Researchers demo new method of creating quantum logic

A pair of research teams at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and Harvard University have demonstrated a new type of quantum logic gate and switch that could form the basis of quantum computers, according to this report at Popular Mechanics.

The big advance, it seems, is establishing a reliable way to put a rubidium atom into the mind-bending state of superposition, where it is both "on" and "off." Not only that, but the researchers have managed to create a mechanism for propagating this state to photons and having them share their state in common via quantum entanglement. These mechanisms could someday form the basis for a quantum computer, although scaling these things up to a sufficiently large scale is well beyond our current capabilities.

It’s about at this point that my hillbilly-descended brain begins to shudder and emit steam. For further understanding and/or mental strain, try reading your way through the Wikipedia entry on quantum computing. It answers the strange but crucial question of how one might take advantage of a system built on non-deterministic quantum properties: using a whole new type of quantum algorithm. That oughta make programming interesting, and hey, the answer you get back has only a probability of being correct. Still, for many purposes (including notably the simulation of quantum systems in nature), quantum computers have the potential to offer massive speed improvements over traditional systems.

Perhaps computer science might one day explain why I am in a constant state of both wanting and not wanting Taco Bell and why that superposition gets collapsed at 2AM after a couple of beers.

Comments closed
    • willyolio
    • 9 years ago

    ask NASA and Google, they’ve already bought some. who the hell knows that they’re using them for.

    • Antias
    • 9 years ago

    Thanks a lot mate…
    i followed your link, and read the article, went down a few more linked paths frrom there…
    and 2 1/2 hours later my head hurts (in a good way) and i’m in trouble from the other half for not cooking tonight..
    Looks like pizza night to me…

    • NeelyCam
    • 9 years ago

    Bacon didn’t survive the franchise wars

    • davidbowser
    • 9 years ago

    When I have a flash of Sandra Bullock saying, “I licked his ass!”

    I do something completely different…

    • Amazing Mr. X
    • 9 years ago

    From what I understand, a Quantum Computer just has more bit states than a standard Binary Computer. So while a single binary bit can only be on and off, zero or one, a quantum computer can be something like 5 or 6. As far as compatibility goes, the bits inside a quantum computer still go on and off, so it’ll work fine with x86-64, ARM, PowerPC, and anything else as long as the instructions are properly implemented. However, more advanced implementations of code combined with new instruction sets can really condense some complex math into an impossibly small number of instructions. A quantum computer could return addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, averaging, logarithmic functions, complex transformations, and a virtually unlimited amount of other things into the space we can currently only hold a zero or a one.

    The real complexity here is in the style of the instructions, and the standardization of the chip’s logic. While most programmers would probably rather see more sophisticated math arise from quantum computers, a lot of people in the field of AI research want to see these sorts of chips used to try and randomize outcomes. Generally speaking, these days, AI programmers on the bleeding edge associate the closest thing to computerized intelligence to be the ability to self generate code through sheer randomization, and while several languages do this fairly well in x86-64, none of them do it quickly enough to see good results. The idea here being, if they can randomize a computer’s output through a quantum computer they might be able to achieve speeds fast enough to produce more good random code than bad random code. They consider this to be akin to making a computer think.

    Personally, I don’t agree with the AI guys in the slightest here. Adding more speed to randomness that currently only produces junk is not something I see leading to some massive breakthrough in AI programming. I think being able to do more solid math without trudging through instructions brute-force style in a modern Intel or AMD chip is a much more valuable end. However, the AI programmers keep pushing this, so it’s up in the air at this point.

    The real reason we haven’t seen any quantum computers yet arrive in any practical way is because nobody can come to any practical agreement about how we intend to use them. So for now we just have to sit, wait, and discuss it.

    But, yeah, it’s 1 and 0 versus 1, 0, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… and onwards to an arbitrary technically limited stopping point. This article seems to be discussing methods for possibly building these chips in the distant future. Using quantum entanglement for this would be a bit strange though, as I always viewed quantum entanglement to be a pie-in-the-sky solution to latency more than anything else. I always thought we’d see communications equipment go in this direction before processors. But hey, I’m not a chip designer, so what do I know?

    • Wirko
    • 9 years ago

    The good thing is that you can now try quantum computing at home.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 9 years ago


    How would one write a programming language that would work on a quantum computer? And design a quantum computer with backward compatibility for x86 and ARM?

    On a side note, here’s an example of classic vs quantum, at least to my understanding:

    Classic: Do you want a Taco Bell food, yes or no?

