Monday, February 12, 2007

Orion's Fate



D-Wave, a quantum computing (yeah, I know!!) company based out of British Columbia (that's in Canada) have developed the first and only 16-qubit quantum processor; The Orion (fearsomely pictured above). While I have no idea what that means, what it does, or anything about quantum physics, I'm guessing this is exciting news. Or not. I haven't a clue.

What I do know (presumably) is that, once again, we are taking a quantum leap forward in technology (get it? quantum leap?? I just need to fit a Sam joke in here and I'm golden. And yes, I'm aware nobody under 30 got that). Supposedly this new processor can run in different states AT THE SAME TIME!! Our current processors only run in one state and just switch back and forth really, really fast.

This news is just....just....ok, I don't know what it is...but it sounds impressive until you consider that we're talking in nanoseconds here. Quantum processing is dealing in time frames so small I can't even wrap my tiny little brain around the idea. Consider this: Not only is this computer running in different states at the same time, it's actually running in 2 to the power of 16 different states at the same time!! I'm totally not shitting you on this, either. Theoretically it can determine a program's result without actually running the program!!

If your brain just packed up and left, you're not alone. We're talking about Quantum computing for cryin' out loud. Do the people working on this even understand it? Let's hope so. I wouldn't want this thing discovering time travel in one of it's states because it's bored finishing up someone's office memo in another. Or realizing the world would be better off without humanity while sending out the office party email. So the question I have is this: What practical application is this thing good for? If it can determine the outcome of a problem without actually running how do we know it's correct? Will it start reading our minds? I picture a HAL-like unit in the office. "You've seriously miscalculated next year's budget, Dave." (Again, 20 somethings, I apologize)

While this sounds cool (except for DA, who's groaning to herself because I'm talking technology again) the time frames are so small it will barely make a difference to us. If our current computing is so fast we can't even tell it's switching between states, why will this new multi-state computer matter? "This one computes in .03 nanoseconds? My current one can only run in .6 nanoseconds." When, my dear friends, does it cease to matter?
(Psst, I think we might already be there...shhhhh)

Today's distraction: See how fast your reflexes are. Mine are actually pretty good. I'm a Bobbing Bobcat. Plus it's fun to shoot sheep with tranqs. Don't worry, no animals are actually harmed in the making of this game.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sleep/sheep/reaction_version5.swf

2 comments:

Jim Hammen said...

I just took the best city quiz, and despite selecting nothing involving beaches, palm tree, or nice weather; selecting my favorite meal of fried chicken and mashed potatoes; and choosing mountains as the view i want from my window, they also told me to live in miami. i think we need to get that thing checked out.

ooohhhhh boy (20 somethings like quantam leap too)

BeachBum said...

Interesting. Wonder if Miami Department of Tourism is in charge of that quiz?

Are they catching reruns on the SciFi Channel?