Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Silicon is Slow," by Daniel Tynan, Popular Science, June 2002.

The article explains how research into single-molecule transistors, DNAstands, and quantum effects provides clues on how to make computers amillion times faster. Scientist Ike Chuang (M.I.T.) and others "suggestthat quantum machines may one day be capable of massively parallelcomputing, in which billions of calculations happen at once--a feat thatwill never be possible with silicon chips." So instead of processingdata sequentially (as your home computer does now), DNA- andquantum-based computers engage in parallel processing (do many tasks atonce). "Many scientists still believe that nanocomputers will be limitedto highly specialized applications such as cryptography or databasesearching."

--- Annette Emerson