Quantum Bayesian Networks

November 4, 2011

The unicorn in the garden

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 1:40 pm

James Thurber (1894-1961) was an American writer with a simple yet very beautiful and witty writing style. He is best known for his funny short stories and cartoons that appeared in the New Yorker magazine. Among his most famous short stories are such classics as “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, which is frequently read in English class in American high schools.

James Thurber described quantum computing in his writings. Below I’ve crossed out a few of the words in one of his stories and replaced them by equivalents.

The unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER in the garden
by James Thurber

Once upon a sunny morning a man who sat in a breakfast nook looked up from his scrambled eggs to see a white unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER with a golden hornFUTURE quietly cropping the rosesCNOTs in the garden. The man went up to the bedroom where his wife was still asleep and woke her. “There’s a unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER in the garden,” he said. “Eating rosesCNOTs.” She opened one unfriendly eye and looked at him. “The unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER is a mythical beast,” she said, and turned her back on him. The man walked slowly downstairs and out into the garden. The unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER was still there; he was now browsing among the tulipsQUBIT ROTATIONS. “Here, unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER,” said the man and pulled up a lilyTOFFOLI GATE and gave it to him. The unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER ate it gravely. With a high heart, because there was a unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER in his garden, the man went upstairs and roused his wife again. “The unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER,” he said, “ate a lilyTOFFOLI GATE.” His wife sat up in bed and looked at him, coldly. “You are a QUANTUM COMPUTER-booby,” she said, “and I am going to have you put in a QUANTUM COMPUTER-booby-hatch.” The man, who never liked the words “QUANTUM COMPUTER-booby” and “QUANTUM COMPUTER-booby-hatch,” and who liked them even less on a shining morning when there was a unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER in the garden, thought for a moment. “We’ll see about that,” he said. He walked over to the door. “He has a golden horn in the middle of his foreheadFUTURE,” he told her. Then he went back to the garden to watch the unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER; but the unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER had gone away. The man sat among the rosesCNOTs and went to sleep.
 And as soon as the husband had gone out of the house, the wife got up and dressed as fast as she could. She was very excited and there was a gloat in her eye. She telephoned the police and she telephoned the psychiatrist; she told them to hurry to her house and bring a strait-jacket. When the police and the psychiatrist arrived they sat down in chairs and looked at her, with great interest. “My husband,” she said, “saw a unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER this morning.” The police looked at the psychiatrist and the psychiatrist looked at the police. “He told me it ate a lilyTOFFOLI GATE,” she said. The psychiatrist looked at the police and the police looked at the psychiatrist. “He told me it had a golden horn in the middle of its foreheadFUTURE,” she said. At a solemn signal from the psychiatrist, the police leaped from their chairs and seized the wife. They had a hard time subduing her, for she put up a terrific struggle, but they finally subdued her. Just as they got her into the strait-jacket, the husband came back into the house.
 “Did you tell your wife you saw a unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER?” asked the police. “Of course not,” said the husband. “The unicornQUANTUM COMPUTER is a mythical beast.” “That’s all I wanted to know,” said the psychiatrist. “Take her away. I’m sorry, sir, but your wife is as crazy as a jay bird.” So they took her away, cursing and screaming, and shut her up in an institution. The husband lived happily ever after.
Moral: Don’t count your boobies until they are hatched.

An excellent film was made of this short story. It can can be viewed, for example, here, on the YouTube boob tube.


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