Quantum Ka-Billionaire: Six Billion Qubits Entangled

The trickle of quantum computing breakthroughs has turned into a fairly steady stream over the last few months. The most recent gush is a report that researchers are closing in on using silicon as the basis for a QC.

A group of Oxford scientists generated six billion entangled bits in a doped silicon mixture.

(By the way, anytime I start to write about Oxford, I have this prim English accent that goes through my mind. When I write about Ivy League schools, I begin to think in a Thurston Howell, III voice. UC-Berkley gets this beatnik imitation.)

I'd walk out on that movie if I was on an airplane.--Thurston Howell, III

So, is this silicon QC thing a big deal?

I think so. It’s definitely a big step.

But, entangling is not necessarily quantum computation.

I think this story got the headlines because most of us are more familiar with the miraculous properties of silicon. It’s something we’re used to talking about. And the mainstream media gets silicon. Silicon valley.

On the other hand, mention topological QC, or adiabatic quantum information systems and watch the eyes of reporters glaze over like frosting on a sticky bun. (Right. Haven’t had breakfast yet.)

The fact that silicon could be used in quantum processing is, in my opinion, proven. But whether silicon makes the most sense, is the most efficient, or can be the most scalable model of quantum information processing, as Thurston Howell, III would say, “is still up for debate, Lovey.”

Spooky Conference at a Distance

A recent conference in India sought to bring in leading experts on quantum entanglement.

Entanglement is known as “spooky at a distance.” It also refers to how scientists hook up at bars located near these conferences.

“Quantum entanglement remains a big conceptual mystery, but we can already see emerging applications,” said Archan Majumdar, a physicist at the S.N. Bose Centre and convener of the conference.

One of the most important applications for entanglement is in quantum information processing,

The abstracts offer some interesting titles. Quantum information, the ambiguity of the past, and the complexity of the present is one. That one may or may not be about my career.

You can review some of the abstracts.

Quantum Computers Meet Manga Graphics

Professor Miyake, The Record

Take the imagination of a one-time Manga enthusiast and combine it with the wild, wild world of quantum information science and what do you get?

Alice Meets the Quantum Computer.

Akimasa Miyake, of the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics, uses his love of drawing Manga comics, a distinctly Japanese form of comic-meets-graphic novels–and his passion of quantum computing to take a Manga Alice into the world of quantum mechanics.

Miyake drew Alice on his office blackboard to help answer the question: why do we need quantum computers. The researcher has some ideas on this.

Primarily, the quantum computer can model behavior that classical physics and classical computers can only estimate. Put “superposition” at the top of the list.

But, deeper still, Miyake makes some interesting points about quantum information processing and reality:

This would give a quantum computer immense power. If this feature of nature could be exploited, we would have machines that could process information in a much faster and deeper way than even the best supercomputers can do.
In a way, nature is already doing this, Miyake says.
In fact, some people imagine all of nature, the whole universe, as being a lot like a giant information processor, or a giant quantum computer, one that is constantly managing this quantum information to produce the reality we see.
“That is one possible perspective,” Miyake says. He notes that the late John Wheeler, a famous American theoretical physicist, coined the phrase “it from bit” about 20 years ago to convey this idea that maybe everything is information.
“In the quantum information community today, we have more or less come to this viewpoint because we tend to see the world in terms of these quantum bits,” Miyake says.

Miyake also speculates that quantum computers could one day go from Alice in Wonderland to Alice in the Matrix:

This would give a quantum computer immense power. If this feature of nature could be exploited, we would have machines that could process information in a much faster and deeper way than even the best supercomputers can do.
In a way, nature is already doing this, Miyake says.
In fact, some people imagine all of nature, the whole universe, as being a lot like a giant information processor, or a giant quantum computer, one that is constantly managing this quantum information to produce the reality we see.
“That is one possible perspective,” Miyake says. He notes that the late John Wheeler, a famous American theoretical physicist, coined the phrase “it from bit” about 20 years ago to convey this idea that maybe everything is information.
“In the quantum information community today, we have more or less come to this viewpoint because we tend to see the world in terms of these quantum bits,” Miyake says.

I’d personally like to see a quantum Mad Hatter.

Can We Super-Charge Classic Computers to Match Quantum Computers

The answer to the headline is, apparently, yes.

At least for some types of problems, classical computers using specially-developed algorithms can match quantum computers.

A group of researchers applied an algorithm to evaluate the potential classical computational speed. The process has a heavy name to match the heavy concept: the matrix multiplication weights update method.

It kind of reminds me of turning a Model T into a hot rod.

Like most great innovators, the researchers combine two fields of study: combinatorial optimization and learning theory.

Scott Aaronson, an MIT professor and an expert on QC technologies, said that the tech has the potential for application for solving optimization problems in several industries.

The benefits of a classic computer that’s super-charged with QC speeds is obvious. But, I can’t help buy wondering, if fine-tuned algorithms could match quantum computing speed, what would fine-tuned quantum computing algorithms do once QCs are created?

Entangling Particles With an Un-entangled Particle

Entanglement is weird.

Two particles that are entangled can co-ordinate with each other. Instantly.

So, let’s toss more weirdness on the fire, shall we?

Two researchers have shown that two distant particles can be entangled with a third particle that has never been entangled with either of them.

In their own words:

“It was shown that two distant particles can be entangled by sending a third particle never entangled with the other two [T. S. Cubitt et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 037902 (2003)]. In this paper, we investigate a class of three-qubit separable states to distribute entanglement by the same way, and calculate the maximal amount of entanglement which two particles of separable states in the class can have after applying the way.”

You can read the paper here.

 

Another $2 Million for Quantum Computing Research

Quantum Computing is all about uncertainty.

But some funders are certain about how much of an impact quantum computing will have. In a few words: game changing.

A University of Georgia researcher was awarded a $2 million National Science Foundation grant to study quantum computing.

UGA Physicist Michael Geller has worked most of his career on quantum computers.

“Quantum computing promises to solve very specific but important problems,” said Geller, “and in doing so demonstrate a dramatic improvement over supercomputers currently in use. So far, quantum computing has just existed as a theoretical possibility. We believe it will be possible to build one, but we also know it will be extremely difficult. If one could be built, it would transform information technology.”

While teams worldwide are working on the design and potential construction of a quantum computer, the new NSF grant will put UGA in the thick of the race and involve the expertise of internationally recognized scientists, including Geller and his colleague in the department of physics and astronomy, Phillip Stancil, who also is a member of the UGA Center for Simulational Physics.

You can read the complete story here.

Vision Capitalists

I wrote a piece on the difference between venture capitalists and–what I call–vision capitalists.

The post is a reaction to a few things. One, I think the valuations of sites like Groupon are a little bubble-like. (I should have added that Jayson Werth’s $120 million valuation was a little insane, too.)

The other insight is that a group of venture capitalists who are more visionary does exist. Peter Thiel’s recent dinner for potential funders is one such group.

The post is called “How to Fund the Future: Enter the Vision Capitalists” out at the Singularity Symposium blog.