This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Share this

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – brightrecruits.com can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today

Blog

The measurement problem in physics

By Hamish Johnston

This morning on BBC Radio 4, the mathematician Roger Penrose, physicist Basil Hiley, and philosopher Simon Saunders had a lively discussion about the “measurement problem in physics” with broadcaster Melvyn Bragg.

You can listen to it here

I got to thinking that the growing interest in building quantum computers and other information systems has put a practical spin on the measurement problem.

The “problem” the open question of how (or even if) a measurement transforms an entity such as an electron from being a ghostly combination of quantum states to being very definitely in just one state.

Many physicists believe that the clever manipulation of such ghostly combinations could be done in quantum computers, allowing such machines to outperform conventional computers on some tasks.

Such quantum computers would rely on making the right measurements — and avoiding the wrong measurements — so what had been mostly a philosophical/mathematical debate about measurement has a growing technological relevance.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

2 comments

  1. Starfart

    I will say this much: I for one do NOT happen to care a flying gob of SPIT beyond my regular and steady allegiance to technological progress, over whether there may happen to be an application of whatever is discerned by the currently fashionable investigations of ‘quantum computing’. Technology is NOT the same thing as science, and I shouldn’t have to remind anybody that technology never once EVER supplied a reciprocal input back into a genuinely scienftific understanding of the PHYSICS involved. I frankly do not care whether (so far) half-baked ideas or observations MAY be applicable to computer technology or amenable to any other technological application.
    Not only is this avenue physically uninteresting, it is as boring as listening to string theorists proclaiming they’ve got all the answers. Is the subject of quantum mechanics to be continuously swamped by the constant allusion to its potential applications? I unhestatingly admit these potential applications are almost certain, eventually, but that isn’t the point! TECHNOLOGICAL APPLICATION ISN’T THE POINT for a forum that claims PHYSICS as its domain!
    Wouldn’t this approach be better served by something called “TechnologyWorld” rather than “PhysicsWorld”? Why do we have to read dribble that any subscriber already appreciates? Why can’t we get – just HALF the time at least – a decent and in-depth accounting of the actual state of affairs in terms of both theory as well as experiment? Where are the articles that furnish an in-depth treatment complete with sufficient technical background? WHERE?
    If not, I would warn that you may soon have to change your name to “NewPhysicsWorld” – in the footsteps of that illustrious rag that has already done much to turn the communication of science into a near farce. Watch out. It could get awful tricky if you let the so-called ‘bottom line’ overtake your whole reason for being.

  2. jjeherrera

    I think the note answers by itself the relevance of the interaction between science and technology. What used to be “gendankenexperiment” are becoming “realexperiment” thanks to new technologies, and this is of great value to the advancement of physics, not just technology.

Leave a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Guidelines

  • Comments should be relevant to the article and not be used to promote your own work, products or services.
  • Please keep your comments brief (we recommend a maximum of 250 words).
  • We reserve the right to remove excessively long, inappropriate or offensive entries.

Show/hide formatting guidelines

Tag Description Example Output
<a> Hyperlink <a href="http://www.google.com">google</a> google
<abbr> Abbreviation <abbr title="World Health Organisation" >WHO</abbr> WHO
<acronym> Acronym <acronym title="as soon as possible">ASAP</acronym> ASAP
<b> Bold <b>Some text</b> Some text
<blockquote> Quoted from another source <blockquote cite="http://iop.org/">IOP</blockquote>
IOP
<cite> Cite <cite>Diagram 1</cite> Diagram 1
<del> Deleted text From this line<del datetime="2012-12-17"> this text was deleted</del> From this line this text was deleted
<em> Emphasized text In this line<em> this text was emphasised</em> In this line this text was emphasised
<i> Italic <i>Some text</i> Some text
<q> Quotation WWF goal is to build a future <q cite="http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/index.html">
where people live in harmony with nature and animals</q>
WWF goal is to build a future
where people live in harmony with nature and animals
<strike> Strike text <strike>Some text</strike> Some text
<strong> Stronger emphasis of text <strong>Some text</strong> Some text
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux