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1 Molecule Computes Thousands of Times Faster Than a PC

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the but-only-for-certain-tasks dept.

Hardware 246

alexhiggins732 writes with this tantalizing PopSci snippet: "A demo of a quantum calculation carried out by Japanese researchers has yielded some pretty mind-blowing results: a single molecule can perform a complex calculation thousands of times faster than a conventional computer. A proof-of-principle test run of a discrete Fourier transform — a common calculation using spectral analysis and data compression, among other things — performed with a single iodine molecule transpired very well, putting all the molecules in your PC to shame."

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Computronium. (3, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142228)

I think we are going to see a lot more of this sort of thing as humans get better and better at organizing matter into computing machines. The future is looking very very bright!

Re:Computronium. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142606)

It's so bright, it's almost nuclear...

Re:Computronium. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142734)

The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.

Re:Computronium. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142978)

Is that a reference to the phrase "Let there be light", from the short story "The Last Question", by Isaac Asimov?

This could be the breakthrough... (1)

quantumpineal (1724214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142230)

Hoping this will be the breakthrough that keeps Moores Law in business :P

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (5, Informative)

Polarina (1389203) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142254)

This would more likely break Moore's Law since this molecule isn't a transistor.

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142424)

Actually, this is a very simple OFET.

This is considered an organic semiconductor, and thus an organic transistor.

Moore's law still holds, if not just got smashed by this possible computational breakthrough. Instead of roughly doubling every 18 months, try three orders of magnitude every 6 months. The amount of calculating power this could allow would speed up technology development immensely.

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (4, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142524)

Moore's law isn't about the tip of high-tech research. It's about the leading edge of profitable manufacturing of computational devices.

I.e., until someone like Applied Materials or KLA Tencor is done installing a fab line for this process node, you can't count it as a data point in the history of the law.

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (2, Insightful)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143356)

It's worth noting that this work was done on a lab table, so it hasn't been miniaturized just yet. But if/when they do that, then it would count, would it not?

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (1)

carp3_noct3m (1185697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142258)

But the time from this point until practical seems a very long way off, we still have a shitton of learning to do regarding molecular quantum computation.

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (4, Informative)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142324)

From the top of my head, among these limitations are:
  • It won't solve any NP complete or even hard problems faster than a few orders of magnitude.
  • It is probabilistic, so you still need old fashioned silicon around it, and still all results will come with a P-value.
  • They need quite good cooling, as in liquid nitrogen.

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142378)

From the top of my head, among these limitations are:

  • It won't solve any NP complete or even hard problems faster than a few orders of magnitude.
  • It is probabilistic, so you still need old fashioned silicon around it, and still all results will come with a P-value.
  • They need quite good cooling, as in liquid nitrogen.

Even with all of these conditions, purpose-driven machines for research would still be quite a boon.

Even this proof-of-concept here for computing FFTs shows potential...

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143382)

and still all results will come with a P-value.

I know what a P-value is, but I don't understand what you mean. Please explain.

I thought all results for anything testable comes with a P-value. Maybe I don't understand what it is after all.

Or are you saying this "molecule computer's" results come with a high P-value?

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (4, Funny)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142534)

So we can make improbability machines and then in 10 years an infinite improbability drive?

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142664)

Probably.

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (1)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142878)

To be honest, the Bistro drive seems more likely. Have you ever tried organizing a dinner party at a Bistro?! Man, we're halfway there already!

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142934)

Only if you can calculate the probability of an infinite improbability drive spontaneously coming into existence. And you have a nice hot cup of tea.

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143070)

It's an infinite improbability drive, so the actual probability of it existing must be 1 ... erm, eventually.

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (5, Interesting)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143122)

Bah! People need to stop complaining when it turns out that an important incremental advance in the field of quantum computing isn't already a commercially viable quantum computer that's being integrated into a chip for release next week. There won't be commercially viable products for many years to come. What is needed many, many incremental improvements in a broad variety of disciplines. None of the proof-of-principle experiments around today are attempting to be demonstrations of viable technology. This experiment demonstrates that am arbitrary quantum state can be deterministically written to the vibrational modes of a molecule, allowed to evolve and be read out by projective measurement. It is an important result because it helps open a new avenue of attack: vibrational energy levels in molecules.

