New cats in quantum town

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

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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