×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

$100,000 Prize: Prove Quantum Computers Impossible

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the simultaneously-yes-and-no dept.

Supercomputing 324

mikejuk writes "Quantum computing is currently a major area of research — but is this all a waste of effort? Now Scott Aaronson, a well-known MIT computer scientist, has offered a prize of $100,000 for any proof that quantum computers are impossible: 'I'm now offering a US$100,000 award for a demonstration, convincing to me, that scalable quantum computing is impossible in the physical world.' Notice the two important conditions — 'physical world' and 'scalable.' The proof doesn't have to rule out tiny 'toy' quantum computers, only those that could do any useful work."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

324 comments

Easy, since it's the U.S. (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927519)

Just point a gun at his head and ask him "Convinced?"

Re:Easy, since it's the U.S. (5, Funny)

Haven (34895) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927569)

Just point a gun at his head and ask him "Convinced?"

This is the most concise explanation of a quantum computer I have ever read.

Proving something negative is impossible (3, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927887)

Ever try proving something that is not going to happen?

Try it, and you'll know that it's impossible to prove something that is negative - like proving quantum computer impossible

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928023)

I look forward to seeing your perpetual motion machine.

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928545)

"The velocity of a body remains constant unless the body is acted upon by an external force." -- Newtons First Law of Motion.

So, we take a vacuum well away from any other bodies and set a body in motion.

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928593)

A perpetual motion machine has to produce some work.

project blue book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928049)

they said same thing

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928069)

Please read the original summary (because we all know that you haven't really read it properly) - you don't have to provide 100% proof it impossible - just convincing the person offering the money that it is probably not practical for most real-world situations, which is a whole other kettle of fish.

Hence my whole "just point a gun at him and ask if he's convinced" argument - it works on 2 levels:

1. At the quantum level, both he and the gunholder could be considered in a quantum state - any outside observer cannot state definitively whether he is dead or alive until he either pays the $100,000, or gets shot.

2. The whole "there are no atheists in foxholes" argument.

Also, it is definitely possible to prove a negative. I can prove that there are no lions in my refrigerator, no elephants hiding behind my couch, and no dead zombie typing this comment, to most people's satisfaction, for starters.

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (3, Interesting)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928217)

Also, it is definitely possible to prove a negative. I can prove that there are no lions in my refrigerator, no elephants hiding behind my couch, and no dead zombie typing this comment, to most people's satisfaction, for starters.

The lions in your refrigerator are microscopic. The elephants hiding behind your couch are invisible, and you actually are a dead zombie. You just don't realize it, because of a psychological hallucination that you are not actually dead.

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928223)

I can prove that there are no lions in my refrigerator

Ah, but can you prove there are no quantum lions in your refrigerator?

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (2, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928431)

Proving that there are no lions in your fridge is a badly formed question.

The valid question, and scientifically provable question, is does your fridge currently contain a lion?

The difference is subtle but important. "does your fridge currently contain a lion?" is a positive statement that can be verified through observation and to which the answer is a positive assertion that is valid within the context of the question, "there is not currently a lion in my fridge."

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928451)

An outside observer could state definitively - unless you put the whole state in a closed system. Otherwise any jackass who happens to look over at a) the corpse b) the not corpse is going to bust this whole thing right open. Also, it would need to be a RANDOM stimulus.

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928509)

Prove there will never be a lion in your fridge.

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (4, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928117)

This is not true in mathematics and physics. Lots of things have been proved to be impossible. One can prove, without leaving room for doubt, that the halting problem is undecidable, that no arithmetic theory can be consistent and complete, that the universe cannot allow FTL propagation while obeying both causality and relativity, etc.

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (2)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928299)

Ah but prove causality. A lot of physics starts from what we consider to be reasonable assumptions for how the universe works and than goes from there. That was the whole screwiness with quantum theory it removed a clear predictive chain of causality from the universe. You have things that are much more likely but you essentially have no certainty.

