back to article It's not us, it's you: Boffins ditch supercomputers in lust for new materials

Physicists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology have created a quantum simulator designed to model complex quantum mechanics phenomena that even the fastest supercomputer could not compute. The researchers created the simulator by trapping up to 219 beryllium ions inside a Penning trap in a bid to study …

  1. Byz

    Woo hoo people actually doing experiments!!

    As a computer scientist and a physicist I've hated how people assume that they can model everything on a computer.

    Unfortunately when things become to complex you have to make assumptions to build a model, this inevitably means something gets missed out e.g. most climate models cannot model clouds very well and many economic models don't take real data.

    So the models diverge from reality.

    In the last few years I've seen people actually questioning reality when it doesn't fit the model (No your model is wrong!!).

    So it is great to see people actually doing experiments because it is to complexed :)

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Woo hoo people actually doing experiments!!

      But I thought we're all a simulation anyway? </sarcasm>

      Anything that advances human understanding is a honourable endeavour and indeed should be cause for celebration.

  2. Mike 140

    But did it tell them whether the cat was alive or dead?

    1. Electron Shepherd

      It's neither...

      The animal in question, now identified as a feline called 'Bernice', had merely got fed up with being locked in a box and had taken the first opportunity to hoof it through an open window.

      All the experimenter had to do was set a saucer of milk by the window and call the cat's name in an enticing voice.

      1. Woza

        Re: It's neither...

        Gently does it...

    2. Bloakey1
      Joke

      "But did it tell them whether the cat was alive or dead?"

      Paradoxically it is both alive and dead at the same time. Give me the cat for ten minutes and the hammer and I will sort the whole quantem super position thingy out in one swift blow.

      1. harmjschoonhoven

        @Bloakey1

        Give me the cat for ten minutes and the hammer and I will sort the whole quantem super position thingy out in one swift blow.

        Not so fast: Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that you can not control with certainty the momentum and position of the hammer in one blow.

        1. moiety

          Re: @Bloakey1

          ...or the cat.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        But the cat would be there and not there at the same time so you end up killing and not killing the cat and you get the same problem.

    3. Alan Esworthy
      Facepalm

      Yes. It told them that the cat would be alive or dead.

  3. Anomalous Cowshed

    Breaking news - Politician unveils advance in Quantum Bovine Excressology (QBE)

    The field of Quantum Bovine Excressology advanced by a giant leap today, when a senior politician, who cannot be named for some reason, announced that a tremendous advance in his profession had been made possible using techniques inspired by well-known and now world-renowned "Quantum" principles. In a statement to our reporter, the senior Minister said that it was "Better than an ipad, better than any supercomputer: so better in fact, you'll never understand what we're talking about, but anyway you're so gullible that it doesn't make a difference."

  4. rcoombe

    Scratches head

    "charged particles - such as ions"

    I'm sure my dimly remembered A level chemistry learnings are telling me that all charged particles are ions, as that's what the definition of an ion is.

    Am I wrong?

    1. LuDo

      Re: Scratches head

      You are wrong,

      although all ions are charged particles, not all charged particles are ions. Take the electron for example, or any of the quarks.

      1. Philip Mather

        Re: Scratches head

        > Take the electron for example

        Don't! There's only one of them, maybe, or not... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-electron_universe

        1. dajames Silver badge

          Re: Scratches head

          > Take the electron for example

          Don't! There's only one of them, maybe, or not...

          That's the beauty of it. You can take the electron away, but we'll still have all the rest of it.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Scratches head

        I tried taking quarks - gave me hiccups!

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Scratches head

          I tried taking quarks - gave me hiccups!

          Lucky devil. I got Quark Farts and am now banned from several local establishments.

  5. cosymart

    I read this and failed to understand.....

    I read this and failed to understand 99% of it.... It's not April 1st is it?

    1. DNTP

      Re: I read this and failed to understand.....

      Scientists got fed up trying to simulate quantum computational phenomena on conventional supercomputers that only had ones and zeros, so they set up an experiment using 219 trapped, associated atoms that can be used to represent ones, zeros, and maybes.

      Note that their experiment probably falls under some definition of a quantum computer itself. Which they intend to use to study quantum phenomena, thus creating an entangled state out of the concepts of "irony", "paradox", and "amazing!".

  6. tojb
    Go

    spinglass the board game

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1312.1839

    No need to simulate spinglasses with confusing and expensive quantum computers: just give the rules of the board game to a small group of ten-year-old children. Schmeiss die beste Party!

    1. Bloakey1

      Re: spinglass the board game

      "No need to simulate spinglasses with confusing and expensive quantum computers: just give the rules of the board game to a small group of ten-year-old children. Schmeiss die beste Party!"

      Take off the spinglasses, stand back from the children and put the Smeisser on the floor!

      I once was given nearly full marks for making love by a German girl, she said "Nein Nein Nein" that is 1 mark short of a thousand percent.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My only question

    My only question is will it run Windows?

  8. ian 22

    So many qubits!

    Almost as many as in Noah's Ark device. Will we have another deluge soon?

    Oh, sorry. Wrong type of device.

  9. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I've had an entanglement simulator running for years. I call it "my iPod earbuds".

    They exhibit the property that no matter in what state they are stored in a pocket, when retrieved they are hopelessly tangled.

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