Quantum information science is an arcane field that delves into the role of information in the physical world. Among the questions it asks are: What are the ultimate capabilities for storing, transmitting and manipulating information? Can radically new computers be developed by drawing upon quantum mechanics, the physics of the extremely small? And, is the universe itself some kind of computer, and if so what does this mean?
The field’s cosmic implications are explored by two new books with similar titles. Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos gives the perspective of Seth Lloyd, an MIT professor of mechanical engineering who has been a pioneer of quantum computing. Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes is by science journalist Charles Seife.