FTL can have causality it is just our mindset that would make it difficult for us to understand. For example if you know the concepts of light cones, where everything is inside the cone that is reachable at less than the speed of light (what we would consider possibility causal since light could get there to cause the state we see locally) and everything outside of the cone is "space-like" and not in causal contact with the events in the cone since light couldn't get to that space time coordinate from the points inside the cone. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_cone)

Now posit FTL travel, which is a valid solution of the relativitistic equations for a mass since it is just the negative root of a quadratic equation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachyon). All that this would mean is that the slope of the sides of the causality cones goes to 0 since a tachyon with an infinite velocity is possible (actually it is the lowest energy tachyon possible since they gain energy by slowing down), thus everything potentially becomes causally linked to each other. You end up thinking things magically happen before their causes (sort of time travel) because we live in the slower than light solutions of the equations so are biased to assume everything causal has to be less than tXc distance away in space time to be linked, but that isn't actually the case.

Mah anyways a long tangent to say: what sounds reasonable and is used to form the bases of our exploration into physics and we assume to be provably true, are often not the case but just "true" from our biased standpoint.

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928125)

Actually, high schoolers around the world prove a negative every year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_root_of_2#Constructive_proof

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928215)

Ever try proving something that is not going to happen?

If you're using a quantum computer, it could go either way.

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (1)

Unoriginal_Nickname (1248894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928479)

I predict that nobody will ever be able to write a program for any Turing-equivalent machine which predicts, for an arbitrary program and input, if that program will halt.

Re:Proving something negative is impossible (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928489)

Quantum computing is math. In math it is possible to prove that some things are not possible, given sufficient constraints.

But the problem as stated is not well enough bounded to admit the possibility of a proof. It needs to be restated precisely.

* with constraints on the hardware that define what is and isn't a quantum computer
* with a definition of what constitutes "useful work". A handheld calculator can do useful work, if useful work is defined as carrying out a few simple mathematical operations at user direction. It's sort a useful model of what that could be. If it can't do operations more quickly and reliably than a person can do them by himself, then it's not useful. In this era useful work could be defined at a much higher level, based on what can be done with ridiculous ease using a present-day conventional handheld computer, such as a smart phone. Say, 100 million 32-bit operations per second under the control of an arbitrary data stream could be defined as a reasonable threshold for "useful work" when compared to conventional computing devices.
* with a constraint on the probability that the computed result will be incorrect. In useful work, there is an expectation that the computer produces either a single answer or one of a set of answers deemed correct with a very low probability of error. This needs to be explicitly stated.
* under what conditions the QC needs to operate? Room temperature? In a magnetically shielded container? In space? Immersed in liquid helium in a chamber 1/2 mile underground?

If you define all those things to remove the ambiguity, it may be possible to show that at least N qubits are required to form the computer and that it would have a probability of error in excess of the threshold due to theoretically unavoidable decoherence or some other limitation. If that's the case, the question would be proven.

benchmark (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927535)

benchmark

int i;
for (i=0;i1000000;i++)
    PrintF("%d\n",i);

I beat Windows and Linux by an order of magnitude.

A gazillion dollar prize (-1, Offtopic)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927537)

Prove there is a god

Re:A gazillion dollar prize (-1, Offtopic)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927691)

You must read the holy book believing, and you will feel it is the word of god! The rapes? The commands to murder? Nah, that are only metaphors, when you read it you will fell the true message of love, and therefore it can only be "His" writings.

Done, now give me my gazillion dollars please.

Re:A gazillion dollar prize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928029)

Do note that most, if not all, rapes in the bible are conducted by the designated "bad guys". It may not be family-friendly, but as far as that goes it's morally consistent without need for "metaphor" (actually, they usually say allegory) handwaving. The commands to genocide the natives -- well, that's a little harder for them to explain, but it's a great precedent when they "need" to go to war.

gazillion dollar counter prize (2, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927769)

Prove there is a god

... prove there isn't.

I'm willing to bet all I own that neither will ever be successfully claimed. You need faith to accept either to be met.

Re:gazillion dollar counter prize (1)

liamevo (1358257) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927879)

Prove there is no [insert any supernatural thing you feel like].

Re:gazillion dollar counter prize (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928221)

Fine. Prove there is no "total computable function that decides whether an arbitrary program i halts on arbitrary input x."

Done [wikipedia.org] , jackass.

Re:gazillion dollar counter prize (0)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928111)

Interesting statement

I would propose that God is proven in philosophy (impossibility of infinite regression...there has to be something that started everything...everything cannot have always existed as everything is in the constant state of slow decay).

There is recent proof with some forms of bacteria that find Darwin's "out clause" to be confirmed. (Darwin stated in his own theory that if it could be proven someday that there is some irreducible complexity of an organism, that his theory would fall apart. That has been found.)

