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Physicists Store, Retrieve a "Squeezed Vacuum"

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the there-is-no-cat dept.

Data Storage 106

An anonymous reader sends us to the site of Science Magazine for news that will interest those who have followed experiments to slow and stop light. Research groups in Canada and Japan have succeeded separately in storing a special kind of vacuum — a "squeezed vacuum" — in a puff of gas and then retrieving it a split second later. Such experiments might lead to advances in quantum encryption. At the very least they will help to illuminate the boundary between quantum and classical realms.

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There is no boundry (5, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693528)

It's a matter of perception, which is very limited when you see the universe through a pinhole.

Re:There is no boundry (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22693618)

That was always my thought.

In order to see position or speed of electrons of an atom we beam electrons into said atom, an swatch the scattered results. That is like determining where the earth is in it's orbit by flinging jupiter sized planets through the solar system and see what gets scattered where.

Re:There is no boundry (2, Informative)

caramelcarrot (778148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22695692)

You're referring to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heisenberg's_microscope [wikipedia.org] , however, that isn't actually what the uncertainly principle is about - but rather the non-commuting nature of the position and momentum operators on a fundamental level.

Re:There is no boundry (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22693640)

But there is an "a" in boundary, though.

Re:There is no bound(a)ry (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22693656)

Dude, they are completely different. On one hand you have people like Heisenberg and Schrödinger, on the other hand you have people like Bach and Beethoven.

Re:There is no bound(a)ry (4, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693816)

Your analogy is pretty baroque.

Re:There is no bound(a)ry (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694924)

On that note, I pitch that all non-musical analogies be barred from slashdot.

Re:There is no bound(a)ry (1)

wordsofwisedumb (957054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22695360)

Give it a rest...

Re:There is no bound(a)ry (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22695452)

This is getting ritardando.

Re:There is no bound(a)ry (2, Funny)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 6 years ago | (#22697378)

Enough, for Tissimo's sake!

There is a boundry (2, Funny)

STrinity (723872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694484)

It's beyond that door, where light and shadow meet in a place we call The Twilight Zone. The vacuum's in the corner, with a Talking Tina and broken stopwatch on top.

Re:There is no boundry (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22695128)

A quick breakdown.

As TFA states, this is a 'technical' achievement. They've shown how to create, and MEASURE a well-predicted phenomena in quantum optics. This is significant, because pretty much anything in quantum optics is difficult to demonstrate. Measurement/observation of quantum phenomena 'destroys' quantum behaviour, so a good deal of physical understanding, and cleverness, is needed to perform an experiment.

To speak broadly, this work, like most of QO is a lo-ong way away from a practical device, i.e. something that can interface with 'classical' physics without destroying it's quantum behavior. But hey, a step up is still a step higher, no matter how you slice it.

JDS

Re:There is no boundry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22698558)

While I think you're probably right, maybe we should prove it first.

I always struggle to slow at the stop light (4, Funny)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693560)

but I thought it was my brakes.

Sounds to me (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693574)

like the guy just "reinvented" the radio. Take a carrier, modulate the carrier, remove the carrier signal, amplify the result, and output to a speaker.

No, but you're close - this is *OLD* news (1)

schon (31600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22695208)

storing a special kind of vacuum -- a "squeezed vacuum" -- in a puff of gas and then retrieving it a split second later
Actually, it sounds to me like they just (re)discovered magic smoke! [wikipedia.org]

That drawing board is getting a bit small... (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693580)

If you stop to think about how science has advanced in the last 20 years your brain, like mine, might explode. DNA, human genome, genetic medical treatments, dark matter, hawking radiation, quantum related developments... all leading up to 2012? There are people alive right now that when they were born, germs were unknown never mind planes, space travel, dark matter, and something as small as an atom. Mind you, there are few like that still alive, but there are. At no time in history has information advanced so much in so short a time. The Internet has helped play a part in that also.

Should quantum computing become reality, perhaps we will have 400000x current computing power on our desktops. At that point, voice recognition becomes reality, huge data stores become reality and usable. Things like this could push the information age into a whole new era.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (3, Interesting)

ral8158 (947954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693624)

Quantum computing is basically worthless without traditional processors working along side it. Although there are many things quantum works exceedingly well for, the vast majority of tasks get no benefit from being on a quantum computer. There probably won't be a 400000x increase in the near future.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (1)

ral8158 (947954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693922)

Self correction: Quantum computing is basically worthless for use in a desktop computer without being pared with a traditional processor. Quantum computing is very fast for factoring large integers, database searches, and cryptography.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (1)

andruk (1132557) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694524)

Only if you can tell where your database is, as knowing how fast its going is rather useless.

