May 4, 2023

Quantum Supremacy

Posted by in categories: computing, cosmology, quantum physics

We’re hearing this week from two very different parts of the string theory community that quantum supremacy (quantum computers doing better than classical computers) is the answer to the challenges the subject has faced.

New Scientist has an article Quantum computers could simulate a black hole in the next decade which tells us that “Understanding the interactions between quantum physics and gravity within a black hole is one of the thorniest problems in physics, but quantum computers could soon offer an answer.” The article is about this preprint from Juan Maldacena which discusses numerical simulations in a version of the BFSS matrix model, a 1996 proposal for a definition of M-theory that never worked out. Maldacena points to this recent Monte-Carlo calculation, which claims to get results consistent with expectations from duality with supergravity.

Maldacena’s proposal is basically for a variant of the wormhole publicity stunt: he argues that if you have a large enough quantum computer, you can do a better calculation than the recent Monte-Carlo. In principle you could look for quasi-normal modes in the data, and then you would have created not a wormhole but a black hole and be doing “quantum gravity in the laboratory”.

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