The experiment is a beast that requires expensive, ultra-fast lasers, pulse shaping optics, and a molecular jet. It won't be integrated into PCI expansion card anytime soon but the fact that it is possible to coherently prepare superpositions of vibrational modes in molecules is interesting in its own right and is potentially important for quantum computation. Another decade or three of fundamental research and well funded grad students (ha) are going to be required before we can expect a commercial application.

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (1)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142614)

Funny, not even a year ago, it seemed the consensus on /. was that there was no such thing as quantum computing at all. Now that there are proofs of concepts, it's "a long ways off." I'm starting to think the majority on this site say what they want to be true at least as much as what they have investigated and believe to be true. I suppose it's base human nature, but still funny to see. Fnord!

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (1)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142738)

How long did it take us to go from steam engines to 64 bit processors? Of course technology is going to continue to advance in ways that people today may consider impossible. To think that this will never have any viable application (assuming we don't nuke ourselves off the planet first) is asinine.

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143092)

One viable application will probably be the Quantum Bomb. Just drop on one Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Iran turns into a Bowl of Petunias or a Sperm Whale.

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (2, Interesting)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143362)

The ultimate improbability bomb...I like it. The advertising slogan could be "yes, God DOES play dice with the world...and you can, too!"

Re:This could be the breakthrough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143052)

> we still have a shitton of learning to do

Considering the feelings of the English people, I'll avoid posting a slapstick worthless joke.

...

...

...

Pffuahhahahahahahahah...

Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142280)

Something that could play Crysis with no lag!

Re:Finally! (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142932)

Imagine the Beowulf cluster...

Re:Finally! (3, Funny)

sabernet (751826) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143196)

It would be like a whole fraction of a millimeter across! Careful! You'll step on the datacenter!

Need more computing power? (4, Funny)

Luke has no name (1423139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142286)

Add more table salt.

Re:Need more computing power? (0, Troll)

jvillain (546827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142452)

This.

The only real practical applications for this will be governments breaking the encryption of their citizens.

Re:Need more computing power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142832)

Woosh...

Re:Need more computing power? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143276)

This.

Fucktard. Go fucking this yourself. Thising mother fucker.

Oh, and you can say that about any new computing power, yet computers have other uses too (like more powerful encryption), and actually get used for them. Are you not aware of this? I would think not, because you're so focused on being THE most fucking retarded self-referencing piece of shit ever. This.

This.

Fucking this.

Fuck, if there was ever one good reason why object oriented programming sucks, it is that it promotes using "this" for all pretentious twits.

Re:Need more computing power? (1)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143364)

interesting sig.

Thats cheating (5, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142288)

In a way. thats just the same as claiming a laser can caluclate a 2D FFT if you look at the frauenhofer diffraction of an aperture.
Or that single candle can render better than any GPU by the way a room looks like when its illuminated by it.

You just have to redefine a basic property of your system as "calculation"

Re:Thats cheating (5, Interesting)

Platinumrat (1166135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142400)

And that was exactly my final year Physics project, in 1984. Take a slide image, shine a laser through it, put that through a lense. The FFT would be formed at the focal point. We then could apply frequency filters (as another slide) and with another lense I could reconstruct the image (less filtered images). So with modern technology, ie LCD screens and cameras, you could dynamically FFT, filter and reconstruct moving images in real time.

Re:Thats cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142426)

As far as I can tell, you're just saying that they're cheating because the calculation doesn't take place on silicon. The current through a transistor is just as much a property of a system as anything else.

Re:Thats cheating (4, Insightful)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142630)

No, the current through the transistor is a binary representation of a value, which can be run through arbitrary programs on the same general hardware. This is just using analog resonances to create a dedicated mechanical "FFT device" of actual waveforms, not performing analyses on numeric data.

To use a Car Analogy (TM), this is like saying I've invented a better driving simulation algorithm than Gran Turismo/Forza/rFactor/etc by building & driving a physical car.

Re:Thats cheating (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142758)

Think about why your objection isn't one, and you will understand more about computation than you ever did.

