But as Deepak Chopra taught us…

The Quantum word has been abused by all sorts of new age movements.

Quantum Healing. Quantum Psychology. Quantum Love.

Nobody explains this phenomenon better than Professor Farnsworth from Futurama.


But as Deepak Chopra taught us, quantum physics means that anything can happen at anytime and for no reason. Also, eat plenty of oatmeal, and animals never had a war! Who is the real animal?
-Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth

Imagine a molecule. Now Imagine a quantum computer solving it.

A quantum circuit, a molecular spectra, a molecule: will they ever have a threesome?
A quantum circuit, a molecular spectra, a molecule: will they ever have a threesome?

So, we have the periodic table. We know that atoms combine into molecules depending on their energy spectrum, its energy levels. We know quantum physics, the theory that reigns in the atomic regime.We know math. We know quite a lot, actually.

So, we want to create new chemicals. Having new materials would give us new technologies, having new molecules would provide us with new medicines, saving millions of lives.

How come it is so hard to use what we know to get what we want?

The problem is that atoms have many electrons, and you have to calculate the equations for each electron. But, electrons interact with other, the solution of the equations of one depend on the solutions of the equations of the other. The solutions are interconnected, coupled. This is know as the many body problem. This makes solving the equations very hard.

Although we know what to do to calculate the energy of a complicated molecule, we can’t actually do it. It takes too long, even for a computer. Computers get faster every year, but they don’t get fast fast enough for the problem. Making the molecule just a bit more complicated demands us to have a computer much much much more powerful than for one a bit simpler. In other words, the problem of solving the energy of a molecule doesn’t “scale” well.

Enter quantum computers.

Unlike a conventional computer, Aspuru-Guzik and his colleagues say, a quantum computer could complete the steps necessary to simulate a chemical reaction in a time that doesn’t increase exponentially with the reaction’s complexity.

What is a quantum computer? How is it different from other computers? What tricks can it do to solve chemical reactions faster than a normal computer?

This blog is about those questions and more. Stay tuned.

A fishy affair

The nobel laurate in physics, extreme weirdo, inventor of the delta function ($$delta$$) and my own personal hero Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac was presented with the following puzzle:

Three fishermen come back from the sea, celebrating the catch of the day.  They land their boat and set up camp. After much drinking (rum?), each collapses in their respective tent. Fisherman #1 wakes up and, after relieving himself, decides to get his share of the catch. He counts the fish, realizes it is not a number divisible by three, throws away one fish to the sea correcting the situation, and takes a third of the remaining fish into his tent. Fisherman #2 wakes up later, goes to pee too, and also decides he is going to get his share of the catch. Unaware that Fisherman #1 already took his part, Fisherman #2 wants a third of the fish he sees. It is not a multiple of three, but he throws away one fish and takes a third of the fish and goes to sleep. Fisherman #3 wakes up after, and does the same: he throws away one fish, takes a third of the fish, and goes into his tent.

What is the smallest number of fish for which this would happen?

I’m not going to spoil the puzzle by revealing the regular answer, but I can tell you Dirac’s answer.  A weird answer, but correct nevertheless.

Dirac prefered to sleep on his left side.
Dirac prefered to sleep on his left side.

Dirac’s answer was minus two fish.