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The Argument Against Quantum Computers
When did you first have doubts about quantum computers?At first, I was quite enthusiastic, like everybody else. But at a lecture in 2002 by Michel Devoret called “Quantum Computer: Miracle or Mirage,” I had a feeling that the skeptical direction was a little bit neglected. Unlike the title, the talk was very much the usual rhetoric about how wonderful quantum computing is. The side of the mirage was not well-presented.
And so you began to research the mirage.Only in 2005 did I decide to work on it myself. I saw a scientific opportunity and some possible connection with my earlier work from 1999 with Itai Benjamini and Oded Schramm on concepts called noise sensitivity and noise stability.
What do you mean by “noise”?By noise I mean the errors in a process, and sensitivity to noise is a measure of how likely the noise — the errors — will affect the outcome of this process. Quantum computing is like any similar process in nature — noisy, with random fluctuations and errors. When a quantum computer executes an action, in every computer cycle there is some probability that a qubit will get corrupted.
And so this corruption is the key problem?We need what’s known as quantum error correction. But this will require 100 or even 500 “physical” qubits to represent a single “logical” qubit of very high quality. And then to build and use such quantum error-correcting codes, the amount of noise has to go below a certain level, or threshold.To determine the required threshold mathematically, we must effectively model the noise. I thought it would be an interesting challenge.
What exactly did you do?I tried to understand what happens if the errors due to noise are correlated — or connected. There is a Hebrew proverb that says that trouble comes in clusters. In English you would say: When it rains, it pours. In other words, interacting systems will have a tendency for errors to be correlated. There will be a probability that errors will affect many qubits all at once.So over the past decade or so, I’ve been studying what kind of correlations emerge from complicated quantum computations and what kind of correlations will cause a quantum computer to fail.In my earlier work on noise we used a mathematical approach called Fourier analysis, which says that it’s possible to break down complex waveforms into simpler components. We found that if the frequencies of these broken-up waves are low, the process is stable, and if they are high, the process is prone to error.That previous work brought me to my more recent paper that I wrote in 2014 with a Hebrew University computer scientist, Guy Kindler. Our calculations suggest that the noise in a quantum computer will kill all the high-frequency waves in the Fourier decomposition. If you think about the computational process as a Beethoven symphony, the noise will allow us to hear only the basses, but not the cellos, violas and violins.These results also give good reasons to think that noise levels cannot be sufficiently reduced; they will still be much higher than what is needed to demonstrate quantum supremacy and quantum error correction.
Why can’t we push the noise level below this threshold?Many researchers believe that we can go beyond the threshold, and that constructing a quantum computer is merely an engineering challenge of lowering it. However, our first result shows that the noise level cannot be reduced, because doing so will contradict an insight from the theory of computing about the power of primitive computational devices. Noisy quantum computers in the small and intermediate scale deliver primitive computational power. They are too primitive to reach “quantum supremacy” — and if quantum supremacy is not possible, then creating quantum error-correcting codes, which is harder, is also impossible.
What do your critics say to that?Critics point out that my work with Kindler deals with a restricted form of quantum computing and argue that our model for noise is not physical, but a mathematical simplification of an actual physical situation. I’m quite certain that what we have demonstrated for our simplified model is a real and general phenomenon.My critics also point to two things that they find strange in my analysis: The first is my attempt to draw conclusions about engineering of physical devices from considerations about computation. The second is drawing conclusions about small-scale quantum systems from insights of the theory of computation that are usually applied to large systems. I agree that these are unusual and perhaps even strange lines of analysis.And finally, they argue that these engineering difficulties are not fundamental barriers, and that with sufficient hard work and resources, the noise can be driven down to as close to zero as needed. But I think that the effort required to obtain a low enough error level for any implementation of universal quantum circuits increases exponentially with the number of qubits, and thus, quantum computers are not possible.