Re:Thats cheating (4, Interesting)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143332)

If you define enough real world processes as calculation, you prove none of our laws of physics are the real ones.
      For just one example, Nature can't be storing irrational numbers as infinite series expressions (where would the infinitely large registers to store them be?). Another way to put this is, if some process in Nature counts as a calculation, Nature can't be doing that calculation using numbers such as pi or e, but rather finite approximations of such numbers, that allow results in finite time.
      (Otherwise, somewhere 'outside' the observable universe, there is an infinite amount of storage available for each number needed, and some sort of mechanism that handles those calculations in what looks like finite time to any point of view inside the universe - congratulations, you've just proved both the omnipresence and the omnipotence of God - probably not what you were aiming to do).
      There are other ways around this, such as claiming real world events are just approximations - but what does it mean to say that nature has approximated what would happen to that apple that just fell on Newton's noggin, if there had been an exact inverse square law of gravity inside our computationally finite universe? This sort of claim sounds suspiciously like Plato's cave. Is there an ideal law of gravity that is somehow more real than the law of gravity actually expressed in the universe?
      Alternately, maybe the problem is with claiming that some things are computations, just because they can be interpreted as approximate (usually analog) computations by an observer, that also has other knowledge necessary to parse the events as the results of computations. That's probably just as likely to lead to wild implications, but at least they are different wild implications.

Re:Thats cheating (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143404)

Gravity is a bad example because we honestly have no clue how it works [wikipedia.org] .

A better example would be the electroweak interaction -- we actually know how that works.

Otherwise I agree with you.

Re:Thats cheating (1)

onionman (975962) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143454)

If you define enough real world processes as calculation, you prove none of our laws of physics are the real ones.

      For just one example, Nature can't be storing irrational numbers as infinite series expressions (where would the infinitely large registers to store them be?). Another way to put this is, if some process in Nature counts as a calculation, Nature can't be doing that calculation using numbers such as pi or e, but rather finite approximations of such numbers, that allow results in finite time.

There exists a small number of physicists who are willing to entertain the idea that Nature does not, in fact, deal with any irrational numbers. If all measurable values are quantized (including time and space), then Nature need not bother with "real" numbers. Nature might be perfectly content to get by with, say, some large algebraic extension of the rationals.

Re:Thats cheating (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142970)

Analogue computers can be "1000s" of times faster than their digital equivalents, you just sacrifice a certain level of accuracy. The demonstration in the TFA appears to just be using the quantum properties of the molecule to perform an analogue computation.

Re:Thats cheating (2, Informative)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142986)

That's like saying that the only thing a transistor can only compute is how it will behave for given applied voltages across its base and collector. Strictly true, but it's a critical building block. Any time you can deterministically create a particular quantum state, allow it to evolve, and read the output you can perform some quantum computations. Similarly, any classical system can perform some classical computations; the question is whether those computations are useful. Frauenhofer diffraction performs a Fourier transform and, as another poster pointed out, that can be useful.

The key here is that, while it's easy to prepare a classical system and let it evolve, it's much harder to do it with a quantum system. The experiment is a proof-of-principle experiment that vibrational modes in molecules can be deterministically written to and remain undisturbed enough to evolve in a quantum fashion. So far, the only thing that this quantum system can compute is how it will evolve, but, given appropriate input, other operations could be computed. The authors claim that a controlled-NOT (C-NOT) gate could be implemented which is the only two-bit operation needed to build an arbitrary quantum algorithm.

The reason that this paper isn't a huge breakthrough (Physical Review Letters is good, but it's no Nature or Science) is that the read and write stages are classical so it can't be chained with other operations. Good fidelity C-NOT gates can be built out of many quantum systems but I think vibrational energy level in molecules is a new one, which has many useful features but not, at the moment, quantum read-write. Reliable read-write operations with quantum light are common, but not to systems that have high-fidelity C-NOT protocols.

People, especially people who read /., need to stop expecting quantum computers tomorrow. It turns out that they're really hard to do, but steps like this are solid progress. Give it time; quantum computers will come through a lot incremental progress towards increased fidelity operations in many areas of the field.