Huzzah Heisenberg!

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (1)

Troed (102527) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694468)

Although there are many things quantum works exceedingly well for

Can you name one? Just last week I heard it was actually _only_ factorization.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (1)

chrisb33 (964639) | more than 6 years ago | (#22697320)

There's a pretty good list at http://www.carolla.com/quantum/QuantumComputers.htm [carolla.com] . To summarize:
  1. Factorization - as you mentioned, code breaking is a big deal.
  2. Quantum cryptography - the article I linked to isn't quite right about quantum teleportation (it can't, by itself, be used to send information) but quantum cryptography is a very interesting field. Essentially you can guarantee that there are no eavesdroppers on a certain line, since measurements by these eavesdroppers would necessarily mess up the quantum states.
  3. Quantum mechanics simulations - it may sound a bit circular, but one problem that doesn't scale well on classical computers is simulating quantum mechanics. Quantum computers would be inherently better at this, allowing for better simulations of complex chemical or physical processes.
  4. Random number generators - certain algorithms require a source of random numbers, which can only be approximated by a classical computer. You could imagine having a small quantum unit on a classical chip that acts as a random source.
Quantum computing is still in its infancy, so it's likely that more and more applications will be found as the theory and experiments mature. Things like quantum teleportation are also quite interesting from a theoretical and philosophical point of view, so there will be interest in this field for a number of years.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (1)

Troed (102527) | more than 6 years ago | (#22703068)

I'd say that pretty much fits in with what was said. Of course quantum is good for quantum, and the RNG was a bit interesting - but the only other practical application (so far) is factorization.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (3, Informative)

glwtta (532858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693916)

There are people alive right now that when they were born, germs were unknown

Holy crap, there are people running around who are over 330 years old? Man, those guys have lived :)

At no time in history has information advanced so much in so short a time.

Actually, with a few notable exceptions, this has been true of any time in history. But yeah, there's a difference in degree.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693928)

There are people alive right now that when they were born, germs were unknown never mind planes, space travel, dark matter, and something as small as an atom. Mind you, there are few like that still alive, but there are. At no time in history has information advanced so much in so short a time. The Internet has helped play a part in that also.
Indeed.

However, it's somewhat sobering to realize that this generation is barely left. For instance, there is one American veteran of World War I alive today.

What has our generation done? We're slouching, and making an absolute mess of things in the process.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694024)

I was trying to figure out when neural-machine interfaces will become workable.

Consider the space used by a 8GB SDHC card. Tiny enough to fit into a skull, right? If that could be hooked up to your mind in such a way in order to retrieve and write data at even 56k speeds, just think of what that would do for human productivity. Even for *routine* jobs the benefits would be huge -- cabbies and truck drivers with perfect maps of the cities, store clerks that know the price of everything in the store, factory workers who know how to do their job on the first day.

And this is ignoring the daily changes in our lives if we had perfect memory. Even if it was limited to text only, and would have to consciously retrieved/stored, it would be amazing.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (2, Insightful)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694552)

And the implanting of all of the governments programm^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H ideals at birth.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 6 years ago | (#22696794)

I don't think it will every be workable. The body just doesn't have a extra "space" laying around for you to run wires through or install CPUs.

The best I was able to come up with was bone replacement. Eyes, teeth, and ears have space in them or are constructed of solid materials.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22696830)

Nanobots forming a self-adapting wiring system inside of your blood vessels? I'm not sure how these things could actually interact with your body, and the components may well have to be outside of your body - perhaps a surgical pouch attached to your stomach/armpit/arm/shoulder/etc..

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694050)

Should quantum computing become reality, perhaps we will have 400000x current computing power on our desktops. At that point, voice recognition becomes reality, huge data stores become reality and usable. Things like this could push the information age into a whole new era.
Sometimes, I get in a discussion with my father and I who experienced the greatest computer revolution. He came in just as computers got started working with radio tubes and faded out when the IBM PC was losing to the clones. Personally, I started with a computer that had 200kb Datasettes on my C64, now I have over 10,000,000 times as much space. I guess huge datastores are in the eye of the beholder...

I think the greatest new future would be a huge increase in network bandwidth. Imagine bandwidth being almost an unlimited resource, where streaming a 1080p signal to every TV in your house while sending grandma your HDTV home videos without it breaking a sweat. Where being a packrat isn't worth it because streaming is faster and easier. Unrealistic? I don't know, what's really the "natural price" of bandwidth? 20 years ago I bought 1MHz computers, now I buy >1GHz computers. Today i buy 1Mbit connections, can I in 20 years buy >1GBit connections in the same way? I don't see why not...