How can you be certain?I am pretty certain, while a little nervous to be proven wrong. Our results state that noise will corrupt the computation, and that the noisy outcomes will be very easy to simulate on a classical computer. This prediction can already be tested; you don’t even need 50 qubits for that, I believe that 10 to 20 qubits will suffice. For quantum computers of the kind Google and IBM are building, when you run, as they plan to do, certain computational processes, they expect robust outcomes that are increasingly hard to simulate on a classical computer. Well, I expect very different outcomes. So I don’t need to be certain, I can simply wait and see.Read the source article at quantamagazine.org
Merck opens Jerusalem innovation lab
The laboratory is part of Merck’s commitment to Israel, collaboration with the Hebrew University, and development efforts in nanotechnologies and materials.Merck Group, the German pharmaceutical and life sciences company, today inaugurated a technology innovation laboratory at its subsidiary Qlight Nanotech in Jerusalem, hosted on the Hebrew University’s Edmund J. Safra Campus. The laboratory is part of Merck’s commitment to Israel, collaboration with the Hebrew University, and development efforts in nanotechnologies and materials.Qlight Nanotech was established through Yissum, the technology transfer company of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, partnering Prof. Uri Banin of The Hebrew University and Merck, and supported by the Israel Innovation Authority. It was fully acquired by Merck in mid-2015 to support Merck’s development in liquid crystal display materials and its growing presence in OLED materials."We are very happy to be present in Israel one of the world’s most advanced technology hotspots,” said Dr. Kai Beckmann, CEO of Performance Materials & member of Merck’s Executive Board.Qlight, recognized in 2014 as “Nanotechnology Company of the Year” by the Chief Scientist of Israel, focuses its Research and Development on cadmium-free quantum materials for use in display applications. Quantum materials are nanosized particles which enable displays with a substantially extended colour gamut. Qlight's work is tightly integrated into global projects, working closely with Merck teams in Germany and Japan.“Qlight Nanotech is an excellent illustration of the synergistic potential of academia and industry to scale and promote new technological advances,” said Dr. Yaron Daniely, CEO and President of Yissum, Hebrew University's Technology Transfer Company. “Hebrew University is a world leader in innovative material science research. We are excited to play an instrumental role in bringing more technological breakthroughs to commercialization.”Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 6, 2018© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018Read the source article at globes.co.il
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Enhancing the Quantum Sensing Capabilities of Diamonds
Shooting electrons at diamonds can introduce quantum sensors into themResearchers discovered that dense ensembles of quantum spins can be created in a diamond with high resolution using electron microscopes, paving the way for enhanced sensors and resources for quantum technologies.Diamonds are made of carbon atoms in a crystalline structure, but if a carbon atom is replaced with another type of atom, this will result in a lattice defect. One such defect is the Nitrogen-Vacancy (NV), where one carbon atom is replaced by a nitrogen atom, and its neighbor is missing (an empty space remains in its place). If this defect is illuminated with a green laser, in response it will emit red light (fluoresce) with an interesting feature: its intensity varies depending on the magnetic properties in the environment. This unique feature makes the NV center particularly useful for measuring magnetic fields, magnetic imaging (MRI), and quantum computing and information.In order to produce optimal magnetic detectors, the density of these defects should be increased without increasing environmental noise and damaging the diamond properties.Now, scientists from the research group of Nir Bar-Gill at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Racah Institute of Physics and Department of Applied Physics, in cooperation with Professor Eyal Buks of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, have shown that ultra-high densities of NV centers can be obtained by a simple process of using electron beams to kick carbon atoms out of the lattice.This work, published in the scientific journal Applied Physics Letters, is a continuation of previous work in the field and demonstrates an improvement in the densities of NV centers in a variety of diamond types. The irradiation is performed using an electron beam microscope (Transmission Electron Microscope or TEM), which has been specifically converted for this purpose. The availability of this device in nanotechnology centers in many universities in Israel and around the world enables this process with high spatial accuracy, quickly and simply.The enhanced densities of the NV color centers obtained, while maintaining their unique quantum properties, foreshadow future improvements in the sensitivity of diamond magnetic measurements, as well as promising directions in the study of solid state physics and quantum information theory.Nitrogen Vacancy (NV) color centers exhibit remarkable and unique properties, including long coherence times at room temperature (~ ms), optical initialization and readout, and coherent microwave control.“This work is an important stepping stone toward utilizing NV centers in diamond as resources for quantum technologies, such as enhanced sensing, quantum simulation, and potentially quantum information processing”, said Bar-Gill, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Physics and Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University, where he founded the Quantum Information, Simulation, and Sensing lab."What is special about our approach is that it's very simple and straightforward," said Hebrew University researcher Dima Farfurnik. "You get sufficiently high NV concentrations that are appropriate for many applications with a simple procedure that can be done in-house."
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In 2003, philosopher Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford made the first rigorous exploration of the simulation argument. The simulations he considered are different from those in movies like “The Matrix,” in which the world is simulated but the conscious minds are not—that is, where biological human beings with human brains interface with the simulated world. In Bostrom’s simulations, human consciousness is just another figment of the simulation.Bostrom assumes that the human mind is substrate-independent: that human consciousness isn’t strictly dependent on the biological brain itself, and that if we could physically replicate that brain in sufficient detail in another form (such as within a computer) it would also have the subjective experience of consciousness. The replication doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be good enough that the replicated being has a human-like subjective experience (a “mind”). An advanced civilization with sufficient computing power to pull this off would be classified as “posthuman.”All this being said, some physicists say that we won’t ever be able to prove definitively that we’re not in a simulation, because any evidence we collect could itself be simulated evidence. It’s exhausting to think about—but somebody has to do the work of figuring out what’s real.Read the source article at PBS: Public Broadcasting Service
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Rainer Weiss, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, both of the California Institute of Technology, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for the discovery of ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago but had never been directly seen.
