Quantum-resilient security

Turbulence, Jupiter and poetry

In the news

Microsoft’s hiring spree: Qualcomm’s former engineering leadership team developing a chip to act as a controller in its quantum computing system.

Physics

A stunning profile of Dr. Margaret Kivelson and “one of the most fundamental discoveries ever in planetary science”.

Beautiful long piece on turbulence, and all the puzzles it has inspired:“physicists still don’t agree on how to define it. It’s not quite as bad as “I know it when I see it,” but it’s not the best defined idea in physics, either.”

Paul Romer, Nobel Laureate in Economics, wrote this essay three years ago: beautiful meditation on why economists should think like physicists. “Abstraction means that you strip away inessential detail. Specificity means that you take very seriously the things that remain.

Quantum computing

Urmila Mahadev’s interactive protocol answers: how do you know whether a quantum computer has done anything quantum at all?

Planning for a quantum-resilient cybersecurity infrastructure needs to start now. Quantum Key Distribution primer.

One final thought

Explaining quantum physics in one poem. I challenge you to write a short poem about quantum computing or physics by Friday. Please send it over. We’ll exchange notes.

Visualizing atomic entanglement

Efforts to make physics and quantum computing accessible for many are underway, it seems

In the news

Physics Nobel Prize was the story of the week for many following the field. Arthur Ashkin took half of the prize for inventing “optical tweezers,” while Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland split the other half for their work on high-intensity ultra-short laser pulses. (Curiously, until recently, Wikipedia denied publishing a page about Donna Strickland because of a lack of coverage. Boo!)

BlackBerry announces adding ‘quantum-resistant’ security methods to its cybersecurity toolkit. “By adding the quantum-resistant code signing server to our cybersecurity tools, we will be able to address a major security concern for industries that rely on assets that will be in use for a long time.”

Physics

Visualizing various forms of atomic entanglement, in accessible ways. Lovely proposition.

The physics of “active wetting” may hold a clue to understanding how cancer spreads.

Quantum computing

D-Wave opens access to 2000+ qubit machine. Enter Leap. Over the last decade, the team has been working with early users not only on science, but also on building layers of abstractions that provide wide access to technology, no matter your proficiency. “You don’t need to learn machine instructions for quantum computers; all that access to those instructions, post processing techniques, control over their quantum annealing process, those are all things our users over the years have requested when they’re getting into lower-level work in materials or performance tuning, for example.” It’s about “customer advantage.”

What happens when researchers have access to quantum processors through the cloud? They, for example, simulate major biological processes. That’s, at least, what an international group of scientists did: they created a quantum algorithm that replicates the processes of Darwinian evolution, and simulated all major events over lifespan. One qubit represented the individual’s genotype, the other its phenotype.

One final thought

Marie Curie was the first. Donna Strickland is the third. Do you know who was the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics?

Physics as a way of thinking

...and escaping the apparent chaos that surrounds us

Welcome to issue #3. This one arrives late; changing time zones messes things up. In #3 you will find a mix of short news bits, and some longer pieces. My favorite is the 1936 essay in the Physics section. Such a great morning coffee read.

In the news…

Ford signs a $100k contract with NASA to use Agency’s D-Wave2000Q quantum annealer to address optimization challenges in autonomous driving.

UK-Singapore collaborate to build and launch a quantum-encrypted satellite link by the end of 2021.

Former Rigetti employee’s startup raises $1.5m to build quantum-based integrated circuits.

Quantum computing

Physicist Seth Lloyd pitched quantum internet browser to Google’s founders in 2012. He was turned down. But the foundational idea on which Quoogle project rests, quantum random access memory (qRAM), is still an intriguing one, and leaves us pondering: what will qRAM actually look like?

A new approach to measuring the state of qubits in a computer “replaces the need for a cryogenic amplifier, and could be extended toward eliminating much of the required room-temperature hardware”.

Physics

A stunning 1936 essay about the nature of physical thinking & its influence across disciplines

Starting with this picture we may trace the history of physical science as the history of the human mind adjusting itself by an infinite series of steps to the physical world, assimilating here a bit and there a bit of material and ever trying to escape the apparent chaos which surrounds it.

Quantum atmosphere, “a thin aura that surrounds the material” invite novel outlooks in exploring quantum properties of materials. “Those properties can be extraordinary. Certain materials act like their own universes with their own physical laws, as if comprising what’s recently been called a materials multiverse.”


