A Million-Dollar Quantum Boilermaker

Hey, a million-dollar quantum boilermaker…

No, it’s not a new drink created by the makers of 4-Loco, it’s another sign of the increasing interest in quantum computing.

The National Science Foundation awarded Purdue University $1.5 million to study quantum information technology. The new center will use a multi-disciplinary approach to studying quantum phenomena

“The center will bring together experts in theoretical chemistry and quantum information processing to investigate information techniques used to gain new insights into a variety of chemical processes from bond breaking to photosynthesis,” said Kais, who is a professor of chemistry and a researcher in the Birck Nanotechnology Center. “This work will advance our understanding of chemical phenomena and could lead to the realization of quantum computers, which would be capable of performing complex calculations and simulations impossible on today’s computers.”

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The Birth of the Quantum Internet?

Researchers may have demonstrated a proof-of-concept for a quantum network.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) profs say they have shown how to entangle a quantum state stored in four spatially distinct atomic memories. They described the process in Nature.

I read about it at Eureka Alert.

The researchers also say that this can serve as “quantum interface between the atomic memories—which represent something akin to a computer “hard drive” for entanglement—and four beams of light, thereby enabling the four-fold entanglement to be distributed by photons across quantum networks. The research represents an important achievement in quantum information science by extending the coherent control of entanglement from two to multiple (four) spatially separated physical systems of matter and light.”

It’s important to understand the difference between a quantum logic gate is and a quantum network. Sometimes, quantum information terms are used interchangeably.

According to Quantiki, a quantum logic gate is a device which performs a fixed unitary operation on selected qubits in a fixed period of time and a quantum network is a device consisting of quantum logic gates whose computational steps are synchronised in time

Exploring Dark Information

The following is a rambling, vaguely though-out exploration of a concept that hit me while attending a seminar on future cosmology and after reading Vlatko Vedral’s Decoding Reality and Decoding the Universe by Charles Seife.

(There’s a lot of decoding going on in the science publishing world apparently…)

So, I’m fairly confident that, based on these two books, that matter, energy, and information are intimately woven together and that it won’t surprise me at all to find that information is the more primary of the three. As an example of this, check out how physicists have been able to transform information into energy.)

There’s also the similarity between the second law of thermodynamics and Shannon’s law of information.

But that only explains about 5 percent of the universe, according to cosmologists. About 95 percent of the visible universe is unaccounted for. Or, at least, it’s not normal matter and energy. Scientists call this missing stuff Dark Energy and Dark Matter. Which are horrible names. I think of Darth Vader instantly. Or, I just naturally think of dark energy as being the opposite form of energy and dark matter as the opposite of regular matter. I don’t think this is a correct way of visualizing what is probably not the opposite of anything, but a level of reality that is at a higher dimension than can be explained in our measly three-, possibly four-dimensions.

But scientists don’t get grants for naming things, so let’s press on.

Dark energy and matter are known for their homogeneity–it’s ubiquitous throughout the universe. Scientists also suggest that if exotic forms of matter and energy are the cause of the universe’s expansion, they must exert strong negative pressure.

If dark energy and dark matter exist, wouldn’t it follow that exotic forms of information exist, as well? In other words, does dark information exist?

Big Blue Gets a Quantum Clue

IBM executives analyze new quantum computing hardware.

About, oh, let’s say, sixth months ago, I thought the biggest problem facing quantum computingwas the failure of “big money” to explore the potential of QC.

I am starting to believe that the QC big money glacier is starting to melt.

IBM announced its own five-year quantum computing project. (Note that the image used by PopSci is D-Wave’s QC technology, so IBM has some catching up to do.)

IBM is tapping experts from Yale and University of California-Santa Barbara’s quantum information programs to investigate the potential.

Does this mean we’ll have a quantum computer in five years? Not necessarily, but major firms rarely investigate technology unless it’s 1) possible and 2) lucrative. New research is unveiling the possibility of quantum technology. The business models will soon reveals its potential.

Quantum computing has long been at the fringe of serious research, but the IBM project, as well as Google’s testing of the QC waters is a sign that this attitude is changing.

It is actually be surprising how quickly the quantum computing community and industry ramps up.

Quantum Computing Isn’t, Like, Rocket Surgery

Dammit, Smithers, this isn’t rocket science, it’s brain surgery!

–C. Montgomery Burns

Nobody ever said quantum computing was going to be easy.

Wait a minute. Someone did say quantum computing was easy–at least vastly easier compared to previous estimations on the complexity of QC.

Most people think that creating useful technology based on quantum mechanics is on the same order of magnitude as firing a ceramic Holy Grail or whittling the Ark of the Covenant out popsicle sticks.

A paper published at The Physical Review of Letters suggests that quantum computing may be easier than once thought because quantum computers can be built with a tremendous amount of redundancy. In fact, the data analysis theory allows “quantum computers to tolerate data error rates of almost 25 percent,” according to the paper.

Sean Barrett, lead author of the study and Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Physics at Imperial College London says:

“Just as you can often tell what a word says when there are a few missing letters, or you can get the gist of a conversation on a badly connected phone line, we used this idea in our design for a quantum computer.”

(This sounds a lot like Shannon’s Communication Theory.)

It appears more and more that the QC era will be on us earlier than we  imagined. And this is yet one more example of the need for good QC software now. Another need is to match the financial support of venture capitalists with the creative genius of entrepreneurs to find ways to leverage the power of quantum computing.

You can read the actual paper here.