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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: April 2011

9 - Quantum information theory – an introduction

Summary

The rapid rise of quantum information

For the last four chapters I have been describing what may be called the ‘fundamental’ or ‘foundational’ aspects of quantum theory. I have been explaining what happens when you penetrate deeper into the ideas of quantum theory than when you merely make use of it, when you try to understand its basic meaning and what, if true, it tells us about the physical nature of the Universe.

As I said in Chapter 5, once Bohr had given his approach to these matters in his Como paper of 1927, general opinion was that his views were sacrosanct, and that no self-respecting physicist needed to return to discuss them further. It was Bell's great achievement to dent this complacency at least a little, and from the very end of the 1960s for the next quarter of a century or so, there were a few experimentalists keen to test the Bell inequalities with increasing stringency, and a few theoreticians with fresh ideas about how quantum theory should be interpreted.

While it was generally admitted that Bell's work was a genuine and important contribution to our understanding of quantum theory, and eventually the ideas actually reached some of the textbooks, in the 1970s and 1980s the field was still very much a minority interest, and even those who found it interesting would scarcely have felt that it had, or was likely to have in the foreseeable future, practical application.

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