The newest Pentium chip powering PCs and laptops contains 40 million electronic switches packed onto a piece of silicon about the size of a thumbnail. Several years from now, if this incredible shrinking continues, a single chip will hold a billion switches, then a trillion. The logical culmination is a computer in which the switches are so tiny that each consists of an individual atom. At that point something miraculous happens: quantum mechanics kicks in.
Anyone who follows the science news or watches 'Star Trek' has at least a notion of what that means: particles that can be in two or more places at once, that can seem one moment like hard little specks of matter and the next like waves. Atoms obey a peculiar logic of their own - and if it can be harnessed society will be transformed. Problems that would now take forever even on a super-computer would be solved almost instantly. Quantum computing promises nothing less than a shortcut through time.
In this brief and totally absorbing book, we are brought to the front of one of the most engaging and far-reaching scientific dramas of this new century. The ticket for admission is a rough feel for a few basic ideas, and a willingness to suspend disbelief.