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

And Terry Pratchett to spice things up.


  • 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