Space 1999 Eagle Transporter Forum

Go Back   Space 1999 Eagle Transporter Forum > Deep Space Tracking Station > A Matter of Balance



Reply Bookmark and Share
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 25-11-2009, 09:07 AM   #1
Communications Officer
eaglewingone's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Los Angeles,CA
Posts: 1,206
Default First programmable quantum computer created

Using a few ultracold ions, intense lasers and some electrodes, researchers have built the first programmable quantum computer. The new system, described in a paper to be published in Nature Physics, flexed its versatility by performing 160 randomly chosen processing routines.

Earlier versions of quantum computers have been largely restricted to a narrow window of specific tasks. To be more generally useful, a quantum computer should be programmable, in the same way that a classical computer must be able to run many different programs on a single piece of machinery.

The new study is “a powerful demonstration of the technological advances towards producing a real-world quantum computer,” says quantum physicist Winfried Hensinger of the University of Sussex in Brighton, England.

Researchers led by David Hanneke of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo., based their quantum computer on two beryllium ions chilled to just above absolute zero. These ions, trapped by a magnetic field on a gold-plated aluminum chip, formed the quantum bits, or qubits, analogous to the bits in regular computers represented by 0s and 1s. Short laser bursts manipulated the beryllium ions to perform the processing operations, while nearby magnesium ions kept the beryllium ions cool and still.

Hanneke and colleagues programmed the computer to do operations on a single beryllium ion and on both of the beryllium ions together. In the quantum world, a single qubit can represent a mixture of 0 and 1 simultaneously, a state called a superposition. A laser pulse operation could change the composition of the mixture within the qubit, tipping the scales to make the qubit more likely to become a 1 when measured.

Both of the qubits together could be entangled, a situation where the two qubits are intimately linked, and what happens to one seems to affect the fate of the other. Different combinations of one- and two-qubit operations made up various programs. “We put all these pieces together and asked, what can we do with the circuit?” Hanneke says.

Hanneke and colleagues chose 160 programs for the quantum computer to run. “We picked them, quite literally, at random,” Hanneke says. “We really wanted to sample all possible operations.”

The researchers ran each program 900 times. On average, the quantum computer operated accurately 79 percent of the time, the team reported in their paper, which was published online November 15. “Getting this kind of control over a quantum system is really interesting from a physics perspective,” Hanneke says.

Earlier research has estimated that to be useful, a quantum computer must operate accurately 99.99 percent of the time. Hanneke says that with stronger lasers and other refinements, the system’s fidelity may be improved.

Experimental physicist Boris Blinov says that one of the most exciting things about the new study is that the quantum computer may be scaled up. “What’s most impressive and important is that they did it in the way that can be applied to a larger-scale system,” says Blinov, of the University of Washington in Seattle. “The very same techniques they’ve used for two qubits can be applied to much larger systems.”
eaglewingone is off duty   Bookmark and Share Reply With Quote
Old 29-11-2009, 06:18 PM   #2
Conrad Turner
Communications Officer
Conrad Turner's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Duxford, Cambs
Posts: 1,438

Wake me up when they can play "World of Warcraft" on it, there's a good chap!

Conrad Turner is off duty   Bookmark and Share Reply With Quote
Old 30-11-2009, 04:38 PM   #3
Gerry Anderson Fan
Geological Technician
Gerry Anderson Fan's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Wallasey , Merseyside
Posts: 114

Really interesting article !
Gerry Anderson Fan is off duty   Bookmark and Share Reply With Quote
Old 30-11-2009, 05:28 PM   #4
Communications Officer
pjskeldon's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Oxfordshire, UK
Posts: 752

I'm probably being a bit dim here - what's the point of a computer that's not 100% accurate?

And also - if there are many permutations of a result, how do you pick the right answer when you ask a question that you don't already know the answer to.

I must say, I'm not at all sure these quantum computers have a real-world contribution to make, other than keeping leading edge scientists in funds for years! If the first QC produces the answer 42, I'll know it's all a front.

pjskeldon is off duty   Bookmark and Share Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

All times are GMT. The time now is 04:42 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
This site and contents are copyright © Bernard Walsh 2010 all rights reserved, no reproduction of material in any form without written permission email: