back-home arrow mini logo January, 2002
IBM Builds Special Computer to Factor Number 15

      AllMadIn, CA— After weeks of trying to get an interview with Dr. Isaac Sham, a leading scientist at IBM-AllMadIn, CA, I was elated that he had finally agreed to see me. We science reporters love to write about Dr. Sham. He has to be the most interviewed and photographed quantum computerist on earth (see Google Image search here, and our own photo gallery here. For a signed photograph write here). (Mind you, Dr, Sham is a shy, self-effacing guy who would rather keep his nose to the books. These photographs and interviews were extracted from him only after much cajoling and arm twisting by the press.)

The reasons for Dr. Sham's popularity with the media are not hard to find. His achievements in the quantum computing field are manifold. He hasn't produced any new algorithm's, but he has co-authored with Prof. My Nielsen Ratings, a really, really, really fat book about the two algorithms, Rover and Sure, that constitute the extensive field of quantum computing. Perhaps Prof. Sham's most important achievement is to have pushed the envelope of NMR computing to its ultra-far-single-digits limit, giving us a 2 qubit computer that can do Rover's algorithm, and a 7 qubit computer that can factor number 15 using Sure's algorithm. In principle, this proves that quantum computers will be able to break all cryptographic codes and search the Internet!

Reporter: I heard you've been made a Professor at MIT. Congratulations! No one in the quantum computing community deserves this more than you, because you epitomize the true spirit and character of this community. And it's people like you who will decide the future direction and tenor of this young field. (gulp)

Prof. Sham: Thank you.

Reporter: Could you please tell us something about your most recent work?

Prof. Sham: Well, we factored number 15 into 3 times 5. It was a thorny problem, but, by Jove, we did it. We started building our NMR computer in 1997 with a 5-million-dollar grant from DARPA. So it took 5 years, a few million dollars, and much hard work to build our room sized computer. But just think how powerful it is! And according to theory, NMR computers have tremendous growth potential. They can have as many as 10 qubits!

Reporter: Could you please tell us something about your future plans?

Prof. Sham: Well. I plan to continue publishing in Nature Magazine. Another exciting development is that I plan to add one more qubit to NMR computers in the next few years. We've won another 3-million-dollar grant from DARPA to continue our work. Isn't our government just great! We can't wait to start factoring number 18. At MIT, I will be working in the same department (MIT Media Lab) as my friend, Prof. Neil Gershenfeld, another scientist with few discoveries but many press releases to his credit. Together, we plan to inundate the world with millions of repetitive news stories about us. Our ultimate aim is to replace Bill Nye, The Science Guy, as the number one symbol of science in popular American culture.

The interview went as well as could be desired. I found Prof. Sham to be interesting and cordial. However, I came home with the thought that perhaps Prof. Sham exaggerates a bit sometimes. Bill Nye is my hero, and I hope Prof. Sham, as good a scientist as he is, will never replace him. "Bill Nye the science guy, Science rules!"

back-home arrow mini logo January, 2002
© 2002, Artiste