F.A.Q's:Quantum Mechanics

  1. How should we think about quantum mechanics?  For example, what is meant by a "measurement" in quantum mechanics?  Does "wavefunction collapse" actually happen as a physical process?  If so, how, and under what conditions?  If not, what happens instead?
    Many physicists think these issues are settled, at least for most practical purposes.  However, some still think the last word has not been heard.  Asking about this topic in a roomful of physicists is the best way to start an argument, unless they all say "Oh no, not that again!".  There are many books to read on this subject, but most of them disagree.
  2. Can we build a working quantum computer big enough to do things ordinary computers can't easily do?
    This question is to some extent impacted by the previous one, but it also has a strong engineering aspect to it.  Some physicists think quantum computers are impossible in principle; more think they are possible in principle, but are still unsure if they will ever be practical.Here are some ways to learn more about quantum computation:
    • Centre for Quantum Computation home page.
    • John Preskill, course notes on quantum computation.
    • Michael A. Nielsen and Isaac L. Chuang, Quantum Computation and Quantum Information, Cambridge U. Press, Cambridge, 2000.  Errata, table of contents and Chapter 1 available here.


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