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IBM makes significant breakthrough towards scalable quantum computers

Mar 04, 2012 - Tags:

During the past months we’ve been reporting several breakthroughs in the field of quantum computing, and now IBM seems ready to truly pave the way for quantum computers. Researchers announced they are now able to develop a superconducting qubit made from microfabricated silicon that maintains coherence long enough for practical computation. Whoa! That probably sounds like a lot to swallow, so let’s break it down.

BITS AND QUBITS

Information is measured in ‘bits’, and a bit may have two positions (described typically as 0 or 1). Quantum computers however don’t use these bits, and instead they use quantum bits, or ‘qubits’. But while a bit mustbe a 0 or a 1, a qubit can be both 0, 1, or a superposition of both. This difference might seem small and subtle, but in fact, it is absolutely humongous: a mere hundred qubits can store more classical ‘bit’ information than there are atoms in the Universe.

Needless to say a computer running on qubits would be game changing, in pretty much the same way microprocessors were in their days. But what makes quantum computingextremely difficult is a problem called ‘decoherence‘. In the quantum world, things don’t happen as they do in the ‘real world’; when a qubit will move from the 0 state to the 1 state or to a superposition, it will decohere to state 0 due to interference from other parts of the computer. Generally speaking, decoherence is the loss order of the phase angles between the components. So in order for quantum computers to be practical and scalable, the system would have to remain coherent for a long enough time to allow error-correction techniques to function properly.

“In 1999, coherence times were about 1 nanosecond,” said IBM scientist Matthias Steffen. “Last year, coherence times were achieved for as long as 1 to 4 microseconds. With these new techniques, we’ve achieved coherence times of 10 to 100 microseconds. We need to improve that by a factor of 10 to 100 before we’re at the threshold we want to be. But considering that in the past ten years we’ve increased coherence times by a factor of 10,000, I’m not scared.”

Source : ZME science : Read the whole story here:

NEW CAR ENGINE SENDS SHOCK WAVES THROUGH AUTO INDUSTRY

Feb 23, 2012 - Tags:

Despite shifting into higher gear within the consumer's green conscience, hybrid vehicles are still tethered to the gas pump via a fuel-thirsty 100-year-old invention: the internal combustion engine.

However, researchers at Michigan State University have built a prototype gasoline engine that requires no transmission, crankshaft, pistons, valves, fuel compression, cooling systems or fluids. Their so-called Wave Disk Generator could greatly improve the efficiency of gas-electric hybrid automobiles and potentially decrease auto emissions up to 90 percent when compared with conventional combustion engines.

The engine has a rotor that's equipped with wave-like channels that trap and mix oxygen and fuel as the rotor spins. These central inlets are blocked off, building pressure within the chamber, causing a shock wave that ignites the compressed air and fuel to transmit energy.

The Wave Disk Generator uses 60 percent of its fuel for propulsion; standard car engines use just 15 percent. As a result, the generator is 3.5 times more fuel efficient than typical combustion engines.

Source : Discovery News : Read the whole article here.

Bummer: Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos Weren't, and It Was the Cable Guy's Fault

Feb 23, 2012 - Tags:

Apparently neutrinos are not moving faster than light after all — some of the brightest minds in modern physics were bamboozled by a loose wire.

If you care about physics, Einstein or controversies, you’ll recall the excitement last fall about neutrinos that were supposedly moving faster than light. The ghostly particles, which can move through the Earth and through you without slowing down, were leaving a particle beam in Geneva and traveling under the Alps to Gran Sasso, Italy, in less time than it would take light to travel the same distance. The neutrinos were only 60 nanoseconds early, but still — the result, which the experimenters could not explain, suggested they were moving faster than light.

While applauding the Italian researchers’ careful experiments, most of the world of physics assumed the scofflaw particles were the result of some kind of mistake, because nothing can go faster than light. Theories abounded, from fun relativity reasons to simple math errors. It turns out it was even more boring, more humdrum, more insipid than even that — someone hadn’t plugged in a wire all the way. Science Insider broke the news this afternoon, citing unnamed sources familiar with the experiment.

Source : Popular Science : Read the whole story here:

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