Quantum Computers, AI, and Beer – Machine Design

To people with an inquisitive mind towards science and math, quantum physics might be a fun concept, but confusing to relate to in day-to-day life. Fortunately, this is a passion of Dutch scientist and writer Martijn van Calmthout. In this interview he discusses his new book, Real Quanta: Simplifying Quantum Physics for Einstein and Bohr, explaining how quantum physics is pervasive in everything from our smartphones to plants (and even beer).

Who are you, and what is your background?

I am a Dutch science journalist (56) and writer, working at De Volkskrant, a big national newspaper in The Netherlands. I am a physicist by training, but with a very broad interest in scientific subjects, from quantum physics to climate change.

Why did you write this book?

To most laypersons, quantum physics is the rocket science of today. Brimming with counterintuitive concepts and results, it is hard to imagine these are the inner workings of our reality. But quantum physics rules, and perhaps pointing out this is not just in lab experiments, but in most of real life as well, could mean people accept the weird deeper quantum realities. That was the mission.

What is a quantum computer, and what are its applications?

Quantum computers (QCs) are devices that in principle can do calculations no classic computer could do. It makes use of strange quantum rules that allow bits to be indefinite, instead of just 1 or 0. With these qubits many calculations can performed simultaneously. This can be very useful for cracking secret codes, calculating new pharmaceutical formulas, and even for understanding quantum physics better.

Would this play a role in machine learning and AI?

Yes, a big role, although it remains to be seen if and where QC can be applied. QC is at its best for problems that have

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