Shtetl of the Times

I forgot to link to Sunday's New York Times article about D-Wave and their controversial claim to have made a working quantum computer, which prominently features quotes from the world's second funniest physics blogger:

Scott Aaronson, a theoretical computer scientist at the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo in Canada, fired the first shot. He wrote in his much-read blog, called "Shtetl-Optimized," that Orion would be as useful at problem-solving as "a roast beef sandwich." In an e-mail message to me, Dr. Aaronson denounced Orion as "hype." He said that he could not "think of any interpretation under which" Dr. Rose was "telling the truth."

Weirdly, this is in the business section. Anyway, Scott has more on his blog, if you want to know more about the whole sordid affair.


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One is reminded of DNA computers. Set up the problem, let it run with insanely huge parallel throughput, see what you mostly obtain - that's the answer. It was awesomely fast on paper.

One did however need about a mole of DNA oligomers. If it were table salt that's about 58 grams. In the DNA case it was around 50 kg. Nasty - and with viscosity issues demanding olympic swimming pool dilution... that exponentially slowed down processing.

Just scanned your post real quick, and when I saw the phrase 'Orion would be as useful at problem-solving as "a roast beef sandwich."', I instantly thought of all sort of problems a super-massive spacecraft with nuclear explosions as propulsion could solve.

So, wrong Orion there.

By Kurt Montandon (not verified) on 10 Apr 2007 #permalink

New York Times, April 1, 2008:

Roast Beef Sandwich Computer: DNA-based Quantum Computer In 2nd Round Venture Capital

After dazzling NASA with a demonstration that solved the Dark Energy-Dark Matter-Dark Entropy equations to 22 decimal points accuracy, the start-up demonstrated their prototype Roast Beef Sandwich Computer capabilities further.

It successfully applied hybrid DNA-Quantum computing technology to dazzling speeds in a set of benchmark tests:

(1) The 5-dimensional Sudoku Puzzle;
(2) computing human brain tomography based on horseradish peroxidase-stained neuron photographs;
(3) automated theorem proving of Geometry's Ham Sandwich Theorem;
(4) Retrodiction of the "Pick a Number Win a Book" conundrum;
(5) Using Twistor Theory to determine the plotline of Bon Dylan's "Tangled up in Blue";
(6) Predicting the NCAA College Baketball rankings based on Gatorade extrapolation metrics;
(7) Using the Reagan Institute Trickle-down Econometric model to prove that there is a way out of Iraq, but it is not Godel-decidable;
(8) Spoofing the Google page-index algorithm to boost Scienceblogs to the #1 ranking in the world.

"This one doesn't look like hype," said Scott Aaronson, a theoretical computer scientist at the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo in Canada. "Previous Quantum Computer demos were suspect, based on the Penrose-Conway-Turing Loop Quantum Gravity surreal-number matrices."

"Let's see them top this in Bangalore" said a grizzled Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist.

But will it work with my Steorn power supply?