There is the problem of the first cell being created. With recent understanding of the cell (which Darwin didn't have), we can see the complexity of a cell and all that is required for the first single cell to reproduce--most critical part being DNA, which is a complex programming code far better than anything we have today. Impossible for anyone to explain how a cell could have come together randomly and then divided itself the way all living cells do today.

When you take what we know today, the reason stands that there is something that has brought everything into existence with intelligence. You must now deny the evidence that there is God by providing it. There is proof that there is intelligent design behind everything.

Feel free to rant on your opinions.

Re:gazillion dollar counter prize (1)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928249)

Impossible for anyone to explain

Emphasis mine.

The God of the gaps is alive and well.

The Definition of "God" (1)

earls (1367951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928263)

We can only prove and disprove what we can measure. We need the definitions of the dimensions we wish to measure to prove or disprove something "exists" (can "be found"). The first definition I think is most important is whether or not said "god" can interact willfully with the universe and change what would otherwise be natural consequence. If it cannot, then god is of no consequence. If it can, then how can you reproducibly show the god's interaction? If someone cannot repeatedly find god for others, then god hasn't been found, because said god as defined ceases to exist until demonstrated!

Re:gazillion dollar counter prize (1)

stevelinton (4044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928351)

I can't resist.

If we take it as read from observation that there is only finitely much time before the present (there are theories otherwise, but more or less all of them have a special event of some kind about 13.7 billion years ago), why does this require "something that started everything"? Without a working theory of quantum gravity, we have to accept that the universe has a number of time-space singularities where GR breaks down -- one in every black hole and one at the Big Bang. This tells us that we need a decent theory of quantum gravity, but I don't see that it tells us anything else.

Early life on Earth is still poorly understood, owing to the lack of records, but the smart money seems to be on RNA forming in some kind of primordial soup that was able to duplicate itself from the ingredients in the soup. Once you have that you get a lot of copies of that RNA, and rather less rich soup. The copying is also probably pretty inaccurate, so you get some copies that are better at making copies of themselves from less rich soup, perhaps by doing it more indirectly -- making a protein that helps make more RNA which in turn makes more protein for instance, and so you slowly (and remember this took hundreds of millions of years) bootstrap towards something like a very primitive prokaryotic cell. The jump from RNA to DNA as the basic genome, is a big one, but RNA organisms could have made chunks of DNA for other purposes initially, and then gradually moved more and more of the key functions into the DNA.

Re:gazillion dollar counter prize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928381)

Your 'proof' is basically if we don't know how something works then God did it. It's a God of the gaps argument. Thousands of years ago your argument would have been We don't know where thunder comes from, therefore that proves that Thor exists

Re:gazillion dollar counter prize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928607)

Interesting statement

I would propose that God is proven in philosophy

One thing in philosophy is that there is never ever a satisfying prove to anything. That statement itself again is right and wrong.

Also, the big problem is that you have to define what "God" is. As Kant and many others said most god proves have not the right understanding of God. And again you jump into the philosophy of speech and on into to philosophical relativism.

And to return to this topic some say, especially in continental Europe, that empiricism is dead anyway.

Re:gazillion dollar counter prize (2)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928175)

Prove there is a god

... prove there isn't.

I'm willing to bet all I own that neither will ever be successfully claimed. You need faith to accept either to be met.

Well, proving that there are no gods at all is impossible, as "there exists some form of god" is an unfalsifiable claim.

However, proving that specific gods don't exist is a whole lot easier when they make outrageous claims that do not conform to the world that we witness today. For instance, if their holy book ascribes cities that have no archaeological evidence to suggest that they ever existed, or did not exist at the time described.

Re:gazillion dollar counter prize (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928277)

I'm willing to bet all I own that neither will ever be successfully claimed

I'll do you one better: If all the man-hours that have been wasted over the last 2000 years trying to "prove" or "disprove" the existence of "God" had been spent doing constructive, positive things on behalf of all Mankind, we might have abolished war, have an abundant, clean, renewable energy source, conquered all disease, and maybe even moved out to colonize other planets. Instead we sit on this increasingly smaller chunk of rock and water and contemplate our "spiritual" navels, and fire bullets and lob bombs at people who don't happen to agree with our own specific musings on the subject.