Re:Thats cheating (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143076)

I was aware of the using-diffraction-to-compute-Fourier-transforms idea; in fact, I was under the impression that it was somewhat popular before the advent of digital computers. A really good comparison.

Still, I think that maybe "cheating" is exactly what we should be doing more of. We can use obscenely-sophisticated multigrid PDE solvers to solve Navier Stokes... or we can build a wind tunnel and instrument it with sensors. What I'm wondering is whether there are other physical processes that are good analogues for different important problems.

One which is particularly important is the Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman equation -- the PDE whose solution is essentially the holy grail in Optimal Control. If we had hardware to solve that quickly, it'd really do wonderful things for robotics and AI. One can even imagine solving it in 2d by varying the index of refraction in a material. However, in 2d it's not that hard to solve on digital computers either. The problem is that the complexity of solving it grows exponentially with the dimensionality of the state space (Bellman's "curse of dimensionality"), and I think it's very non-obvious how one might go about building an analog computer to solve it in dimensions higher than three.

Another (which is often a "good enough" approximation to HJB) is Laplace's equation. Physical analogues for that are extremely common... RC networks, thermal systems, global illumination... so this could be a good way to e.g. generate robot navigation functions (see e.g. [1]). IIRC there are even people building analog circuits to do exactly this; I find that rather cool (anybody know who it is that's doing this?).

A third example -- this one an ODE rather than a PDE -- which is quite cool (though it doesn't seem super useful) is [2], which can among other things sort lists (for this purpose a bitonic comparator network seems more practical though). Still, very cool.

Of course, you also get all the problems that go along with analog computation: component drift, noise, etc. I wonder if these can be alleviated by (1) controlling the environment (e.g., temperature control), and (2) using some slower digital systems in adaptive control loops to counteract drift. I'm sure that the analog electronics guys have considered both of these ideas, and there are probably papers on them! (I'm aware of e.g. transistor matching, which is standard practice...)

I guess my basic point is just that I think it might be fruitful to continue looking to the physical world for systems that naturally do the computations we care about. It might not be as general-purpose as a Turing Machine, but if it's a problem that matters enough it can become a coprocessor.

[1] C.I Connolly, J. B. Burns, and R. Weiss. Path Planning Using Laplace's Equation. ICRA, 1990. (PDF [psu.edu] .)

[2] R. W. Brockett. Dynamical systems that sort lists, diagonalize matrices, and solve linear programming problems. Linear Algebra and its Applications, 1991. (PDF [harvard.edu] .)

Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (5, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142298)

I really hate it when people come up with the simple "Quantum computer 1000 times faster than conventional computer". It's not just overly simplistic, it's wrong.

Quantum computers can turn some problems that require exponential time to solve into a polynomial time. So instead of taking 2^n time, it might take n^3 time. That's cannot in any realistic way be described as being "X times faster".

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142372)

"Quantum computers can turn some problems that require exponential time to solve into a polynomial time."

If P=NP and BQP in NP that would be false. Also, if BQP=P (is that possible?). Interestingly, we don't have poly-time quantum algorithms
for any NP-complete problems.

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142566)

I can stomp on my keyboard, too AC! fjklf kjfj kbd dbkbhhd hd fkf dkjnb dkdjk sfdnbsdfkjrge a iuqer guiae ughdf! /s, but seriously, that looked about as coherent as what you wrote. I need to take more of the maths. 8^(

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142706)

For the love of god! Why is it so damn difficult to
understand how quantum mechanics works? I think it's a bunch of voodoo
concocted by a bunch of guys who found a way to use the LHC to make the world go
kaboom!

Your tax dollars at work. It seems they've finally found a way to get their overlords to
obey their every whims with unlimited grant money, no doubt
ushering in a new age of scientific fraud
!

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (0, Offtopic)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143358)

Governor Schwartzenegger, is that you?

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142648)

Quantum computers are non-deterministic, so they're *supposed* to be able to solve NP problems in polynomial time. That's what NP means: "this problem has a polynomial time solution on a nondeterministic Turing machine".

This tells us nothing at all about whether P = NP or not. To answer that, you must either come up with a polynomial deterministic solution to an NP complete problem, or formally prove that it can't be done.

