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Comment Not the right article (Score 1) 418

Doesn't anyone read the articles? It says that the article in Phys. Rev. Lett. was published _today_, October 13, 2009. The article that was linked to is two years old and not really relevant. This is the one they're talking about: http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.160502 There's a preprint at: http://arxiv.org/abs/0905.3417 The gist of it is that one can consider a fundamental step of a computation to be the evolution of a quantum system from a state to an orthogonal state (cause if they aren't orthogonal, you're going to get the answer wrong). They figure out the maximum rate at which the system can evolve between orthogonal states, which sets a maximum to the speed of the computation. Turns out that the rate is proportional to the difference in energy of the two states -- which means that you can drive the computation faster by choosing two states that have very different energies. But if you do that, since you need to have a power source driving the system between the two energy levels, you have to spend a lot of energy to keep the rate up. Sort of obvious, but they work out the details with explicit lower bounds for the first time

Comment Flatland (Edwin Abbott) (Score 1) 434

_Flatland_ is a spectacular story that many mathematicans and scientists mention as having been an inspiration when they were young.

At my high school in California a couple of years ago we developed a unit based on _Flatland_ that involved all four core academic subjects -- in the english class they actually read the book and discussed literary and stylistic aspects. In the history class they discussed the allegory being made about social class and gender. In the math class they talked about the geometry, and in my science class we talked about the role of geometry in understanding physics and chemistry, and did exercises and problems that drove home that point. It helped that this high school had a strong core teacher team that collaborated daily on coordinating lessons and sharing notes on struggles our students were having -- so we were already focused on interdisciplinary work and helping the students make connections between different subjects.

I applaud what you are trying to do, and reccomend that whatever materials you choose, you try to coordinate some of them with the other teachers at your level -- it works!

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