Computing with Quantum Cats: From Colossus to Qubits
by John Gribbin
Prometheus Books, 2014 ($28.95)

“Within a decade the computer world will be turned upside down” by quantum computers, predicts science journalist Gribbin in Computing with Quantum Cats. Today such devices can solve only simple problems and face significant technological challenges. But Gribbin and other proponents of the field see a bright future for machines that are based on the principles of quantum mechanics, particularly the spooky ability of particles to be in multiple states at the same time. These computers should be able to perform calculations many times faster than conventional computers do—if the bugs can be worked out. Gribbin entertainingly illustrates the history of computers, the great minds who have contributed to the field, and what may be in store if quantum computers can fulfill their promise. At the top of the list is cryptography, which stands to be revolutionized if quantum computing can deliver the ability to crack previously unbreakable codes.