quax writes: In the most influential textbook on the matter Michael Nielsen and Isaac Chuang wrote:
"Quantum Computing and Quantum Information Science has taught us to think physically about computation. (...) Indeed in the broadest terms we have learned that any physical theory, not just quantum mechanics, may be used as the basis for a theory of information processing and communication."
This is exactly what the Kish Cypher Encryption protocol is doing by exploiting thermodynamics in an unexpected fashion. Could this become an easier to implement alternative to Quantum Cryptography, providing unhackable networks?
quax writes: Feynman famously quipped that "nobody understands" quantum mechanics. But after almost a century shouldn't there be at least some consensus on how to interpret this theory? Ever since the famous argument between Bohr and Einstein over the EPR paradox, conventional wisdom was that Bohr's Copenhagen Interpretation will carry the day, but when surveying 33 leading experts at a quantum foundation conference, less than half voted that way.
quax writes: Science and engineering is not free of fads. Sometimes they start with a bang and end up vilified as pathological science just like cold fusion did. But could something seemingly as established as Quantum Computing fall into the same category?
Some physicists are seriously proposing exactly that. The author argues that the amount of publications on Quantum Computing has reached an unsustainable plateau and that the ratio of one experimental to thirty theoretical papers demonstrates how little this field is actually grounded in reality.
But what if the shoe is on the other foot? Could it be that these animosities are actually more a reflection on the state of modern physics?
quax writes: Whenever Quantum Computing is dragged out to get some mainstream exposure it is the same old story: If we finally get these powerful machines then the end of all encryption is here and the sky is falling.
This article makes the case that there is much more to Quantum Computing than that, and that all the hand-wringing is not only pre-mature but also rather silly. Current quantum computing devices cannot defeat our standard encryption yet, but are at a point where they can already be a valuable new computing resource. On the other hand when considering how modern cryptography works, and when taking into account the progress made on Quantum Cryptography, the often repeated threat from Quantum Computers to the privacy of a encrypted data appears to be completely overblown.
quax writes: The first quantum computing devices have hit the market, while the juggernauts of the IT industry are still in research mode. So what is the difference between what you can buy now, and what IBM and Microsoft are researching? Turns out, unlike modern digital computers, the quantum computing field is far more diverse in terms of design and hardware approaches. This article attempts to sort this out and predicts a timeline for this nascent IT sector.
quax writes: Solving linear equations is one of the most common mathematical problems, and it is a fairly easy one that everybody learns to work in school. Surprisingly, a new algorithm has been found that improves over established methods within the domain of finite fields.
This algorithm is poised to find widespread use in applications as diverse as cryptography and quantum error correction.
The article provides links to the original paper and illustrates the concept of finite fields.
quax writes: The recent physics Noble price awards highlighted the prospect of quantum computing. Yet, in the media reports there was no mentioning of the only company that claims to ship the first quantum computing device. This is despite some recent impressive computational feats that were accomplished on its hardware and published in Nature. The company seems to do all the right things, so why do they get so little mainstream coverage?
quax writes: In the wake of the Fukushima disaster the nuclear industry again faces massive opposition. Germany even decided to abandon nuclear energy altogether and the future of the industry is under a cloud of uncertainty in Japan. But one thing seems to be here to stay for a very, very long time: The radioactive waste that has half-lives measured in thousands of years.
But there is a technology under development in Belgium that could change all this: A sub-critical reactor design, driven by a particle accelerator that can transmute the nuclear waste into something that goes away within about two hundred years.
Could this lead to a revival of the nuclear industry and the reprocessing of spend reactor fuel?
quax writes: Entanglement lies at the heart of quantum mechanics and irritated Einstein to no end who called it "spooky action at a distance".
More recently science learned how to use entanglement as an information processing and computing resource. For instance it was thought to be the foundational ingredient for inherently wiretap safe quantum cryptography.
Now a recent paper in Nature Physics showed that the underlying phenomenon of quantum teleportation can be achieved by using none-entangled separable states that only display a low degree of non-classical correlations.
These states are characterized by their Quantum Discord property. The latter may turn-out to be more important than entanglement for the young field of quantum computing.
Time to add a new term to your science vocabulary.
quax writes: In school you probably learned that the decay rate of radioactive matter is solely determined by the halftime specific to the element. There is no environmental factor that can somehow tweak this process. At least there shouldn’t be. Now a second study confirmed previous findings that the decay rate of some elements seems to be under the subtle and mysterious influence of the sun. As of now there is no theoretical explanation for this strange effect buried in the decay rate data.
quax writes: For almost a century, ever since Einstein published his theory of General Relativity, a truly unified theory has been evading physicists . After decades of efforts, String theory and other mainstream approaches (so far) failed to deliver. This article takes a look at why it is so hard to reconcile Einstein's masterpiece with Quantum Mechanics and why there's hope that newly proposed experiments may eventually rectify the situation.
quax writes: Diamonds are an incredibly versatile material. A recent slashdot stories report its use in medicine, another shows that exploiting is hardness can help to produce better phase change memory. Some synthetic diamonds are semi-conductors and could be made into chips that don’t require cooling. Nevertheless, diamonds never played an important role for computer technology. This may be about to change. Ironically it is this precious gem that could result in Quantum Computers cheap enough for the rest of us.
quax writes: Getting a scientific paper published that goes against the grain of conventional wisdom was never easy. Especially when it seems to contain an obvious glaring mistake. Fortunately despite already being some kind of pop celebrity with no shortage of fan mail, Einstein still opened letters he received from strangers. And this is how a trivial, fateful counting mistake was able to change the course of physics forever.
quax writes: How do you explain Quantum Computing to the uninitiated? Many expert have tried, although one of the leading ones rather settled for explaining why there is no easy explanation. As Feynman said in so many words, nobody really understands quantum mechanics. How the heck can it then be properly used as a computational resource? This article rounds up some noteworthy explanation attempts.
quax writes: Recently theoretical physicist Dr. Gates recalls his reaction to watching the movie the Matrix, when interviewed for NPR's "On Being" radio show:
The thought occurred to me, suppose there were physicists in this movie. How would they figure out that they lived in the Matrix? One way they might do that is to look for evidence of codes in the laws of their physics. But, you see, that's what had happened to me already.