March 14, 2006
Is the universe actually a giant quantum computer? According to Seth Lloyd – Professor of Quantum-Mechanical Engineering at MIT and originator of the first technologically feasible design for a working quantum computer – the answer is yes. This wonderfully accessible book illuminates the professional and personal paths that led him to this remarkable conclusion.
All interactions between particles in the universe, Lloyd explains, convey not only energy but also information – in other words, particles not only collide, they compute. And what is the entire universe computing, ultimately? “Its own dynamical evolution,” he says. “As the computation proceeds, reality unfolds.”
To elucidate his theory, Lloyd examines the history of the cosmos, posing questions that in another hands might seem unfathomably complex: How much information is there in the universe? What information existed at the moment of the Big Bang and what happened to it? How do quantum mechanics and chaos theory interact to create our world? Could we attempt to re-create it on a giant quantum computer?
Programming the Universe presents an original and compelling vision of reality, revealing our world in an entirely new light.
Seth Lloyd is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, principal investigator at the Research Laboratory of Electronics, and the designer of the first feasible quantum computer. He has been featured in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, and Wired, among other publications. His name frequently appears (as both writer and subject) in the pages of Nature, New Scientist, Science, and Scientific American. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.