BookReview: Programming the Universe

by admin

Programming the Universe

Book by Seth Lloyd, about quantum physics and cosmology

We all know that the universe is made up of matter and energy, but Seth Lloyd, a quantum physicist at MIT, adds a third basic element to our understanding: information. Everything, he says, can be considered as registering information (or bits): hot/cold, heavy/light, white/black, spin up, spin down can all be considered the 0s and 1s of a binary information system, the same system we have build computing upon. Interactions between things (people, atoms, electrons) results in exchange of information. With all these bits, the universe is, as we speak, computing. Computing what? Why, itself, of course. And at the quantum level, the famous quantum wierdness (uncertainty principle, wave/particle duality, Schrodeinger’s cat) means that if you could build quantum computer, it’s parallel nature would mean computing power far beyond anything classical computers can provide. Lloyd has actually built a quantum computer (a simple one), and continues his work.

He has also written an important book, which is at once mind-bending and accessible. He is patient and clear (and funny), and this slim text presents a revolutionary interpretation of the cosmsos, which Lloyd thinks might provide a pathway to solving the great challenege of modern physics: uniting the theory of general relativity and quantum physics, which don’t get along. It might also prove a (testable) theoretical underpinning for the creation of life.

My rating: 5.0 stars

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