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (2, Informative)

call-me-kenneth (1249496) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694716)

Come again?
  • DNA: 1951
  • Human genome: same thing; the sequencing was completed in 2001.
  • genetic medical treatments: not sure what you mean by that, but I'm not aware of any gene-based therapies in widespread use yet
  • dark matter: OK, given, first conjectured to account for the bizarre result in the late 90s that showed the expansion of spacetime is accelerating.
  • Hawking radiation: 1974.
  • quantum? Depending which bit you're talking about, originates between the wars. Feynmann and Murray Gell-Mann described quantum chromodynamics in the 60s.
Nothing new under the sun, my friend.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (4, Insightful)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 6 years ago | (#22696368)

Pie in the sky.

In 1903, man flew in a heavier than air craft for the first time. In 1969, man landed on the moon. Therefore, in 2001, man will have moon bases and be able to send a manned mission to Jupiter.

Sorry, it didn't work out like that.

Why not?

Because we haven't invented any new rocket fuels since the 60s, and conventional rocket fuels suck. All that Jetsons/Star Trek stuff was based on the theory that we would keep ramping up the curve at the same speed, but in reality, we hit a plateau and leveled off.

The same thing is already starting to happen to computers. Notice how the GHz race has slowed to a trickle? In 2000, Intel broke the GHz barrier with the Pentium III. Today, eight years later, I use a 2.1 GHz Core 2 Duo processor. Why is my chip "only" doing twice as many GHz? Because there's a brick wall and Intel is running up against it. The faster you go, the exponentially more heat you generate. Worse than that, no matter what cooling system you use, the fact is that 299,792,458 m/s / 1 cm = 29.9792458 GHz. That is, you can never get a signal from one side of a .5cm chip and back faster than 30 GHz without breaking the speed of light. So, it's not physically possible that for me to ever get a 30GHz Core 10 Quadro. It ain't gonna happen. Meanwhile quantum computers, while nice for some problems, do not offer generic speed ups for all problems. Quantum computers only aid in some, well-defined problems like factoring numbers. Not all algorithms benefit from the quantum effect. The number you suggested for quantum computers is basically from out of your ass. I think that if we are lucky, we'll see another 100x speed up of computers before we hit the plateau, but eventually they will plateau. I have no doubt of that.

Meanwhile, has science really been moving faster since the internet? QCD was invented before the internet. DNA was discovered and used for making insulin etc. before the internet. Dark matter was on the edge of the internet's coming into being, but dark matter is kind of just a mathematical kludge anyway. "Hey, our math doesn't work. So there must be more stuff here slowing things down (dark matter) and more energy there speeding things up (dark energy)." Our knowledge of dark matter and energy is very crude, almost like the view of the atom in Marie Curie's day.

In any event, the whole "singularity" movement strikes me as being the same eschatological nonsense that human beings have always believed. "OMG, a comet and an earthquake: it's the end of the world!!" No, it's not. For you personally, the end of the world will come in about 120 years max. (Aubrey de Grey is full of crap.) For the rest of the world, there's time enough for things to keep working themselves out. The Earth will keep orbiting the sun. Life will go on. AI researchers will continue to try to make a robot that can run around as well as a four year old. This too shall pass.

But not as small as you think (2, Informative)

Stephen Ma (163056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22697092)

That is, you can never get a signal from one side of a .5cm chip and back faster than 30 GHz without breaking the speed of light.

True.

So, it's not physically possible that for me to ever get a 30GHz Core 10 Quadro. It ain't gonna happen.

False. There is no rule that says a single processor has to be 0.5 cm in diameter. A processor 0.1 cm in diameter could clock at 150 GHz. Asynchronous logic boosts the effective clock rate even further.

Of course, these numbers are theoretical. In practice, whether they will be reached or exceeded will depend on many factors.

Re:But not as small as you think (2, Insightful)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 6 years ago | (#22697436)

Calling an asynchronous or subdivided chip "150GHz" is deeply misleading, since in a normal chip, the amount of work done in one cycle is proportionate to the number of gates it can potentially go through, which will naturally be smaller if one uses a subdivided chip. On the other hand, if you look at the Core 2 Duo, even though it only clocks at twice the GHz of a P3, it actually does much more work per cycle, since it has more transistors packed into a smaller space -- which is why Intel is deliberately underclocking the chips, in order to keep them from melting.

At any rate, I think we can both agree that there's a ways to go before we "run out of room at the bottom," but my suggestion is that the bottom may be closer than we think, perhaps even in the ballpark of just 100x current speeds (=speed doubling every 1.5 months for the next decade).

