Moore’s Law states that approximately every two years, the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit doubles. This has held true for the last 50 years. But there will come a point one day when physics puts a stop to that. Eventually the boundaries of atomic scale will limit transistor density. However, a new breakthrough in the field of quantum computing may provide hope for future advances. Until now, a quantum computing device had to be designed for one, and only one, operation. But scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have constructed the first programmable quantum processor.
Quantum processing units are fundamentally different in a number of ways. First, where a regular bit can be only 1 or 0, a quantum bit (or qubit) only assumes a value of 1 or 0 when it is observed. Additionally, Quantum computers aren’t bound by Boolean operators like ‘and, ‘or’ and ‘not’. Finally, two qubits can be “entangled”, meaning they will always have the same value when observed, even if separated.
The NIST computer consists of two quantum gates, one single qubit gate and an entangled two qubit gate. The gates utilized two beryllium ions stimulated with UV lasers to represent operations. The test programs run came back with 79% correct results. Certainly not perfect, but a huge step forward. You won’t be dropping one of these into a socket on your motherboard anytime soon, but maybe someday.
We've been hearing about optical computing and quantum computers for some time now, but for the most part, it's been theoretical talk and 'gee-whiz wouldn't that be cool?' chatter. No longer the case, an optical computer has performed its first ever calculation.
The calculation in question consisted of finding the prime factors of 15. It did this by coupling four photons into and out of the chip using optical fibres. The photons carried the input for the calculation and then implemented a quantum program called Shor's algorithm to complete and output the answer (3 and 5, if you're playing along at home). That might not sound very impressive, but it marks a significant step towards creating a quantum computer.
"This task could be done much faster by any school kid, but this is a really important proof-of-principle demonstration," said PhD student Alberto Politi from the University of Bristol.
While we’re very aware of Wolf Blitzer’s use of holograms in this last election, the Army is looking to make his attempt seem foolish. Recently the Army has gotten themselves in deep with some futuristic technology that could lead to quantum computing, holograms and even the ability to hunt evil in Azeroth.
Dr. John Parmentola, the Director of Research and Laboratory Management with the Army’s science and technology office said that they’re working on turning “science fiction into reality.” They’re doing so by creating holographic images that are supposedly photorealistic. They’ve even got one lined up to be the greeter at next month’s Army Science Conference.
They’re doing so by using what they’re calling “quantum ghost imaging.” This is a process where images are rendered by pairing photons that do not reflect or bounce off an object, but off of other protons that have.
Using this technology, they’re hoping to create realistic looking and acting human beings. “I actually interact with virtual humans in terms of asking them questions and they’re responding,” said Parmentola.
And as it turns out, their means of testing out the virtual humans is through World of Warcraft. “We want to use the massively multi-player online game as an experimental laboratory to see if they’re good enough to convince humans that they’re actually human,” stated Parmentola.