Friday, April 13, 2012

Reason #175: Quantum Toasters (or something)

Many moons ago, I did a school project that involved, among many other things, creating an outline for a big-budget summer blockbuster action movie. The MacGuffin of my particular story was something called a Quantum Receiver, which a scientist invented in order to receive transmissions from a race of alien robots. Or something like that; it's been a while.

What exactly the device had to do with quantum anything, I couldn't tell you - it just seemed like a bullshit way of saying "this receiver is more advanced than an Earth receiver".

Apparently I'm a consumer science visionary, because researchers have begun developing semiconductor chips that generate entangled photons, which means they exist in a shared quantum state. I know the broad strokes of quantum entanglement, in that the state of one photon instantaneously affects the state of the other even if they're light-years apart, but what bearing that has on commercial electronics--including what this article awesomely calls "quantum computing"--I have little to no idea. I gather it would play a role in devices that normally use lasers, but how is beyond me at this stage.

Also, it isn't immediately apparent whether any US federal funding went into the research in question, but some of it was done in Canada, which is close enough for me.

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