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on 24 February 2005
I picked this book up in my local book shop because I'm always buying "coffee-table" science books and being disappointed about the level of detail.
Conversely, I often buy physics books which go way over my head or bore me to death.
However, George Johnson's " A Shortcut Through Time : The Path To The Quantum Computer " is a break from the norm for me. Not only did I find myself understanding the theories, but I also found that I was enjoying it so much I couldn't put it down - when was the last time you heard someone say that about a quantum computing book?!
Just as mind-blowing as Steve Jones' update of Darwin's Origin Of The Species, "Almost Like A Whale" and equally as well-written and flowing as Robert Kaplan's study of the number '0', "The Nothing That Is", Johnson's style is consistently engaging.
Not once is there a deviation from course, a boring fault that could have caused me to put the book down.
He seemlessly explains the path from the GCSE-physics understanding of proton polarity to the notion of one single quantum-computing-atom cracking an encryption as fast as 5 Earth's covered in Pentium 4 computers.
This is mind-blowing stuff and it's written in a wholely engrossing, informative and enternaining manner. I whole-heartedly recommend this book to any vaguely scientifically-curious person.
I never read books twice, but I think I might read this again.
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on 8 December 2007
In "A Shortcut through Time" George Johnson has successfully encapsulated the flavour of one of the most contemporary sciences of our modern world. Due to the nature in which the mind works many will find the concepts in this book hard to swallow; but that does not mean we should not try and digest them. For it is only by applying ourselves do we progress.

Many will read this book and claim to understand, but will simple only have a rudimentary feel for the field, for its complexity and innovative methodology is known only to a select few. It deals with the subject, as the subtitle suggests of quantum physics; a basic principle of which is the ability for `something' to be in two places at the same time, then snap instantaneously (i.e. does not transverse any midsection) into one of four different positions - {1}, {0}, {1, 0} and {null} in stark contrast to modern Turing Machines which operate on a simple {1}, {0} system.

George Johnson will provide you, as the reader, with a window to gaze at the pinnacle of modern human science; an opportunity which should by no means missed. "A Shortcut through Time" is elegantly written with a fluid and charismatic feel, delightfully illustrated throughout, and as a follower of popular science I can recommend this book to anyone.
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on 25 May 2013
I brought this book after a series of events led to a PhD quantum physicist moving into my student flat. It gives a good overview into the theory and relevance of quantum computers. Well written for a beginner, but it focuses on molecular based computers, rather than the optical systems my PhD to be works on. Nevertheless, it's helped break the language barrier, and make a whole subsection of Wikipedia semi understandable to me.
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on 19 August 2014
Unfortunately I only reached page 104 and began to doubt whether I really understood all of what I had read. I did find it interesting and may try to carry on at a later date. I think the lack of understanding is me rather than the book and hope others reading it are more successful.
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on 15 May 2006
Given the... impossibility of its goal (ie. to put in simple words what is in fact the combination of two scientific areas commonly believed to be of high intelectual challenge), this book may be considered to be a good attempt. Designed to be short and easy, it may be read as a novel but it won't help you in thinking deeper, bringing the ideas into the next step etc. Fair enough! Quantum mechanics conceptual implications are not yet understood by the researchers themselves. How can you fit them in simple words?
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