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April 14th, 2010
But in the last few years, scientists have found a new source of randomness that cannot be produced by a computer program. This is called algorithmic randomness and it is the gold standard when it comes to the absence of order. The new source of this randomness is the quantum world and comes from exploiting quantum processes such as whether a photon is transmitted or reflected by a semi-silvered mirror.
This ought to produce sequences that can never be created by a computer. But are these sequences measurably different from those produced by computers?
This question is settled today by Cristian Calude at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and a few mates. These guys have carried out the first experimental comparison of randomness generated in these different ways and they've done it on a huge scale, using sequences 2^32 long.
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