So here it is:
Shin et al. How "Quantum" is the D-Wave Machine? http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.7087
"...good explanations for why things are the way they are."
Oh no. Science, emphatically, does not answer why, or at least not the ultimate why. It answers how; it provides a set of models.
To quote Feynman, "While I am describing to you how Nature works, you won't understand why Nature works that way. But you see, nobody understands that." from QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, p. 10.
You're looking for philosophical or religious explanations, but scientific theories by their nature apply to more than one instance, and therefore explain, from one instance to the next, why things continue to behave in similar ways.
If the many-worlds theory is correct and things are the way they are because this happens to be the one universe where they're that way, that wouldn't satisfy you because you'd want to know why universes exist at all, why the quantum fluctuations exist that lead to the big bang.
If a grand unifying theory existed that provided a tautology proving that it, and only it, could ever be the underlying theory behind physics, you'd want to know why. Why is there physics at all?
There are no underlying explanations of that kind. Even if you believe in God, why he chose one form of physics laws rather than another can never be explained unless someone has the good fortune to be in contact and write it down in a holy book, and someone will still ask why God made that choice and not another, or why that God exists and not another; any tautological argument for God can apply to a universal theory explaining all of physics: "it is because it is". Philosophy can only offer insights about how to think about human existence in a helpful (sociologically and psychologically helpful) way, but has nothing to say about the origins of physical theories.
But that use of "why" is not an explanation, it's a justification or rationalization. I may say that the Big Bang explains the present universe, but that explains "how", it doesn't address "why".
> ... scientific theories by their nature apply to more than one instance, and therefore explain, from one instance to the next, why things continue to behave in similar ways.
No, not "why," but "how". For example, natural selection is an explanation, a mechanism, a "how". Not a justification, a reason, a "why".
Obviously in common usage, "why" and "how" may be seen as interchangeable, so this becomes a tempest in a teapot.
Yes, it's semantics, but I would hesitate to say "just semantics".
In a scientific context, "how" and "why" are generally regarded as separate questions. Consider the classic case of peppered moth evolution: the "how" is answered by natural selection -- through random genetic variations the moths changed color over time to match their changing environment. The "why" is answered by noting that the camouflaged moths escaped predation by moth-eating species.
I don't know much about the state of the art, the points in contention between the people in this argument, or quantum computing in general. An article that explained the competing standards for what constitutes a quantum computer and either made a case for why one standard is more useful or described how one participant's argument was inconsistent with their standard would have been genuinely helpful. Instead I read a link to a TED talk, epistemological meta-babble, and a promise that further experiments are incoming.
This company may be completely legitimate and its product may be the most revolutionary thing since sliced bread, but I didn't know before I read this post, I don't know now, and I now think their CTO sounds too Steorn-y for comfort.
This would perfectly align with the defended studies. Additionally it would also align with what skeptics claim it is doing, performing some efficient classical analysis on custom hardware.
Unfortunately the meat is missing from this response, specifically a non-trivial example of definitely quantum data.
He could always challenge skeptics in a fight to the death.
The short answer is: "They aren't really doing quantum computing. They're essentially cheating."
But, I'm no quantum mechanic PhD, so it's not first hand knowledge as to why.
This is one of the reasons we're all going round and round on proving 'quantumness' so that when we get a processor with more qubits we can predict and test that it is indeed all that an a bag of chips.
Wait, what is wrong with getting socks at Christmas? >_>
This is the first time I've heard "quantum" used as an adjective. But probably not the last.
Is "mathematical" in "mathematical physics" an adjective or a noun? I think it's a noun. On the other hand, the "extreme" in "extreme physics" is an adjective.
Now for a gray-area example. If I say "very mathematical physics", then "mathematical" becomes an adjective.
And I might be wrong about this. :)
On what grounds? It's being used to modify a noun ("physics"), and can be modified by an adverb ("very"). This is characteristic of an adjective.