D-Wave sold a commercial Quantum computer in 2010 (5, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927545)

Err, uh,
 
Didn't D-Wave sell a commercial Quantum computer to Locheed Martin [hpcwire.com] in 2010? Almost a year to the day?
 
Someone explain to me the difference between this quantum computer and the one they're trying to prove doesn't exist, please.

Re:D-Wave sold a commercial Quantum computer in 20 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927627)

'I'm now offering a US$100,000 award for a demonstration, convincing to me, that scalable quantum computing is impossible in the physical world.' Notice the two important conditions — 'physical world' and 'scalable.'

Re:D-Wave sold a commercial Quantum computer in 20 (5, Informative)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927695)

D-Wave uses quantum annealing [wikipedia.org] . This works for minimization problems, although it's unclear whether it's better than "simulated annealing". This does not work for problems like factoring integers, which "real" quantum computers can do.

Re:D-Wave sold a commercial Quantum computer in 20 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927697)

Could be that D-wave's doesn't actually work.

Re:D-Wave sold a commercial Quantum computer in 20 (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927789)

From what my friend who is into Quantum computers tells me that was almost certainly a scam.

And even without knowing the specifics of quantum computers enough to have any opinion I know that one of the leading quantum computing places in the world, Waterloo Canada does not have a QC that is even close to being usable. It is just like a few quantum bits with a few rooms full of machinery that operates these bits and is both slow and has way to small a number of bits to really be useful.

Re:D-Wave sold a commercial Quantum computer in 20 (2)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927865)

It is just like a few quantum bits with a few rooms full of machinery that operates these bits and is both slow and has way to small a number of bits to really be useful.

I don't know Jack - sorry, I don't know Werner - about quantum computing, but you did just describe the state of regular computing circa 1946 or thereabouts.

Re:D-Wave sold a commercial Quantum computer in 20 (2)

pscottdv (676889) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928229)

I don't know Jack - sorry, I don't know Werner - about quantum computing, but you did just describe the state of regular computing circa 1946 or thereabouts.

The difference is that the way forward was clear in 1946. Scaling up was primarily a problem of cooling and maintenance. In other words, engineering problems, not theoretical ones.

The area of quantum computing today is nowhere near on par with where we were with classical computing in 1946.

Re:D-Wave sold a commercial Quantum computer in 20 (3, Insightful)

harperska (1376103) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928313)

When the status quo was a room full of vacuum tubes, I doubt that the way forward (solid state transistors) was as clear as you suggest. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that. There is a vast world of difference between making smaller, faster, better vacuum tubes, and making a transistor. So I think GP's suggestion that we are in the vacuum tube era of quantum computing is reasonable, and we are waiting on the equivalent of a quantum transistor to make quantum computing feasible.

You owe me... (2)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928099)

a new BS meter for posting that link, which features the following gem among many others:

HPCwire: Can you prove that quantum computing is actually taking place?
Rose: This was the question we set out to prove with the research published in the recent edition of Nature. The answer was a conclusive "yes."


And this is the clincher:

HPCwire: What's next?
Rose: This is a very significant time in the history of D-Wave. We've sold the world's first commercial quantum computer to a large global security company, Lockheed Martin.

Re:D-Wave sold a commercial Quantum computer in 20 (1, Interesting)

qbitslayer (2567421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928405)

D-Wave is selling snake oil [blogspot.com] . Their so-called quantum computer is pure hogwash. The main reason that quantum computing is nonsense is that it is based on the pseudo-scientific concept of quantum state superposition. The problem is, superposition is not observable by definition. It is just a silly interpretation of QM. Superposition is nonsense on the face of it since any child can tell you that nothing can be its own opposite. Physicists do not understand why quantum interactions are probabilistic and yet they feel knowledgeable enough to conjure up all sorts of cockamamie Star-Trek physics that make no sense. The actual reason that quantum interactions are probabilistic is that there is no such thing as a time dimension. Therefore, nature cannot calculate the exact timing of interactions and is forced to use probability. Conservation laws are momentarily violated but are obeyed in the long run. Why is there no time dimension? Because a time dimension makes motion impossible. Surprise! This is the reason that time travel is crackpottery and that Sir Karl Popper compared Einstein to Parmenides and called spacetime, "Einstein's block universe in which nothing happens". From Science: Conjectures and Refutations [calpoly.edu] . Don't take my word for it.