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (2, Informative)

king_nebuchadnezzar (1134313) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142696)

he is not saying that it can solve NP problems, he is saying that things such as factorization that are not thought to be in P are definitely in BQP

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (1)

jnnnnn (1079877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142470)

The summary states it is 1000s of times faster *for a certain problem*, which is quite possible.

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (2, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142562)

But still misleading. If you're going to count how long it takes to solve a "problem", you had better count the time it takes to encode the question, prepare the system, the time it takes to measure the result and the time it takes to extract the solution.

It's not unlike comparing a train ride with a flight. Yes, the airplane is faster than the train, but sometimes when you factor in the lenght of time it takes to drive to the airport, board the plane, fly, unboard, drive from the airport to the destination, this can be longer than driving (or walking) to the train station, riding the train, and driving (or walking) from the station to the destination.

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142526)

So instead of taking 2^n time, it might take n^3 time. That's cannot in any realistic way be described as being "X times faster".

You can compare specific cases of n. For example, with 2^n for a conventional computer and n^3 for the quantum computer, if n = 24, the quantum computer is roughly 1000 times faster (2^24 / 24^3 = 1213).

I agree that it's overly simplistic, but it's not always wrong. Just a bit too specific, maybe. And also: try explaining the difference between 2^n and n^3 to the general population.

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142666)


I agree that it's overly simplistic, but it's not always wrong.

If you're smart and knowledgeable enough to know the cases where the comparison is correct, you didn't need the comparison in the first place.

try explaining the difference between 2^n and n^3 to the general population.

Don't. Simply say it fundamentally changes the way computers solve problems, and can make some problems that were nearly insolvable ones into ones that can be solved. Telling them it's 1000 times faster makes it sound like they might be playing Doom 1000 times faster some day.

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142676)

n^3 is bigger because 3 is bigger than 2. I tried it out with n=2 and n=3 just to be sure.

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (1)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143386)

I think that explanation would be helpful since not all of us are as deep into math as you are.

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142634)

Yes, such statements are gross simplifications.

However, saying that "a single molecule can perform a complex calculation thousands of times faster than a conventional computer" is in no way false.

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142766)

It's in no way true either. Whereas the computer performs a calculation, the molecule doesn't actually calculate at all, as it doesn't perform arithmetic. So you're comparing apples and oranges.

Along the same lines, one could say that a wind tunnel can perform a calculation at least 10^23 (eg Avogadro's constant) times faster than a computer, if you're comparing a snapshot photograph with a simulation program which would try to individually compute the trajectories of all the air molecules in the same volume.

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (1)

ihuntrocks (870257) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143176)

So, you are trying to tell me that with this molecule, there was no deliberate process for transforming one or more inputs into one or more results, with variable change? You obviously have no idea what a calculation actually consists of. The concept of calculation is not bound up with arithmetic. Almost counter-intuitively, it doesn't even necessarily have to mathematical.

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142818)

So in your opinion the question "Is a computer faster than an abacus?" has no answer then? Seriously, get a grip - it's just to tell that it can do some things much faster and that is why you should care. That's the first thing you should get across in any communication, there's tons of things that are technically correct but uninteresting or useless. If you can't get that across within the first 30 seconds, I got better things to do. Or since I'm sitting here I probably don't, but anyway...

Re:Quantum computers aren't X times faster. (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143026)


So in your opinion the question "Is a computer faster than an abacus?" has no answer then?

On many levels, yes. Since the problem you're trying to solve is open ended, there's as many answers to it as their are ends to the question.

it's just to tell that it can do some things much faster and that is why you should care. That's the first thing you should get across in any communication, there's tons of things that are technically correct but uninteresting or useless. If you can't get that across within the first 30 seconds, I got better things to do.

Why does it have to be made interesting to everyone? Most people don't really care anyway that someone might be able to solve some mathematical problem faster than they could before. So why bother trying to jazz it up? If you seriously have to dumb something down so much that you lose the essential principles, then the person is never going to be interested in it anyway. Better just tell the truth and let those not interested in it stay uninterested in it. At least nobody has a false sense of knowing something about the thing.

