Books : reviews

Paul C. W. Davies, Julian R. Brown, eds.
Superstrings: a Theory of Everything?.
CUP. 1988


John Schwarz. Superstrings, chapter 2. 1988
Edward Witten. Superstrings, chapter 3. 1988
Michael B. Green. Superstrings, chapter 4. 1988
David Gross. Superstrings, chapter 5. 1988
John Ellis. Superstrings, chapter 6. 1988
Abdus Salam. Superstrings, chapter 7. 1988
Sheldon Glashow. Superstrings, chapter 8. 1988
Richard P. Feynman. Superstrings, chapter 9. 1988
Steven Weinberg. Superstrings, chapter 10. 1988

Julian R. Brown.
The Quest for the Quantum Computer (== Minds, Machines, and the Multiverse) .
Touchstone. 2000

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 28 February 2008

Taking readers to the cutting edge of physics, mathematics, and computer science, Julian Brown tells the dramatic story of the ground-breaking efforts to create a fundamentally new kind of computer that would be astronomically more powerful than today’s machines. In 1998, a team of researchers announced they had produced the world’s first quantum computer in a cup of chloroform. In fascinating, fully accessible detail, Brown explains the ideas that led up to this accomplishment and explores the mind-stretching implications of this leap into the bizarre world of quantum physics. The Quest for the Quantum Computer is a riveting look at what promises to be one of the most important scientific and technological ideas of the twenty-first century.

Brown leads us on a fascinating tour of quantum computing, from the background physics, up to the state of the art technology as it was in 2000. He explains lucidly, and in depth: in the first chapter alone we get a description of the differences between superposition, entanglement, and interference. He covers quantum algorithms, quantum communications, and physical implementations. He leavens his explanations with little vignettes of the scientists involved, but he concentrates on the physics for the most part. Even in the last chapter, where he covers some of the wilder and wackier ideas (from Penrose to Tipler) he is remarkably even-handed.

This is a jolly good read, if by now a little out of date on the implementation side. Time for a second edition, maybe?