“The Evolution of Computer Science”

The Physics arXiv Blog at MIT’s Technology Review highlights how far computer science has advanced in the last 50 years:

Computing the energy levels of a helium atom in 1958 was significantly harder than it is today. But a comparison of then and now methods reveals some counter intuitive anomalies about the impact of computer science.

In 1958, Chaim Pekeris completed a landmark project in computer science. As a physicist at the Weizmann Institute of Technology in Israel, he become fascinated with the relatively new science of quantum mechanics and its potential to explain from first principles the behaviour of atoms.

There was a problem however. The equation developed by Schrodinger that could do the job was too complex for mere mortals to handle. Using it to determine the electronic energy levels of a even a lowly helium atom was seemingly impossible.

Chaim had an idea, however: why not exploit the incipient field of computer science to do the job.



Source article dated 3 June 2010.

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