The Frontier of Computing

The BBC has an interesting piece on the state of quantum computers.

For those of you who don’t know, quantum computers offer to harness the power of the strange ‘magic’ properties of quantum mechanics, and bring about some seriously powerful computing. For example, unlike a traditional binary computer where a switch is either on or off, i.e. a 1 or a 0, a quantum computer can use superposition to be on or off, plus on and off.

The concepts and mechanics of a quantum computer are known in theory, but putting them into practice is proving difficult. The quantum effects of the quantum computer are highly sensitive to interference and are unpredictable which currently results in lots of error. If this issue can be sorted out, then it’s off to the races. There are, as the article discusses, several companies taking different approaches to the problem. IBM for example, is cooling the quantum bits, or qubits, that run the computer down to almost absolute zero to stabilise them.

Moore’s Law, which states that computing power will double, get twice as energy efficient, and half the size, every two years, is finally reaching its limits.  Quantum computing would blow the lid off that law and no doubt change the world as we know it.

Mastering quantum computing will bring serious and fast technological breakthroughs – including no doubt, the long theorised ‘singularity‘.

It’s pretty exciting stuff and an area to keep an eye on!

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ISS Sabotaged?

The International Space Station has a hole in it. Last week after noticing a drop in pressure inside the station, the official statement was that a meteorite had caused the hole.

Now the story has changed. Apparently, the hole was done with a drill, either accidentally or on purpose, either on Earth or in space. 

As you can see in the picture, there are marks from a sliding drill, so they think that it could just have been a bungling technician who slipped and made the hole and glued it up without telling anyone, and now the epoxy has come lose.

At any rate, the astronauts have fixed it temporarily with epoxy, so they are safe for now. If they hadn’t caught it, they would have run out of air in 18 hours!

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