Grinch
Member Elite
since 12312005
Posts 2710
Whoville

4 posted 08012010 09:24 PM
 
quote: Still don't know what the heck it means
I just read my post over a few times too and was worried that you might say that.
Let’s try sticking to the difference between a bit and a qubit.
Remember those old westerns where the guy in the telegraph office tapped out a message using morse code? Each series of dots and dashes represented a leter, right? Now suppose each series of dots and dashes represented a word, how much quicker would sending a message be if that were true?
Of course if that were true the messages you could send would be pretty restricted because the number of words you could send is restricted by the available patterns of dots and dashes. You could extend the number of possible messages by making each series of dots and dashes equal a whole message instead of a word, but you’d still be restricted by the number of combinations available. It turns out that the best way to maximise the possible messages you can send is to have each series of dots and dashes represent a letter.
That’s basically how bytes work, 8 bits either zero or one (a dot or a dash in telegraph terms)that can represent a maximum of 256 characters.
Enter the qubit. Instead of being a dot or a dash a qubit can be a whole slew of variants between a dot and a dash, in telegraph terms it’d be like having the ability to have multiple types of dots and dashes, maybe a difference in pitch perhaps. Increasing the possible combinations opens up the possibility of representing words, given enough combinations you could even cover almost every possible message with a short combination of dots and dashes at various pitches.
The more combinations you have the less dots and dashes you need and the quicker the message can be sent. Qubits allow more combinations so qubits are better than bits.
So what does a bit and a qubit look like?
A bit is the equivalent of a coin, it’s either heads or tails. A qubit is the equivalent of a sphere with the heads and tails of the coin printed on the surface.
Flip a coin and the chances are that taking a photograph from directly above will show a circle with either the image of the head or the tail side. Flip a sphere and take a photo from above and it’ll be a circle with an image of the head or tail, or some of the head and a portion of tail, or half heads and half tails, or a quarter heads and three quarter tails, the tails part could be at the top of the circle, or the bottom, or on the left or the right, slightly up from the middle, the head could be upside down or on a three quarter twist…
You get the idea – the combinations are astronomical
Back to the article:
They’ve taken an atom and paired it with a photon, the photon and atom will orbit in a circular pattern, take a photo from the top and you’re get a circle with the photon at the top, or at the bottom, or directly behind the atom or..
You get the idea – it’s a qubit.
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