Re:D-Wave sold a commercial Quantum computer in 20 (4, Interesting)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928421)

The physics of oscillating crystals, such as those used in microphones and phonograph needles as well as radio transmitters, indicates that quantum computing could never not exist. Matched oscillating crystals have been in use for thousands of years and the mathematical model is proven by hundreds of different laboratory and home appliances; eg. an infrared spectrophotometric detector. The emission and absorption frequencies predicted by the mathematical model of the particle [wikipedia.org] in a box (the basis for calculating electron dispersion around the nucleus and the fundamental beginning for subatomic calculations).

Particle in a box model translates into equations known as the Hamiltonian and, in combination with Eigenvalues calculated from the variables used in particle in a box modeling, generates the Schroedinger equation. Quantum computing could never be nonexistent because the mathematics of matched oscillating subatomic particles already has been proven millions of times over.

The marathon runner was not reporting a successful war campaign. The marathon runner was part of a system proving that those crystals do indeed oscillate, matched, from across the universe (at least 26.2 miles), in real time. Begin counting, begin running, when you arrive, repeat what they said back to them and report your current number. They will determine if your number matches theirs and if you repeat the exact words they said.

One aspect of the inside joke is that, when the marathon runner arrived and made his report, the response from the priests was,"That's _NOT_ what we said!" and they promptly hit him over the head with a baseball bat in frustration over the not completely failed experiment. "Don't tell anyone that he made it."

The ultimate Schroedinger's Cat problem! (2, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927557)

Now there's a challenge!

Prove that something which already exists CAN'T exist!

Methinks their money might be safe on this one... :P :P :P

Re:The ultimate Schroedinger's Cat problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927587)

But by measuring if it can exist, it will change its state. P=!P ARGH brain melt!

Re:The ultimate Schroedinger's Cat problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927961)

Quantum computers most certainly do not exist, at least not as a general computer. Quantum computers today exists only as specialized machines (can't compute anything but only special problems) or as "toy" proof of concepts which still have major hurdles to overcome. Basically, the question is, "Can you prove that quantum computers won't be able to replace current general computers especially those of super computers and Beowulf clusters in the future?"

Re:The ultimate Schroedinger's Cat problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928079)

Prove man is NOT responsible for Global Warming.

WTF is it with Science these days where it wants people to prove a negative, something which I was explicitly told over and over again in class is impossible.

Re:The ultimate Schroedinger's Cat problem! (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928137)

Prove man is NOT responsible for Global Warming.

WTF is it with Science these days where it wants people to prove a negative, something which I was explicitly told over and over again in class is impossible.

Except that we've proven that Caloric Theory does not accurately explain reality.

"Proving a negative" is a complicated topic, but falsifying a theory is not. In order to claim the reward specified, one would have to prove that the quantum theory as we understand it is false, by demonstrating a falsifying experiment. I don't know if that's particularly possible...

Re:The ultimate Schroedinger's Cat problem! (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928235)

Proving a negative is not impossible. For example, I can proof that I didn't murder JFK by just noting that I wasn't yet born when he got killed.

Re:The ultimate Schroedinger's Cat problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928427)

Just need to prove time travel imposible, prove precognition impossible (you could be colludng with a precog in the past to take care of him in his old age), prove you're not god (or god-like) and you'll be all set...

Re:The ultimate Schroedinger's Cat problem! (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928317)

What they should be asking is "Prove that something other than Man is responsible for global warming"

The jokes on them (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927577)

I will prove Quantum Computers both possible AND impossible at the SAME TIME!

Re:The jokes on them (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928261)

Yeah, and you'll both get and not get the money at the same time. However don't complain if you find out that you didn't get it: It was you looking which caused the superposition to collapse into that state.

You can't prove a negative (5, Funny)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927593)

So I guess the proof would be that they do exist, but only if you don't observe one.

Re:You can't prove a negative (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927653)

Sure you can prove a negative; just show that the positive is absurd.

Re:You can't prove a negative (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927701)

Absurd things happen all the time. Perhaps you mean "impossible"?

Re:You can't prove a negative (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927779)

No, it's pretty obvious he means absurd. Perhaps you meant to buy a dictionary?