Re:Quantum computers ... P & NP (1)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143042)

If by

Quantum computers can turn some problems that require exponential time to solve into a polynomial time.

you mean transforming nondeterministic polynomial (NP, or deterministic exponential) into polynomial (P) problems, then this is wrong: [wikipedia.org]

"There is a common misconception that quantum computers can solve NP-complete problems in polynomial time. That is not known to be true, and is generally suspected to be false."

The word "some" doesn't save you either, if you do it for one NP-complete problem, you'd just gotten yourself a Fields Medal :)

Let me be the first to say it (4, Funny)

Traf-O-Data-Hater (858971) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142300)

...one molecule ought to be enough for anybody!

sorry (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142348)

Just imagine a beowulf cluster of these. (ducks)

Re:sorry (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142444)

But do they run Linux?

used in != using (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142306)

Popsci can't write, submitter can't read, and timothy doesn't know what a DFT is.

Cheating molecule (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142360)

They dope it with steroid and massive amount of MSG.

premature nerdgasm (1, Funny)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142368)

i accidentally the whole cup

Is this the limit? (1)

SlothDead (1251206) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142474)

I'm no quantum theory expert, but does this represent the limit? Or are there some hypotheses about doing calculations with smaller particles?

Show me a single molecule quantum device (5, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142476)

I've never seen a quantum computing device smaller than the size of a small room, so I'm not really sure how fair it is to compare it to a PC.

Really the PC doesn't even use full atoms for calculations, it uses electrons and electron holes in the atoms, and its at least 2000 times smaller than any quantum device I've seen.

You don't really get to say its one molecule when its a device made up of a fuckton of molecules and you are comparing too it a PC which uses subatomic elements to actually do the work.

You have a fast calculator ... the size of a room ... which I can put 2000 slower and easier to make calculators in and end up faster.

Sure, eventually, they'll make it smaller and smaller, but your comparison is like saying using an f16 to deliver mail is faster than using a postal truck to deliver milk. Just because you make two statements that share a verb doesn't mean you've made a comparison thats in any way meaningful.

Re:Show me a single molecule quantum device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142714)

Mod parent to infinity+5

This calculation was NOT done by one molecule, it was done by a whole bunch of other stuff that led to that molecule being in the states that it was in.
The device that contains it is still the hardware.

Re:Show me a single molecule quantum device (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142784)

This calculation was NOT done by one molecule, it was done by a whole bunch of other stuff that led to that molecule being in the states that it was in.

This is exactly wrong.

Compare this to a drum stick hitting a drum head. Does the drum stick do any calculations? Of course not. The drum head performs a spectral analysis on the result of a strike.

Re:Show me a single molecule quantum device (1)

kappa962 (1583621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142910)

How much meaningful spectral analysis can be done on the Dirac delta function?

Re:Show me a single molecule quantum device (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143136)

Presumably it's not so much an analysis of the strike as an analysis of the shape of the drumhead; you're measuring its impulse response. Unfortunately(?), one still cannot hear its shape [wikipedia.org] . ;-)

Re:Show me a single molecule quantum device (1)

ijakings (982830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142960)

"I've never seen a quantum computing device smaller than the size of a small room, so I'm not really sure how fair it is to compare it to a PC."

Lets dial that back 60 years

"I've never seen a computing device smaller than the size of a small room, so I'm not really sure how fair it is to compare it to a team of specialists"

Interesting.

Re:Show me a single molecule quantum device (1)

ihuntrocks (870257) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143210)

Then, by your comparison, I guess we would have to consider the grid that delivers the power to your computer to be part of your computer, and the plant which produces it, along with all of the various things which go into power production, up to and including the planet itself because we extract resources from it to do this. Perhaps it should even include the sun.

Somebody has to say it.... (1)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142482)

I can't wait until something like this is available in a tattoo with a thought interface and neural wifi - upgrade as necessary! Wouldn't it be awesome to share with someone else that creative spark you ignited on "Item 9", or replay your acid trip when you're bored? Then start hacking all the molecules around you to do your bidding! Well, hopefully this isn't line 1 of why I got sent to the funny farm.