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (1)

olman (127310) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700700)



In 1903, man flew in a heavier than air craft for the first time. In 1969, man landed on the moon. Therefore, in 2001, man will have moon bases and be able to send a manned mission to Jupiter.

Sorry, it didn't work out like that.

Why not?

Because we haven't invented any new rocket fuels since the 60s, and conventional rocket fuels suck. All that Jetsons/Star Trek stuff was based on the theory that we would keep ramping up the curve at the same speed, but in reality, we hit a plateau and leveled off.


Actually, not true.

We DID invent new rocket fuels. It's just politically impossible to field any kind of nuclear impulsion engine or even it's less radical other nuclear engines. You want heavy lifting capability to orbit and solar system in 10 years?

Just throw some billions in nuclear drive applied research, but be vary of greenpeace hitmen.

Then again, materials science and modeling etc has advanced so radically since 60s that relatively trivial amounts of money can actually get you a chain of space stations [theregister.co.uk] .. I'm not saying that's a sensible idea or that it'll be commercially viable. But just for a few billion bucks, a space hotel of your own.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22696540)

Actually, I think the most important scientific discoveries took place in the first half the 20th century. The fundamentals of quantum mechanics were developed in the 30's and continually refined since then. DNA was discovered in the 50's, but the concept of genes and chromosomes have been around even longer.

The big change is that science is now a part of everyday life. I can go down to the store and buy a product with a laser in it. Most people have at least some inkling of what DNA is, which is better than a few decades ago. What used to be cutting-edge scientific research in the 19th century is now freshman lecture material.

Re:That drawing board is getting a bit small... (1)

RedOctober (10155) | more than 6 years ago | (#22697656)

"If you stop to think about how science has advanced in the last 20 years your brain, like mine, might explode. DNA, human genome, genetic medical treatments, dark matter, hawking radiation, quantum related developments... all leading up to 2012?"

You're right in other respects, but this is unfortunately not the case with fundamental physics. In "The Trouble with Physics", Lee Smolin makes the case that there hasn't been a single advance in fundamental physics worth getting excited over since the '70s, when the final touches were made to the Standard Model. Pretty much the only development on that front is String Theory, which has become fashionable but is struggling to make any testable predictions.

Consider that every decade in the 20th century prior to the '70s has added considerably to our knowledge of fundamental physics. Since then, we've had nothing but speculation, nothing for the physicists of this generation to be proud of. I agree: physics is in a sorry state. Although technology is advancing in giant leaps, our fundamental understanding of the universe is proceeding nowhere near as fast.

Obligatory Fart Jokes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22693588)

--- Below this line ---

I also have to squeeze my vacuum (4, Funny)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693608)

Too much junk in my hall closet.

Re:I also have to squeeze my vacuum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22694714)

how come I'm the first and ONLY reply to your +5 Funny but in reality 100% lame post saying "hahaha motherfucker".

  you didn't understand a word of the submission, forget clicking thru to the article, let's crack a joke why don't we.

ha

fuckin

ha

Mark My Words (0, Redundant)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693632)

The Singularity is near.

I repeat, the Singularity is near.

I hope you are all ready.

Re:Mark My Words (0)

Werthless5 (1116649) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693684)

We've been making singularities for years. Ever heard of particle smashers, like SLAC and the LHC? Oh boy, the LHC is going to be a regular black hole factory!

Re:Mark My Words (2, Interesting)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693696)

lol.. I just *hope* you are kidding.... and you know what I meant by Singularity.

Re:Mark My Words (3, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 6 years ago | (#22696290)

He's taking the piss out of you because it's the polite thing to do when a geek-rapture crazy comes out of the woodwork.

Re:Mark My Words (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22703968)

lol... Well the thing is, I think people take the definition of the Singularity too far. All it really claims is we can't possibly understand what comes afterwards. It doesn't say it's good, or bad, or anything. Just that the change is so drastic, so fast, that we can't sit here today and understand it. For example, today I can sit here and tell you that next year there will be an increase in processor power roughly proportionate to Moore's law. We can pretty much apply this to most advances of the forseeable future.

But what happens if someone discovers something that literally changes everything? What if it provides the ability for us to create technologies that today would seem like magic? And what if it happens in a very short time frame? That, my friend, would be the Singularity. Don't get confused, it's not crazy, it's entirely possible.

Re:Mark My Words (1)

Cairnarvon (901868) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693870)

The Singularity's been here since 1991, when the Internet became available to the world at large. This breakthrough doesn't have anything to do with it, though.