Re:You can't prove a negative (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927941)

'You can't prove a negative'

If that were true, it would be unprovable. But, anyway, it's not true. Some of the most important (and proven) results in 20th century mathematics were negative: Goedel's proof that arithmetic is INcomplete, Church's proof that polyadic first-order logic is UNdecidable, Tarski's proof that truth is UNdefinable, Cohen's proof that the continuum hypothesis is UNprovable in ZFC, etc.

Re:You can't prove a negative (1)

Hodapp (1175021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928013)

Nothing is inherent in negatives that makes them unprovable. Please quit repeating this.

Re:You can't prove a negative (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928379)

This is not quite true. This notion of not being able to prove a negative comes from second order logic. A statement can be either universally quantified ("every X satisfies ...") or existentially ("there is an X satisfying ..."). "What about a negation of these?", you might ask. Well, a negation of a universally quantified statement is an existentially quantified one (and vice versa). It's impossible to prove a universal claim (how can you check EVERY of something?). OTOH, you can find one thing, and show that it DOES have some property (that is: existentially quantified). So really, what they should say is that universally quantified claims are unprovable (and they are negations of existentially quantified claims).

Re:You can't prove a negative (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928579)

This whole thing strikes me as if a Christian would put up $ for someone to prove to him that God doesn't exist with said Christian as both judge and also having no real incentive to part with the $.

Theoretical vs practical (1)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927689)

Yesyes...maybe Lockheed bought a quantum computer. It's real? I don't see why not. I can imagine you can program existing hardware to simulate the quantum effect. Does it mean that you get a quantum computer - no...but it simulates it, so in effect...you have one, expensive - not sure how useful, but it'll prove some working theory.

It's like a double douche - here's one, the other proves the existence of the first one. It's like perpetual energy theory, there will always be believers, and if you make it complex enough, no one will dare to prove them wrong, even though we never ever see the practical use of it.

My guess it's the same with the Quantum Computer. If ya catch my drift ;)

I guess ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927705)

.. we've gone from the objective exists | ~exists question to the subjective one of doing "any useful work".

Even my brother-in-law can do useful work if you stretch the definition far enough.

FACT: YOU WILL NEVER STOP CRIME !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927725)

So let it florish. Let it infest your neighborhood. Your city. Your state. Your country (sorry Russia, too late). Don't bother with stopping crime, BECAUSE YOU CAN'T !! Cops ?? Why ?? Who needs them !! Who needs any sort of 'theft' prevention when we all just want what we can get, so why not just let us have it !!

Brought to you by your friends soon to be released because we don't really belong in prison !! And thanks for your support ... SUCKERS !! I mean, fellow citizens !!

Re:FACT: YOU WILL NEVER STOP CRIME !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928063)

Fact: We will never stop /.ers from posting in the wrong fucking story.

Sorry, what? (4, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927805)

A similar question could've been asked years ago, back when transistors didn't exist: 'I'm now offering a US$100,000 award for a demonstration, convincing to me, that scalable personal computing is impossible in the physical world.'

Using only technology available then, the answer would've to scale down tubes to the minimal size and go "well this computer's too weak to do anything useful, ergo it's impossible to have a personal computer that isn't just a toy computer." Then transistors happened.

These kinds of things are stupid, because you're asking for a demonstration to an engineering problem, when engineering is always capped by scientific research. You could have a perfectly "convincing" proof today and tomorrow a new discovery crumbles it all to the ground.

Unless a theoretical and fundamental proof can be made that quantum computing is impossible, there's no reason to say that it is, and I have serious doubts such a proof can be made considering what has been accomplished thus far. Current limitations are engineering issues, but nothing fundamental is stopping a useful and practical quantum computer from existing.

Re:Sorry, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928065)

Well, I'm going to go ahead and disagree with the summary and say that the most important condition is "convincing to me." In that sense, it may be very easy indeed to find a 'proof.'

Re:Sorry, what? (2)

pscottdv (676889) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928295)

Unless a theoretical and fundamental proof can be made that quantum computing is impossible, there's no reason to say that it is, and I have serious doubts such a proof can be made considering what has been accomplished thus far. Current limitations are engineering issues, but nothing fundamental is stopping a useful and practical quantum computer from existing.

I think the whole area of what causes quantum behavior to disappear as systems scale up to macroscopic size is not well understood at all. A fundamental proof that large-scale quantum computing is not possible would be monumental in improving our understanding this area.

