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Experts Hail Quantum Computer Memory Stability Breakthrough 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the long-enough-to-play-some-quake-3 dept.
cold fjord writes "The BBC reports, 'A fragile quantum memory state has been held stable at room temperature for a "world record" 39 minutes — overcoming a key barrier to ultrafast computers. 'Qubits' of information encoded in a silicon system persisted for almost 100 times longer than ever before. ... "This opens the possibility of truly long-term storage of quantum information at room temperature," said Prof Thewalt ... unofficially, the previous best for a solid state system was 25 seconds at room temperature, or three minutes under cryogenic conditions. ... What's more, they found they could manipulate the qubits as the temperature of the system rose and fell back towards absolute zero. At cryogenic temperatures, their quantum memory system remained coherent for three hours. "Having such robust, as well as long-lived, qubits could prove very helpful for anyone trying to build a quantum computer," said co-author Stephanie Simmons of Oxford University's department of materials. ... "We've managed to identify a system that seems to have basically no noise." However she cautions there are still many hurdles to overcome before large-scale quantum computations can be performed. ... "This result represents an important step towards realizing quantum devices," said David Awschalom, professor in Spintronics and Quantum Information, at the University of Chicago. "However, a number of intriguing challenges still remain." — Abstract for the paywalled academic paper."
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Experts Hail Quantum Computer Memory Stability Breakthrough

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  • by TempeNerd (410268) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:16PM (#45437871)

    I am just amazed at the technology that is going into making this new qubit.

    First off it is "...built with a highly purified form of silicon" and one qubit requires "... the spins of the 10 billion or so phosphorus ions..."

    Now THAT is engineering!

    • by TheSync (5291)

      The problem is that I don't think anyone has ever built a quantum gate with phosphorus doped silicon...

  • First - while quantum computing may well make certain forms of encryption less trustworthy, it will also introduce new forms of encryption which are at least as trustworthy as the preceding.

    Second - quantum computing is only just now barely becoming a tantalizing possibility under laboratory conditions which are unlikely to ever translate well to consumer/commodity hardware or mass production. In fact, it seems likely to remain the domain of "three-letter agencies" (and universities and large enterprises

    • Another observation (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Okian Warrior (537106) on Friday November 15, 2013 @07:35PM (#45439423) Homepage Journal

      We are also testing the boundaries of the physical universe in a completely new realm.

      The number of states in a quantum-entangled set of particles goes exponentially with the number of particles. For 10 particles (entangled) it takes 2^10 states for the universe to represent the possible outcomes. For 1,000 entangled particles, the number of states is 2^1000.

      The number of particles in the entire universe is only about 2^80.

      Managing 1,000 entangled particles would require the universe to keep track of a staggering amount of information. Does the underlying machinery have information-space this big? No one knows.

      For the first time, we can measure the boundaries of the physical mechanism that underlies the universe in a completely different realm: information capacity. This is analogous to a program probing the limits of RAM memory by seeing how much it can allocate.

      Here's hoping that we don't find a buffer overflow.

  • Windows (Score:5, Funny)

    by TVDinner (1067340) on Friday November 15, 2013 @07:32PM (#45439393)
    39 minutes.....that's long enough to run Windows between BSODs
  • Quantum entanglement - really??? Can a cat be alive and dead at the same time? Huh???
    Could all this be non-science and a misinterpretation of statistical math that doesn't really describe reality?
    The underpinning of quantum computing is the idea that a qubit has the ability to be in more than one state simultaneously. This is simply illogical.
    Don't shrug it off and say "things work counter-intuitively at the subatomic level"; that's a philosophical cop out and is not science.
    The quantum is a profound re
    • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
      Your point that the word "quantum" originally referred to the discretized nature of energy states is true but unhelpful. Words have distinct meanings apart from their etymology. Don't think that because scientists started using a word because of it having one Greek root doesn't mean they cannot use the word in a more general context when they are clear about what they mean.

      The underpinning of quantum computing is the idea that a qubit has the ability to be in more than one state simultaneously. This is simply illogical. Don't shrug it off and say "things work counter-intuitively at the subatomic level"; that's a philosophical cop out and is not science.

      Actually, if anything, this is a biological/psychological statement. You are confusing logic with intuition. Humans evolved on the mediu

      • "if you agree that these statistics do describe accurately what results to get"
        Yep, I agree completely and that's why I say that statistical formulas can be useful for large numbers of entities. But for a single particle - nope - not the right tool. And herein lies the core the argument - Bohr vs. Einstein
        My position is that Einstein was right, God does not play dice and the universe is fully deterministic. Unfortunately the mathematical model to describe a deterministic universe would need to take into c
        • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
          But we have gotten quantum mechanics to work well on single particles. There have been many experiments involving individual electrons or individual photons (fewer with photons since it is very difficult to send out a single photon). Moreover, this actually misses what quantum computers rely on: they aren't relying on the behavior of the individual particle as much as on the entangled state, exactly where you seem to think that the statistics works well. You may also want to look into Boson Sampling http: [scottaaronson.com]
          • You make two good points.
            "That you can "get away" with something isn't a reason to do it." I made a poor choice of words. The experiment described in TFA is actually very cool (pun intended). What I'm trying to say is that the people who have a lot at stake in this field are afraid to rock the boat by expressing their misgivings about some of the underpinnings of quantum computing. I'm not trying to win a nobel prize here or yell fire in a theater, my aim is to gain a better understanding of reality and s
            • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
              On the contrary, if you talk to the people who are doing this, many of them acknowledge that something might not work, and they are eager for that because it would be a glimpse of new physics. At this point, we know that the Standard Model isn't all there is, but we don't know exactly where it breaks down. If we can set up what should be fully functioning quantum computers and then they don't do what we want, that will be Nobel Prize level discoveries by itself. As to your last bit, I don't know what you me

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