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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Photons at the End of the Quantum Tunnel

Simulation of quantum complexity — simplified (a bit)

An example of Tunnel Effect - The evolution of...
An example of Tunnel Effect - The evolution of the wave function of an electron through a potential barrier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Related source » First Simulation Of Quantum Tunnelling On A Quantum Computer: 'via Blog this'
[This related source is recommended in its entirety.]

“The exploitation of quantum weirdness for computing is one of the great goals of modern physics. It's promise is dramatic for a wide range of number-crunching tasks. But quantum computers have another trick up their sleeves, which is sometimes forgotten — the ability to simulate other quantum systems. Physicists have already shown how quantum computers of various types can simulate phenomen[a], such as quantum phase transitions and the dynamics of entanglement — things that classical computers simply cannot handle. There is one quantum phenomenon, however, that has never been simulated — tunnelling. This is the ability of quantum particles to cross a barrier without seeming to have passed through it. There's no reason, in principle, why quantum computers can't simulate tunnelling. The problem is the complexity of the task. […] Earlier this year, however, Andrew Sornborger at the University of Georgia in Athens showed how the case of a single particle tunnelling through a barrier could be made simple enough to simulate on today's quantum computers. Such a demonstration would be the first example of a digital quantum simulation. And today, Guan Ru Feng and pals at Tsinghua University in Beijing say they've done it. […] That should open the floodgates for more digital quantum simulations in [the] future.” [emphasis added]
— Technology Review (KFC), 05/15/2012 (

The deeper we probe the quantum physics (sub-atomic) regime the more fascinating are the counter-intuitive phenomena encountered. The exemplar of such mind-boggling weirdness has been quantum tunnelling, wherein a particle, such as an electron, quantum-mechanically tunnels through an energy-potential barrier, which it seemingly could not surmount, according to classical physics.

The pioneers of the theory of quantum mechanics (Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, et al.) were able to formulate the theory of quantum mechanics via classical techniques of theoretical and experimental physics, in the first half of the twentieth century. But mathematics and classical physics required a major innovation for the successful completion of the Manhattan Project (Oppenheimer, von Neumann, Ulam, Fermi, Feynman, Rabi, and many other American greats of 20th-century physics and mathematics) that ushered in the age of nuclear power. That innovation was digital-computer simulation. By the dawn of the third millennium, a veritable explosion of scientific findings has been accomplished with the aid of computer simulation techniques, notably via Monte Carlo simulation, the brain-child of von Neumann and Ulam at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in the early 1940s.

Once again, however, mathematical-physics research is pushing the envelope of complexity shrouding quantum reality. And, once again, another innovation aims to tunnel through that shroud — quantum computing itself for the simulation of other quantum systems!

Human ingenuity boggles this human's mind …

Post 1,812 Photons at the End of the Quantum Tunnel
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