Re:Mark My Words (2, Insightful)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | more than 6 years ago | (#22695954)

Dude - humans *are* the Singularity.

meeting of the minds (5, Insightful)

slide-rule (153968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693660)

I can't help but be amused at the thought of God, Newton, and Einstein sitting together "up there, somewhere" looking down on this little science experiment, chuckling at how we having it all wrong, and then thinking, just to fsck with us, they'll go along with our theory for a little while. *POIT!* (vacuum disappears and reappears), to which they have a long, hearty, teary-eyed laugh at our expense and dare us to make *that* make sense. ;-)

Re:meeting of the minds (2, Insightful)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693844)

Interesting, but I can't help but thinking that that post is a bit of philosophical wanking. If the experiment is *not* wrong (few experiments are, though they may not show what the experimenter set out to show, or may be misinterpreted, etc.), what then? God, Newton, and Einstein disappear? That'd be a lark.

    I can't believe I just replied to that.

Re:meeting of the minds (2, Informative)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693912)

Newton certainly isn't up there, plagiarism is is bad mmmkay!
Einstin would still be arguing with god over weather he rolls dice
And god doesn't exist/care!

Re:meeting of the minds (1)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694956)

Einstin would still be arguing with god over weather he rolls dice
Well, to me the weather does seem to be a bit of a crap shoot most days.

Re:meeting of the minds (4, Interesting)

mother_of_recursion (1253462) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694970)

I can't help but be amused at the thought of how many people with undergraduate degrees in CS, having taken probably less than three college physics courses, are convinced they have any grasp of this phenomena; I have a BS in physics and it's way beyond my ken. But as for this line of reasoning, maybe a Douglas Adams quote is best, "Isn't it enough to see the garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too."

Re:meeting of the minds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22695568)

There ARE fairies at the bottom of my garden, squeezing their vacuum, but it only happens when I drink too much fermented nectar. Furthermore, they can't get any music out of that damned vacuum, it's not an accordian, by gad! Stupid fairies.

Re:meeting of the minds (0, Troll)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22695944)

I can't help but be amused at the thought of God, Newton, and Einstein sitting together "up there, somewhere" looking down on this little science experiment,"

Wrong. They would be looking up at us because they're burning in hell right now.

Quantum computers (1)

Werthless5 (1116649) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693664)

I don't see it happening in the near-future, but perhaps near the end of my life-time (I'm 20-something). And it won't be like the first computer revolution, with guys in their garages and basements screwing around with computer hardware. The first quantum computers will be only really useful for large Monte-Carlo projects (like the Earth Simulator) that require tons of computing power.

The problem then becomes building a quantum computer that is faster than the supercomputers of the time. The first quantum computer prototype won't just start out as a powerhouse. After we get the first quantum computer working, it may be up to a decade before we see one actually being used. 30-40 years later maybe we'll see quantum computers in the home, but we'll all be long dead by the time that happens.

As far as building a quantum computer goes, this is comparable to making a transistor. There's still a LONG way to go.

Re:Quantum computers (4, Insightful)

SeekerDarksteel (896422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694090)

I don't see it happening in the near-future, but perhaps near the end of my life-time (I'm 20-something). And it won't be like the first computer revolution, with guys in their garages and basements screwing around with computer hardware. The first quantum computers will be only really useful for large Monte-Carlo projects (like the Earth Simulator) that require tons of computing power.

Quantum computing is nigh worthless for Monte-Carlo. Yes, you can simulate a ton of inputs and get a ton of outputs in one run, but it all collapses into one waveform in the end anyway. Throw in the fact that Monte-Carlo simulations are classified as "embarrassingly" parallel and Monte-Carlo is the last thing you'll see on quantum computing.

The problem then becomes building a quantum computer that is faster than the supercomputers of the time. The first quantum computer prototype won't just start out as a powerhouse. After we get the first quantum computer working, it may be up to a decade before we see one actually being used.

The entire notion of faster or slower is thrown out the window with quantum computing. The power of a quantum computer is not limited by its speed, but the number of qubits. Furthermore, the first quantum computer prototype already exists. Indeed it is far from a powerhouse; it was used to factor the number 15. If we could expand the number of qubits arbitrarily we would have functional laboratory quantum computers, but it's our inability to increase the number of qubits because of decoherence and other physical limitations that prevents us from having useful quantum computers.

Re:Quantum computers (1)

bh_doc (930270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22697788)

Quantum computing is nigh worthless for Monte-Carlo.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the point of Monte-Carlo generally to come out with some single answer? Like an average, just as an example. Then why would it matter if it collapses into one wavefunction? With an appropriately constructed QC circuit, that wavefunction would represent your single answer; all you'd have to do is measure it.

