A Commonplace Book

Home | Authors | Titles | Words | Subject | Random Quote | Advanced Search | About...


Since the universe itself is built on quantum systems such as atoms, and since all quantum systems are continually exchanging information, Lloyd concludes that the universe must be a giant quantum computer. And what does this machine compute? "It computes itself. The universe computes its own behavior."
Throughout history, humans have interpreted the world in terms of things they know. The ancient creator gods behaved like super-humans, coupling and breeding and giving birth to the cosmos, or fashioning its elements from familiar technologies such as weaving or molding clay. Modern scientific accounts also have drawn heavily on familiar contemporary tropes: In the 17th century, the universe was seen as a vast clockwork system. By the 19th, when the study of magnetic and electrical phenomena was hot, it was reconceived as a network of invisible force fields. At the dawn of the age of digital computers, scientists speculated that it was one of these machines.

Inevitably, we see the whole through the lens of the particular.

-- Margaret Wertheim reviewing Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos by Seth Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 2, 2006.
previous | permalink | next