Quantum Thoughts

Archive for January 2010

Recently Zurek, a well know physicist, famous about his out of the box approaches, published a paper on natural selection based on quantum computation principles. It’s main claim is that it explains the quantum-classical transition: why macroscopic physics obeys classical rules while the quantum world obeys the seemingly weird laws of quantum mechanics. That makes it a Big Idea.

So how does it work? Zurek’s way into this problem is to think about
the role of the environment in quantum mechanics. For other quantum
physicists, the environment has never been anything more than a
nuisance. Consider a quantum object in isolation and the quantum
information it contains can survive forever. But place it in the real
world and this quantum information leaks into the environment,
destroying the system under study.

Zurek takes different view. He thinks of the environment as an
information channel and the properties of this channel are the key to
understanding quantum Darwinism.

All macroscopic measuring machines get their information through
this channel. For example, at this very moment you are intercepting a
fraction of the photons emitted by a screen. But we can never observe
all of the environment, only a small fraction of it which reveal
systems of interest.

This is the essence of quantum Darwinism, says Zurek. Only quantum
states that can be transmitted through the environment in the right
kind of way and with multiple copies, can be observed on the
macroscopic scale. That rules out various kinds of quantum information.
What’s left are what Zurek calls “pointer states”. These are what we
observe classically.

This complies with Campbell’s approach on non linear natural selection. All these quantum computational aspects will proportionally start to affect many areas of your modern understanding of nature. Do not forget that nature’s game of play is laws of physics and in the microscopic world or in thermal noise free environments nature is actually a quantum computer and state superposition can easily result to exponential large calculation with just a single gate level step!! Other studies about quantum brain and neuron microtubes, are rather bulk approaches since they do not take into account the brains thermal background. Environment is a noisy quantum channel with infinite degrees of freedom and strongly non diagonal density matrix, so often destroys quantum nature by simulating measurement operators and collapsing the wave-function! Nevertheless though, we are just now starting to understand how quantum information can be preserved even in noisy channels, knowledge that can dramatically change the way we understand both nature and ourselves.
[via and the arxiv paper]

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