Re:Quantum computers (1)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694312)

fortunately for us, the invention of quantum computers will happen simultaneously throughout the time-space (dis)continuum. So we'll get them at the same time as the future does. That's the really convenient thing about this whole quantum thingy. ;-P

Re:Quantum computers (1)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699020)

Why would quantum computers need to be in the home? Once we have multi-gigabit cellular WiFi, we can have all our processing and data storage done by Google's cloud. So Google buys a couple dozen Quantum boxes to offload math-heavy tasks from their cluster of 150GHz servers, and the whole country buys 12th-gen iPhones that fold out to a 19-in display with a full keyboard instead of computers.

Store a vacuum? (4, Funny)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693716)

I keep mine in the hall closet. What's the big deal?

Re:Store a vacuum? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22694704)

That depends. Is it an upright or canister vacuum?

Re:Store a vacuum? (1)

call-me-kenneth (1249496) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694726)

Hey, if they can retrieve a squeezed vacuum, can my love life have long to wait?? (Mom wants to know as she wants the basement back *rimshot*)

Re:Store a vacuum? (1)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | more than 6 years ago | (#22695298)

You should keep a close eye on your vacuum. Apparently nature hates it.

Cue video of increasing closet entropy equalizing your vacuum into your towels, spare toilet paper, fan, etc.

That would suck.

-b

Re:Store a vacuum? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22696340)

And I was squeezing mine the other day.







...to check if the bag was full.

Gas of Atoms (1)

rizole (666389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693718)

"

To stop light, researchers first shine an intense and continuous beam of laser light into a gas of atoms."

Did I miss a class? Are there gases made up of things that are not atoms?

Re:Gas of Atoms (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22693796)

Are there gases made up of things that are not atoms?

Yes. For the simplest example, the atmosphere is a gas of molecules, not atoms.

More generally, you can define a gas out of nearly any kind of particle. There's even such a thing as a "photon gas". [wikipedia.org]

Re:Gas of Atoms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22693828)

why is he being modded down?

Re:Gas of Atoms (1)

NotmyNick (1089709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22697610)

He wasn't. For some strange reason ACs start out at -1 now

Re:Gas of Atoms (1)

rizole (666389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694356)

Quite right...I was obviously partially awake during that lesson. I'm loathed to show my ignorance further but isn't a gas of atoms of necessity hydrogen?

Re:Gas of Atoms (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22695376)

No, IIRC all the noble gasses are monoatomic.

Re:Gas of Atoms (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693832)

There are gasses made up of molecules (You're breathing one now). Molecules are made up of atoms, sure, but the specifics imply that these are single-atom gasses.

Haven't read the article, don't plan to.

Re:Gas of Atoms (5, Informative)

pldd (1136557) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693856)

You can have gas made of molecules, a gas of photons, a gas of electrons, etc. As long as you have a large ensemble of free particles in a given volume you can call it a gas.

Hard to measure? (2, Funny)

martyb (196687) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693722)

Great line from the article:

Proving that the squeezed vacuum survived its confinement is tricky, as it's hard to measure nothing.

Hmmm. Hey! Maybe they should ask Frank Sinatra [lyricsandsongs.com] ? :)

This reminds me of the..... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693766)

....bags you store cloths and blankets in then hook your vacuum cleaner up to, sucking out all the air and squeezing the cloths and blankets down in size for storage.
Later unplugging the bag to restore the cloths and blankets to full size.

Re:This reminds me of the..... (1)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22697830)

That's a lot of words for saying "prior art"

/dev/null (1)

euice (953774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693814)

Well, how did they knew they stored nothing in there? And how did they prove they recovered the same nothing from the cloud as they have put into it? And did it take no space in the clouds "memory"?

That of course can be used in Quantum Computing, it's gonna be /dev/null!

Re:/dev/null (1)

euice (953774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693860)

Well, on second thought, I'ld like to as real questions:
Does that beam of squeezed light transport any energy at all, when the intensity is lowered to 0?
If not, does that mean you can transfer information without transfering energy?
If so, can you measure if someone is "receiving" photons of that beam by an energy loss at the sender?

The Information Universe Program or Programmer? (1)

FromTheAir (938543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693878)

I think there is going to be a huge shift in perception required one that is disturbing yet liberating before we understand more.

We live in an information universe, and the observable universe the product of a quantum computer that exists by default and was not created.

Some beings are simply programs being executed, and some, the self aware, are programmers.

Re:The Information Universe Program or Programmer? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22695496)

"Some beings are simply programs being executed, and some, the self aware, are programmers."