Re:Somebody has to say it.... (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142580)

Sadly we will probably be too old (or dead) to enjoy most of it, I fear...

Re:Somebody has to say it.... (1)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142814)

Well, hopefully it doesn't just become wasted inspiration. It would be ironic if cooling became a problem and Linux users actually started hanging out with the penguins.

Re:Somebody has to say it.... (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143002)

Sounds like a dual purpose benefit! When we go to the moons around the outer planets something like that could be really helpful. Oh, wait, sorry, the nice gentlemen in the white suits say it's time for my pills.

The need for speed (4, Funny)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142530)

A one molecule computer faster than a PC. I find that hard to believe. My Asus Netbook is powered by one "atom", and it's still dog slow.

Neat! (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142558)

I want one so i can overclock it by adding neutrons.

Should be "used in" (0, Redundant)

Squiffy (242681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142560)

"a common calculation using spectral analysis and data compression" should read "a common calculation used in spectral analysis and data compression" instead.

To understand the implications of Quantum Compu... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142626)

.... say bye bye to encryption...

Re:To understand the implications of Quantum Compu (1)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142694)

Encryption that relies on hard problems on computers we're accustomed to, sure, but there are also quantum crypto methods that will become cheap and available in the future. There are special things you can do with quantum crypto (that you can use today if you're rich) that you can't do with ordinary crypto too -- like detecting when people listen in. I don't think this represents the end of home crypto, perhaps a long vacation though.

Re:To understand the implications of Quantum Compu (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142982)

also, plain old XOR (with OTP white noise key the size of the cryptogram) remains unbroken.

Re:To understand the implications of Quantum Compu (1, Funny)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143170)

Unless your Microsoft(tm) white noise generator generates the key 00000000.......

 

Re:To understand the implications of Quantum Compu (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143096)

But the only so-called quantum cryptography I have heard of is hardly cryptography. It is a way to generate a shared secret between 2 computers that happen to be directly linked by optical fiber, while detecting any attempt at eavesdropping. It is worthless unless the two computers that want to communicate have a dedicated fiber line that connects them.[1]

Further while it prevents eavesdropping, it does not prevent full blown man-in-the-middle, where the fiber is severed, and converted into a pair of fibers with the adversary in the middle.

[1] Actually there are some tricks that allow for non-dedicated lines by using a chain of fully trusted relays with quantum secured channels between them, but that is still insane. A network of fully trusted relays simply cannot scale.

Re:To understand the implications of Quantum Compu (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143202)

And say hello to theoretically unbreakable (not 10^15 years unbreakable, literally unbreakable) quantum entanglement-based one time pads.

meteorite impact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142684)

"drill that hole baby .. *fart*"
seen at digg
meteorite impact

but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142782)

does the molecule run Linux?

goddamnit (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142798)

Using quantum interference - the vibrations of the atoms themselves - the team was able to run the complete discrete Fourier transform extremely quickly by encoding the inputs into an optically tailored vibrational wave packet which is then run through an excited iodine molecule whose atomic elements are oscillating at known intervals and picked up by a receiver on the other side. The entire process takes just a few tens of femtoseconds (that's a quadrillionth of a second).

- vibrations, atoms, excited, femtoseconds.... that sounds like it describes my sex life, can I too, calculate a Fourier transform a few thousand times faster than my desktop? I want 'it' to be useful for once!

Re:goddamnit (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143152)

Well, sperm is basically the biological equivalent of a USB key; it's for moving data around in the form of DNA.... Not sure if that helps you or not!

Sooo... (1)

nickdwaters (1452675) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142844)

How many FPS out of Halo will I get with this discovery?

holy shit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32142996)

WOW!

heisenberg principle? (1)

goffster (1104287) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143038)

the molecule might have the right answer, but i imagine that it can only give you a proabilistic answer

Protein folding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143046)

I know for a fact that some molecules can in a few milliseconds solve complex protein folding problems that take supercomputers years. Folding@Home could be revolutionized.

So in other words... (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143150)

...You could run Crysis on about half a ton of iodine?

Yeah right (1)

deseipel (1385271) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143230)

but does it have MIDI?
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