A university student attending lectures on general relativity in the morning and others on quantum mechanics in the afternoon might be forgiven for thinking that his professors are fools, or have neglected to communicate with each other for at least a century.
— Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

New cats in quantum town

A physicist calls it "a whole new level of weirdness"

This is the second issue of Entangled newsletter, thanks for subscribing. Don’t hesitate to share with your colleagues.

Also, all feedback is very welcome. Thanks to those who offered it last week, inspiring some changes in this issue.

In the news…

Political games Tomorrow (Monday) the Office of Science and Technology gets various stakeholders together to discuss developments in QC, racing to get quantum strategy adopted before the midterm election.

& China breathing down the neck Elsa Kania and John Castello published a report outlining China’s quantum progress and ambition: their research is grounded in a national vision, substantial investments, and tight cooperation between the military and the private sector, as outlined in this summary. Alibaba had some interesting announcements this week, including its first AI chip, and didn’t miss to make the US even more nervous by boasting about their quantum prowess.

Not convinced Chair of the UK’s House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is not happy with a quarter billion cut to the initially proposed £338m budget for nation’s quantum research capacity-building.

Physics

“I think this is a whole new level of weirdness” — words used by Matthew Leifer, a theoretical physicist at Chapman University, to describe a new twist to Erwin Schrödinger’s ‘cat experiment’. ‘New cats in town’ thought experiment includes several players whose interpretations of a particular event differ, pointing at an inconsistent interpretation of reality.

Talking about weirdness, both chicken and the egg can come first in quantum physics. It’s all about the indefinite causal order.

How long does a quantum jump take?

Quantum computing

I almost didn’t include this story — the headline didn’t sell it — but this interview with Kenneth Brown, Duke University’s engineer in charge of a $15 million project to create the first practical quantum computer, is quite interesting.

…I think people don’t think about all the ways that molecular design impacts materials — from boring things like water bottles to fancy things like specific new medicines. So what’s interesting is if the quantum computer fulfills its promise to efficiently and accurately calculate those molecular properties, that could really change the materials and medicines we see in the future.

The master of security, Bruce Schneier, writes about the opportune futures for cryptography and quantum computing with a tone of irony. Great post. “Maybe the whole idea of number theory­-based encryption, which is what our modern public-key systems are, is a temporary detour based on our incomplete model of computing. Now that our model has expanded to include quantum computing, we might end up back to where we were in the late 1970s and early 1980s: symmetric cryptography, code-based cryptography, Merkle hash signatures. That would be both amusing and ironic.”


Perhaps death represents the severing of the living organism's connection with the orderly quantum realm, leaving it powerless to resist the randomizing forces of thermodynamics.
— Jim Al-Khalili, Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology

Demons, novel state of matter, US quantum workforce & more

And Terry Pratchett to spice things up.

Physics

  • Maxwell’s Demon—a 19th century thought experiment which aimed to prove that the second law of thermodynamics could hypothetically be violated—was now shown not to violate it. This detailed overview by TNW tells why this is so important:

That makes this a promising option for building qubits. It's a challenge to use neutral atoms for quantum computing, because their lack of charge means it's hard to get them to interact sufficiently to become entangled. That's typically achieved by flipping the state of one qubit depending on the state of a second qubit via a quantum version of a NOT gate.

  • Prospects of a theory which could unify Einstein’s general relativity and quantum mechanics is always exciting. This creative experiment confirmed that quantum mechanics allows events to occur with no definite causal order.

  • Novel quantum state of matter. Is there something other than solid, liquid and gas? There are some ideas, but more works needs to be done.

Quantum computing

With today's technology, one can design and fabricate materials with electromagnetic properties that are almost arbitrary. For example, one can design and fabricate an invisibility cloak that can conceal little things from radar, or one can create a medium where the light bends backwards. But so far all of this was done with classical light. What we show here is how to harness the superb abilities of artificial nano-designed materials to generate and control quantum light.

Business & workforce

  • The US passed the National Quantum Initiative Act, which is supposed to establish a federal program to release $1.27bn to help fund several centers for training in the field. This is also an attempt to compete with China, where the government is investing gobs of money into the field (actual figure unknown), and at least $10bn into the world’s largest quantum research facility in Hefei.

  • All eyes are at quantum in the cloud, and big things are expected from Rigetti. Here’s why.

    With this combination of hardware and cloud services, Rigetti is aiming to enable its users to finally produce “quantum advantage”—in other words, a process for a quantum computer that allows it to perform a computing task faster than a traditional computer, less expensively, or both.


    In fact, the mere act of opening the box will determine the state of the
    cat, although in this case there were three determinate states the cat
    could be in: these being Alive, Dead, and Bloody Furious.

    —Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

Loading more posts…