, the team speculates that their work could be used to explore the entire theoretical foundation on which fundamental physics rests.

"We believe this work could apply to the entire standard model of physics," Jordan says. "It could allow quantum computers to serve as a sort of wind tunnel for testing ideas that often require accelerators today."

S.P. Jordan, K.S.M. Lee and J. Preskill. Quantum Algorithms for Quantum Field Theories. Science, June 1, 2012, DOI 10.1126/science.1217069.


Related Links
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Understanding Time and Space

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Exotic particles, chilled and trapped, form giant matter wave
San Diego CA (SPX) May 29, 2012
Physicists have trapped and cooled exotic particles called excitons so effectively that they condensed and cohered to form a giant matter wave. This feat will allow scientists to better study the physical properties of excitons, which exist only fleetingly yet offer promising applications as diverse as efficient harvesting of solar energy and ultrafast computing. "The realization of the ex ... read more

UA Lunar-Mining Team Wins National Contest

NASA Lunar Spacecraft Complete Prime Mission Ahead of Schedule

NASA Offers Guidelines To Protect Historic Sites On The Moon

Neil Armstrong gives rare interview - to accountant

Wind may have driven avalanches on Martian dunes

On The Hunt For Light-Toned Veins Of Gypsum

Mars missions may learn from meteor Down Under

Waking Up with the Sun's Rays

European Union launches latest space regulation efforts

CU-Boulder students to help NASA develop plant food production for deep space

China calls for inclusive development of outer space

New Moon for India

What will China's Taikonauts do aboard Tiangong 1?

Why is China sending a woman into space?

China launches telecommunication satellite

Tiangong 1 Ready To Meet Shenzhou 9

Capillarity in Space - Then and Now, 1962-2012

Dragon on board

SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 Dragon on Historic Mission

SpaceX Dragon Transports Student Experiments to Space Station

Another Ariane 5 begins its initial build-up at the Spaceport

Boeing Receives DARPA Airborne Satellite Launch Study Contract

Sea Launch Delivers the Intelsat 19 Spacecraft into Orbit

SpaceX Dragon capsule splash lands in Pacific

Tiny Planet-Finding Mirrors Borrow from Webb Telescope Playbook

Astronomers Probe 'Evaporating' Planet Around Nearby Star with Hobby-Eberly Telescope

Venus transit may boost hunt for other worlds

NSO To Use Venus Transit To Fine-Tune Search For Other Worlds

Samsung vows US launch of Galaxy despite Apple suit

Repelling the drop on top

Elvis Lives! US firm to create 'virtual' Presley

Taiwan's HTC denies Microsoft snub over Windows 8

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement