Monday, December 12, 2011

A solution in search of a problem

The quantum world is fascinating...

So much uncertainty and so very different to the Newtonian world we're all familiar with.

When we measure the position of a quantum object, we can't be sure of its speed and if we measure its speed, we're no longer sure exactly where it is.

Totally fascinating.

As we continue forward into the second decade of the 21st century, we are still gifted with only the slightest understanding of the quantum world but already, we've done something very, very clever.

A group of scientists at Bristol University have created the first programmable quantum photonics chip.


It won't really do anything you can show your mother -- but never the less, it's a gigantic step forward in our attempts to harness quantum effects.

Of course it's pretty much useless as anything other than a proof of concept and, as a practical device, it's even less useful than the very first integrated circuit - but oh the potential!

Unfortunately, we're just not sure what that potential can be used for.

In theory, the quantum computers that may eventually evolve from devices like this one, will be immensely useful for such complex tasks as data encryption and complex mathematics but, as of now, it's all theory.

However, just as the CPU in the computer you're using right now, with its millions or billions of individual silicon junctions grew from those very first transistors created over half a century ago by Bell Labs -- the computer of the future may be filled with devices that owe their very existence to this quantum photonic device.

The future will be a great place and fortunately, that's where we'll all be spending the rest of our lives. Enjoy.

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