The self aware are simply subroutines with illusions of grandure, embrace the horror [cracked.com] .

There is no "Quantum Encryption" (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693892)

There are some possibilities to use quanta (?) as signal carriers, but no encryption is involved. The theory is that if you wiretap such a signal, then the original receiver will find out. So it could maybe be called "Quantum Wiretap Detection" or the like. But since this is a physical thing that relies on theoretical models that are typically not exact, it is not actually known whether this is really secure. I seem to remember that there are actually possibilities to liesten in, found in te last few months.

My personal conclusion is that alls this "Quantum " mainly serves as a way to get scientific funding and thet the probabilities of something really useful comming out of it are rather slim. Even "quantum computation" (name is right this time) may never be able to produce computational elements large enough to matter. Factoring 10 or even 100 is not impressice, considering that my very old pocket calculator could go up to 10^20.

Re:There is no "Quantum Encryption" (1)

Captain Segfault (686912) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694080)

Your old pocket calculator could factor 20 digit numbers?

In any event, the feasibility of large scale quantum computation is a prediction of QM. All we need to do is to build a system which decoheres less than 1-3% of the time that we can manipulate and we can correct the rest of the errors. We don't have to scale up /that/ much further than we already have.

Re:There is no "Quantum Encryption" (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694376)

Your old pocket calculator could factor 20 digit numbers?

It could. Its only about 65 bits....

In any event, the feasibility of large scale quantum computation is a prediction of QM. All we need to do is to build a system which decoheres less than 1-3% of the time that we can manipulate and we can correct the rest of the errors. We don't have to scale up /that/ much further than we already have.

My impression was that there are several orders of magnitude still missing for any useful application and that it is unclear whether entanglement can be generated at all at that size. Got any current reference?

Re:There is no "Quantum Encryption" (4, Informative)

SeekerDarksteel (896422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694112)

There are some possibilities to use quanta (?) as signal carriers, but no encryption is involved. The theory is that if you wiretap such a signal, then the original receiver will find out. So it could maybe be called "Quantum Wiretap Detection" or the like. But since this is a physical thing that relies on theoretical models that are typically not exact, it is not actually known whether this is really secure. I seem to remember that there are actually possibilities to liesten in, found in te last few months.

The reason for the encryption in the name is that the idea is to exchange a private key over the secure (but very slow) channel, which will then enable encryption over an insecure channel. So you're correct that the name is misleading. To be more accurate, it should be called quantum key exchange, not quantum encryption.

Re:There is no "Quantum Encryption" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22695714)

Adhering to a very simple definition of encryption, which is that encryption is simply exchangeing a signal in a format that only sender and receiver understands, there can be no such thing as quantum encryption, since its widely known that noone understands quantum theory.

It's called Quantum Key Distribution, dingleberry! (1)

Cordath (581672) | more than 6 years ago | (#22698560)

"Quantum Key Distribution" (QKD for short) is the term you're looking for, and it does exactly what it says. There are already commercial QKD systems on the market and their primary application is in closely spaced bank networks. QKD isn't sci-fi. It's being used right now. And yes, key distribution *is* encryption. In it's simplest, most secure, and most inefficient form, encryption involves simply XOR'ing the message with a key of the same bit length. (i.e. A One time PAD) Very few encryption systems utilize a one-time PAD though, since it's obviously very wasteful. Still, you *could* use quantum key in that manner if you really wanted to.

One of the biggest strengths, and weaknesses, of QKD is that it is impossible to deterministically measure and replicate a photon. (Google the "no cloning theorem" if you're interested.) This means that an eavesdropper can't cut into a QKD line and listen in without changing it's content in a way that those using it can detect. The detection of an eavesdropper, however, is not random. It's a certainty that arises from the statistics. The downside to all this is that QKD currently only works when the two parties involved are close enough to send photons to each other directly. This limits current QKD systems to a practical distance of approximately 100 km. (This is primarily due to loss in fibre.)

There is, of course, a workaround: Quantum repeater stations. These are somewhat deceptively named because they don't actually repeat a quantum state. What they do is create a chain of entanglement that ultimately winds up with two widely separated parties (and noone else, including the repeaters) sharing entangled photon pairs that can be used to set up a key. Secure QKD can take place even if the repeaters aren't trusted. I won't bore you with the specifics. In fact, I'm going to wave my hands at you and just make a claim, because explaining it would take a very long time. To wit, quantum repeaters will never allow for communication over longer distances than current QKD schemes unless they incorporate some form of quantum memory. Quantum memory is one of the key ingredients for quantum encryption over distances long enough to be really useful.

