This is an article in which I plan to describe quantum-based computers and their application for defeating public-key crypto. Lets begine by describing basic quantum principle. Particles work in funny ways. It's believed that anything at the atomic scale obeys the laws of a very different type of physics then we normally see: quantum physics. Unlike classical physics, quantum physics deals with information and probability instead of physical forces interacting. For quantum-based computers all we really care about are particles in superposition, quantum entanglement, and quantum interference.
PARTICLES IN SUPERPOSITION
A particle can have at least two different states, spin-up and spin-down(or 1 and 0). That's all we care about right now. Logically, one would think that a particle with two states is either in one or the other. That isn't so. Under quantum physics a particle is in both (oe all possible states, given it's location) at the same time. That is, until the particle is observed, it's neither spin-up or spin-down but both.
QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT AND NON-PHYSICAL COMMUNICATION.
Quantum entanglement is when two interacting particles are in superposition. Schrodinger's car is a good example. Say we have a particle in a chamber that either decays or does not. In that chamber there's a geiger counter that's hooked up to a device that releases a poison gas into another chamber that contains a cat. Since both the particle and the cat are in chambers we cannot see them. We cannot observe the particle to see whether is has decayed or not, and we can't see the cat to reason what ahppened to the particle. The cat, the particle, the geiger counter, and the poisen releasing device are said to be in superpositional entanglement (or quantum entanglement). Only until we observe the cat, the reality where it dies fromthe poisen gas or the reality where it is still alive is our own. Any time before we observe things, the cat is both alive and dead. Although this example may not be too likely on account of the size of the cat and all, particles can become entangled in this way. In fact, particles can become entangled in such a way as to allow non-physical communication. Once in superpositional entanglement particles remain that way until observed, even if they move miles apart. Say that we have two particles at 10:00pm in superposition. At 10:10pm we put both of them into a device where they are XORed(remember: spin-down=0, spin-up=1) so that the particles come out of the device as both 0 or both 1, or rather since they're in superposition they're both 0 and 1 at the same time. Now we move them (in special containers that isolate them completely) to two labs: Alice's lab and Bob's lab. They both get their particles at 11:00pm. Alice puts her particle into a devicethat changes it to a 1 without observing it(e.g. laser-cooling ion trap). Bob sits still and does nothing. At exactly 11:10.29pm Bob and Alice observe the state of their particles. They're both 1! What this means is Alice communicateda 1 to Bob non-physically. Since their particles were in superpositional entanglement until they both observed them at 11:10.29pm, one affected the other's probability of being 1 when Alice put hers into her device.
This is a LONG article, and it is not even halfway finished. I will most likely not post the rest of it here. It is a partial reprint of the article computing with the fabric of reality in 2600 Magazine 18:1, Spring of 2001. You can order a backissue and read the whole article if you wish to understand more or do a search on the web.
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