More D-Wave stuff

Finally, an article on a popular press site with a healthy dose of skepticism regarding D-Wave's announcement.

Incidentally, D-Wave has posted some details of their implementation on the arxiv. I have only had a chance to skim it so far, but I was amused to see that their readout scheme couples their qubits to an LC circuit, and they measure the phase shift of the resonator. This is an idea which has become increasingly popular after my lab demonstrated it in 2003 (Patrice Bertet published results for an harmonic oscillator readout of their flux qubits, and I understand that John Martinis' group has now coupled their phase qubits to a resonator).

Quantum computing is in the news, but...

Quantum computing is in the news today (such as this article which carries the dubious front-page text of "Quantum computers ready to go commercial", and here which is much more accurate) because Canadian start-up D-Wave demo'ed their 16-bit "quantum computer" yesterday. Quantum computer is in scare quotes in that sentence because their demo did not provide enough details to say one way or another whether their system is actually a quantum computer, because all they showed was some pretty graphics and solutions to problems which they claimed were being run on their hardware. It's going to take a lot more than that to appease the scientific community.

Dave Bacon provides a fair critique (warning: very technical!) as well as amusing commentary (not very technical) on the hype that this is getting in the press.

I think that what D-Wave is trying is pretty neat, but I am very skeptical at this point.

Update: Apparently D-Wave themselves are not willing to state with certainty that their machine is truly quantum. See the AP article on CNN.

Dennett on Free Will

Fun article in the NYTimes today about free will. A few years ago I became aware of the very interesting arguments made by Daniel Dennett, which are summarized quite well by the article:

Rather, Dr. Dennett argues, it is precisely our immersion in causality and the material world that frees us. Evolution, history and culture, he explains, have endowed us with feedback systems that give us the unique ability to reflect and think things over and to imagine the future. Free will and determinism can co-exist. “All the varieties of free will worth having, we have,” Dr. Dennett said. “We have the power to veto our urges and then to veto our vetoes,” he said. “We have the power of imagination, to see and imagine futures.” In this regard, causality is not our enemy but our friend, giving us the ability to look ahead and plan. “That’s what makes us moral agents,” Dr. Dennett said. “You don’t need a miracle to have responsibility.”

Physics Olympics

I made the news today. See the article from the Yale Daily News.

March Meeting 2006

Every March the American Physical Society hosts a meeting for condensed matter physics. It is a huge event-- this year there are close to 6,000 physicists here. You learn about the goings on in the physics world in rapid-fire 10 minute talks. You might not think that you could learn much in a 10 minute talk, but most groups that are presenting new results have multiple group members giving talks. So after seeing 3-4 talks from the same group, you do feel like you have learned something. Anyway, I'm off to another session soon, so more later...

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