The research mentioned in this article is interesting, but it doesn't appear to be at a stage that is practically useful. For quantum memory to be useful, it has to store light (vacuum states) on an order of milliseconds or longer and have a storage/recall rate of better than 50%, and it doesn't look like they're there yet. Still, quantum memory is *the* critical stumbling block in a lot of applications, so it's very exciting to see work being done on it. I fully expect that the first practical quantum memory units are going to win their makers a big fat Nobel prize.

mod do38 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22693976)

OpenBSD wan4er Theo

Okay, maybe this is a stupid question... (1)

eataTREE (7407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22693994)

...but I always was taught that a vacuum is what you have when you don't have anything. Given that, how the fsck do you store one, or for that matter retrieve it later?

"Now I pump the air back into the bell jar. Amazingly, the vacuum is gone! I have stored it in the ninth dimension of Zardoz, and can retrieve it when I pump the air back out again. Cower before my scientific prowess, fools!"

Heh. (1)

BCSWowbagger (1230826) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694422)

I thought the headline said "Pharmacists Store, Retrieve a 'Squeezed Vacuum'." Now that'd be a story.

Don't squeeze the vacuum! (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22695500)

Paging Mr. Whipple.

Quantum Encryption--not needed (2, Interesting)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694822)

With the Internet why is Quantum Encryption needed?

If you have an algorithm that can be run on 2 computers separated by distance, you can stream IP packets into several different strands that are relayed through several P2P servers just to confuse things and then reassembled at the destination machine. You could even add in false information that would be filtered out. In fact, a youtube video received by both computers could be used as the "carrier" the same way a one-time use cipher pad was used in the old days.

When messages can be sent in chunks at electron speeds via different routes, I do not see how it is even theoretically possible to decrypt them. You can't listen to every bit of traffic, there is simply too much of it.

Re:Quantum Encryption--not needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22696048)

While you can try and send the chunks by different routes, with regular internet connections there will always be a single point at the sending and receiving ISP that they will have to go through. You might now consider multiple ISPs, but if the attacker can monitor traffic at multiple ISPs, then piecing together the traffic from a single computer won't be difficult. With other communication channels you will likely encounter similar bottlenecks as well.

So, while it would be more difficult to decrypt, it is still theoretically possible.

Re:Quantum Encryption--not needed (1)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 6 years ago | (#22697688)

It really doesn't matter how strong the encryption is, people will STILL be using the password "1234".

Great! (1)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 6 years ago | (#22694930)

At the very least they will help to illuminate the boundary between quantum and classical realms
Time to re-vamp that stale old thought-experiment, then. Here kitty kitty kitty!

How about Squeezing a Non-Vaccum? (1)

AJ Mexico (732501) | more than 6 years ago | (#22696266)

If you can make a matter-squeezer out of a broken remote control with no batteries, then you'll really have something. (John Varley's Red Thunder).

Uncertain singnal? (1)

spaceman375 (780812) | more than 6 years ago | (#22696512)

This implies that one can impose a signal on the heisenberg uncertancy of a quantum system. You can then measure the position and velocity of a given particle with greater precision than earlier theories claim is possible. This accuracy is gained at the expense of greater uncertainty at other points in time just prior to and after the point at which one measures the given property.
I see no conflict, just a clever "trick" that a well designed experiment could take advantage of. Sounds to me like a challenge to be the first to publish greater than heisenberg uncertancy resolution measurements of a hydrogen atom at various speeds beyond simple rest state. Perhaps we can even get quark sized resolution while looking at a proton. Now THAT would be cool

Boundary of QM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22698250)

At the very least they will help to illuminate the boundary between quantum and classical realms.

Sorry but what boundary between quantum and classical realms, I'm pretty sure QM is right and Classical systems are just approximations.

Does nature abhor a vacuum? (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699622)

I a;ways thought nature abhorred a vacuum. Perhaps nature just abhors nothing after all.

As for matters of "nothingness" (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700618)

...as it's hard to measure nothing.
Ask those who insist on printing unsound money.

What's with the "quantum encryption" anyway? (1)

real gumby (11516) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702592)

So how come anything at the microscale "might lead to advances in quantum encryption" just like any nanoscale work "might lead to new sources of energy", any genomic work "might lead to a cure for cancer" etc? After all, nobody said in in the 1940s, "this invention of the 'transistor' could lead to kids posting videos of their pranks for everyone world wide to view?"

How about just doing pure science for science's sake? Especially on a News for Nerds site?

If they need funding they should indicate that these microvacuums make a good alternative to waterboarding for child terrorists and pornographers.
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