In announcing the award, the Royal Swedish Academy called it “a discovery that shook the world.”
In February 2016, when an international collaboration of physicists and astronomers announced that they had recorded gravitational waves emanating from the collision of a pair of massive black holes a billion light years away, it mesmerized the world. The work validated Einstein’s longstanding prediction that space-time can shake like a bowlful of jelly when massive objects swing their weight around, and it has put astronomers on intimate terms with the deepest levels of physical reality, of a void booming and rocking with invisible cataclysms.
Why did they win?
Dr. Weiss, 85, Dr. Thorne, 77, and Dr. Barish, 81, were the architects and leaders of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, the instrument that detected the gravitational waves, and a sister organization the LIGO Scientific Collaboration of more than a thousand scientists who analyzed the data.
Dr. Weiss will receive half of the prize of 9 million Swedish Kronor and Dr. Thorne and Dr. Barish will split the other half.CreditJonathan Nackstrand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, pronounced in 1916, suggested that matter and energy would warp the geometry of space-time the way a heavy sleeper sags a mattress, producing the effect we call gravity. His equations described a universe in which space and time were dynamic. Space-time could stretch and expand, tear and collapse into black holes — objects so dense that not even light could escape them. The equations predicted, somewhat to his displeasure, that the universe was expanding from what we now call the Big Bang, and it also predicted that the motions of massive objects like black holes or other dense remnants of dead stars would ripple space-time with gravitational waves.Read the source article at The New York Times
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Flat surfaces with carefully planned cuts—with a single motion their purpose is revealed.
I graduated from a unique joint program for Computer Science at The Hebrew University and Industrial Design at Bezalel Academy. My project is a result of my studies, combined scientific research with aesthetics and leaves an opening to variety of potential applications.
My fascination of using mathematics as a tool to enhance design led me to the development of a new design and production form based on auxetic structures. Auxetics are structures or materials that when stretched, become thicker perpendicular to the applied force. This structure serves as the basis for planning cuts that provide the flat sheet with its potential third dimension.Design Team
Designer: Tamar Levy
Advisor: Tal Gur
My project, guided by Tal Gur, was a process of cutting style development, transforming from 2D to 3D and exploring behavior of various materials under deformation. The cuts are made using common techniques and technologies, while abiding to two central constraints: minimize material loss and create the ability to transform the two dimensional form into a three dimensional structure in a single manipulation.
Designing the complex auxetic geometries was fraught with obstacles. By treating the pattern design as an algorithmic problem, I built an auxetic pattern rule-based system. The process led to various discoveries. For example, when the pattern is enclosed with an uncut border (see image…) the direction of expansion is upwards and is receives a three dimensional form. In addition, it became clear that there were three parameters that influenced the sheet's behavior: material, geometry and transition method. While with textiles and layered materials the transformation can be repeated, with metal it is irreversible. The method of the transition between dimensions can be created by various forces which gives the object special characteristics. On the one hand, external physical forces, such as electromagnetic field or gravity. On the other hand, manual forces like stretching, pulling or pushing.
Potential applications of these forms could be done in different disciplines and varying scales, from medical stents to architectural structures. As a result of my research, I chose to demonstrate three applications that best show the production method capabilities from different angles. In a manual motion, the piece of metal stretches and becomes a hanger. Under gravity laws, the parametrically designed textile partitions receive a three dimensional transformation. The wooden bag reacts to its varying content volumes and to hand movement inside.Read the source article at News - NewsFiber
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Mobileye, the Israeli automotive technology company, like other makers of breakthrough products, is reverential about its mission, using terms such as “revolutionary” and “saving lives.”
Tesla Motors, the California-based electric car maker, has announced it will introduce an autonomous vehicle incorporating Mobileye technology this year. The Israeli company says it will supply its system to another two unnamed carmakers with self-driving cars in the production phase and another five that have cars under development.“We are at an exciting time in the life of Mobileye,” Amnon Shashua, the company’s professorial, somewhat geeky chairman said in a recent corporate film teaser in which he previewed Mobileye’s coming technology. The film showed him in the driving seat of a car zipping down a motorway, with his hands off the wheel as he gazed sideways away from the road.To continue reading the article, visit the Financial Times here.