    Quantum: Do you want a Taco Bell food, yes, no, mostly yes, mostly no, somewhat yes, somewhat no, maybe, (insert 505 other possible options)?

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 9 years ago

    mmmhmmm Taco Bell.

    • Redocbew
    • 9 years ago

    If you consider generating the prime factorization of 15 useful, then yes. Otherwise, not so much.

    • MetricT
    • 9 years ago

    One of the most fascinating physics conjectures in recent times is that quantum entanglement and wormholes are the same, or at least different manifestations of the same underlying behavior.

    [url<][/url<] Susskind and Maldecena are heavyweights in theoretical physics, so this idea is getting a lot of attention. Google "ER = EPR Conjecture" for more.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 9 years ago

    Has “quantum computing” actually been implemented yet in a real world “computer” that does something useful?

    Or are we still theorizing about the non-placement of the maybe-particle in un-time?

    • hbarnwheeler
    • 9 years ago

    Have you tasted it?

    • drfish
    • 9 years ago

    I feel like I should graph this…

    • Duct Tape Dude
    • 9 years ago

    Sort of. Afaik, entanglement doesn’t allow the actual information carrier to faster than the speed of light, it just lets you know what the other side has instantly upon measurement. Think of it this way:

    You have a blue car and a green car and you’re off to meet a friend. You drive your blue car over to your friend at a finite speed. Upon arrival, your friend sees your blue car and can instantly infer that your green car is at home.

    Your car traveled slower than the speed of light, but your friend instantly knew what color your other car was, as well as the one you drove.

    This is a loose example of what entanglement is like. A pair of particles with a known net spin (let’s say, 0) are created from some event. They can only travel up to the speed of light. When one reaches an observer, the observer can measure one particle (let’s say its spin is 1/2) and instantly know what the other particle is like (-1/2). So you can effectively measure information faster than the speed of light, but the information traveled to you at sub-celerital speeds.

    • nanoflower
    • 9 years ago

    They aren’t half good either.

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    you lost me at hello.

    • Deanjo
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]You want Taco Bell because of brainwashing.[/quote<] Taco Bell sure, but how do you explain the need for bacon?

    • cynan
    • 9 years ago

    Replace brainwashing with social conditioning, and you may be on to something. With the small caveat that just because certain ideas, positions are espoused and adopted en mass, doesn’t necessarily mean all said ideas do not have value.

    For example, the average level of personal hygiene and sanitation adopted in society is probably a good thing, relative to prior status quos, overall. Similarly, abstaining from gorging yourself with Taco Bell (or insert other borderline safe-for-consumption-in-moderate-quantities fast food here) most of the time, is probably a good thing.

    And perhaps you’re giving just a tad too much credit to the advertising penetration of, admittedly, one of the more successful early/mid 90s Sly action vehicles (I suppose a runner up to Cliffhanger?). (Also, I’m guessing Damage had passed his more impressionable early teen years by the time this came out just over 20 years ago).

    Speaking of Demolition Man, Snipes is back baby! Expendables 3 FTW!!

    • Billstevens
    • 9 years ago

    Entanglement is very cool and it should make computing and even global data transfer instantaneous from my limited understand since quantum states can be transferred between two particles with out regard for their location in time and space.

    To be fair there isn’t much conceptually to try and wrap your head around in quantum mechanics before you are stuck in a land slide of computation and experimental results. Even to people in the field the results of quantum mechanical systems tend to contradict logic, you just have to trust that experiments and good mathematics are showing you the correct results.

    • oldDummy
    • 9 years ago

    Entanglement is kinda different. INSTANT transmission of info between subjects. This is kinda related [again] to the other end of size scale. Big Bang/ Inflation theory where “In the beginning” there was an expansion of “stuff” creating our universe at a speed faster than the speed of light.

    Interesting but well beyond my understanding.

    • drfish
    • 9 years ago

    OT: How about them Waffle Tacos? As far as nasty fast food breakfast goes they aren’t half bad.

    • hbarnwheeler
    • 9 years ago

    I now understand quantum computing.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 9 years ago

    You want Taco Bell because of brainwashing.

    You don’t want Taco Bell because of separate, but also almost equally powerful brainwashing.

    Beers inhibit the later brainwashing because it’s not as integrated as the earlier, more powerful brainwashing you endured as a child/teen/young(er?) adult watching Demolition Man.

    So at 2 AM, you have a flash of Sandra Bullock saying, “I really licked his ass!” Then you go get yourself some Taco Bell.

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