Re:Sorry, what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928503)

A similar question could've been asked years ago, back when transistors didn't exist

No it couldn't, because practical computers made with valves existed (not just a few flip-flops and registers, which is the equivalent of QC today).

You could have a perfectly "convincing" proof today and tomorrow a new discovery crumbles it all to the ground.

Or, you could have a perfectly good idea of how to surmount the engineering problems today, and a new scientific discovery tomorrow proves it impossible. Like perpetual motion machines, for instance. We're looking for something like this.

Unless a theoretical and fundamental proof can be made that quantum computing is impossible ... which is what is being asked for ...

I have serious doubts such a proof can be made considering what has been accomplished thus far.

The question is, once you factor in the cost of managing N qubits to do work item P, would it have been easier just to run the program on a classical computer? What has been accomplished so far is nowhere near to becoming viable in this sense. Does a practical quantum computer exceed 100% "computational efficiency" compared to a classical computer, or is there a "second law of thermodynamics" which says it cannot. That is the question.

Current limitations are engineering issues, but nothing fundamental is stopping a useful and practical quantum computer from existing.

Wishful thinking! The idea of the $100,000 prize is to encourage more skepticism, not less.

Got your proof right here (1)

MindPhlux (304416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927807)

{straightface, dead glare} They're impossible because they don't exist. {/straightface}

Quantum Mechanics (1, Funny)

pacija (2566467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38927869)

I know a man (my father actually) who wrote (unreleased) book in Serbian in which he claims (and proves with numbers) that Quantum Mechanics and Theory of Relativity are mostly untrue.

Re:Quantum Mechanics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927973)

How does your GPS work then?

Re:Quantum Mechanics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928081)

How does your GPS work then?

Just because Newton's Laws weren't completely correct didn't make cannon balls not follow a parabolic trajectory.

Re:Quantum Mechanics (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928549)

Einstein forces t (time) to be variable because he chose to make c (speed of light) constant. Why is vice-versa not true? If you calibrate a clock (on the surface of earth) to the speed of light on this gravity well, then send it up into space, then the clock will be wrong. Not because time is variable in the two locations, but because the speed of light is not constant in both locations. If you instead calibrate the clocks to something external to the two systems (like a remote spinning neutron star), then your clocks will stay in sync whether located on earth or in a GPS satellite in space.

Or are you really telling me that an observer in space (GPS satellite) SHOULD see a remote neutron star spinning at a different rate than an observer on the surface of earth? If you are saying that, then obviously someone has a broken (uncalibrated) clock, because the spinning neutron hasn't changed at all, and especially doesn't change its spin rate based on where the observer happens to be located.

Re:Quantum Mechanics (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38928191)

I know a man who wrote a book in Croatian in which he proves that your dad is wrong.

My anecdote beats your anecdote!

Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38927991)

Sounds like a scam. We might as well try convincing him that God is impossible.

the answer is right in front of us (2)

alienzed (732782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928149)

Isn't the human brain a quantum computer? Isn't that proof enough that it doesn't work?

I know what this is... (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928159)

...and no, it 'in't 'cos I'm a black man. This is a CS guy looking for potential problems in QC to solve before a mature solution can be even considered ready for promotion from drawing board to prototyping - 'cos once you go physical shit gets expensive.

How about a reverse ontological proof? (1)

Ardeaem (625311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928307)

1. Human imagination imagines beyond what is possible.
2. I cannot imagine a quantum computer.
3. Therefore, quantum computing is further beyond what is possible than my imagination.
4. By (1), quantum computing is beyond the possible.


At least it's valid. If you give me half the money, I can work out rest of the kinks.

bad grammar in the article (1)

harperska (1376103) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928357)

Maybe it's just me, but I had a hard time accepting the credibility of TFA when it misused "effects"/"affects".

I'm suspicious of Quantum Computers (1)

Richy_T (111409) | more than 2 years ago | (#38928399)

The idea is nice but it seems like you're trying to get something for nothing which generally doesn't tend to work out in the real world. This prize is probably a good idea to take a look at things from the other end rather than just trying to scale up small-scale experiments (and continually failing if it's genuinely not possible).

I'd love to be wrong in this case but it seems possible it's something that's in the realm of perpetual motion, FTL travel and anti-gravity to my mind.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...