Apocalypse technology

This is a good candidate for how the world ends. Sure is pretty, though.

16-qubit NP-complete-solving quantum computer:

This is a picture of the Orion chip's sample holder attached to one of our dilution fridges, ready to begin a cooldown. The base temperature at which we operate (5mK, or 0.005 degrees above absolute zero) is about 500 times colder than interstellar space. [...]

The Orion system is a hardware accelerator designed to solve a particular NP-complete problem called the two dimensional Ising model in a magnetic field. It is built around a 16-qubit superconducting adiabatic quantum computer processor. The system is designed to be used in concert with a conventional front end for any application that requires the solution of an NP-complete problem.

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38 Responses:

  1. abates says:

    These hyper-intelligent refrigerators will DOOM US ALL!

    • jwz says:

      They are NP-Frostfree and Humidity-Complete!

      • ladykalessia says:

        But are they Energy Star certified, and where am I going to get freezerburn proof ziplocks to handle *that*?

      • nightrider says:

        My dad was working on sample storage & retrieval freezers like this about 6 years ago. the freezers had to be frost-free, super-cold AND accessible on a somewhat regular basis. The really amazing components to the freezers were the nitrogen bath equipped sample access bay and the fact that they looked like giant coke machines with a touch-screen interface. I played with one when I was working with them for a stint.

  2. arn says:

    Is it wrong that all I wanna do with it is play Quake?

  3. lordshell says:

    Quantum computers are the bees knees.

  4. nightrider says:

    It is also how the world begins.

    This reminds me of the folks that were creating "mini" big bangs a year or two ago. Upon conclusion of the experiment they stated "the putative plasma explodes more violently than predicted..."

    That's great. Juuuust great.

    Here's another item to add to the "Hooray we're doomed!" file.
    CERN to create Baby Black Holes

    • phoenixredux says:

      Wouldn't it be hilarious if the answer to "How did the Big Bang Happen?" was that billions of years ago, a group of scientists were screwing around in a lab?

    • notthatethan says:

      A black hole has only the gravitional pull of the matter it contains. So a baby black hole has a 'baby' amount of gravity, i.e. not enough to suck in a gnat. Bonehead.

      • nightrider says:

        Suuure. I'm sure there was an LJ post just like this one right before the center of the Milky Way got started...

        p.s. Please let me have my naivety-induced kneejerk-based panic attack in peace.

        p.p.s. The sky is falling! No, really...

      • pozorvlak says:

        To start with, yeah. But every bit of matter it sucks in adds to its mass, and so it starts to grow, slowly at first, then faster, faster, faster... the real question is whether it will evaporate from Hawking radiation in time to stop it EATING THE WHOLE WORLD!!! BWAHAHAHA!!!!!

        Or something.

    • sherbooke says:

      I just love CERN. Today the WWW, tomorrow the Universe .... Bawahahahaha ... It's all that muesili.

  5. ultranurd says:

    "No one could possibly use more than 16 qubits."

  6. etfb says:

    Scientist: "There really is an answer?"
    Deep Thought: "Yes. But you're really not going to like it."

  7. outintospace says:

    "16 qubits is all you'll ever need."

    So when can I get this in a laptop form factor? I hope it can run Vanguard.

  8. nightrider says:

    I'm also disheartened to be the first of your LJ readers to respond with the following comment:

  9. kfringe says:

    You just know the guy who flips the switch on this thing is going to wind up eating planets and fighting the Fantastic Four.

  10. edge_walker says:

    That's it for today, kids! Tune in next time, where we will solve the halting problem.

  11. editer says:

    I'm no physicist, but ... does "500 times colder than interstellar space" mean anything at all? I thought space was a giant heat sink and didn't actually have ambient temperature, since there's nothing there to be cold. But even if it does, is it really only 0.2% "as cold as" this big-ass refrigerator? (I followed the link, and the elaborations there shed neither light nor heat on me.)

    Surely I'm not mure clueful than the big scientist-types. Can someone 'splain me what's going on?

    • jwz says:

      Interstellar space is not a hard vacuum; it has a particles, and those particles have vibration, and thus an (average) temperature. They are heated via radiation and wind from the (however distant) stars and galaxies.

    • volkris says:

      "500 times colder than interstellar space" probably means very little in practical terms. It's lacking in context. However, it seems to convey the idea of "quite cold, actually" that its authors intended.

      One thing to realize is that space, even idealized as a giant, empty heat sink might be insufficient. Sure your object cools through radiation, but the object is still connected via pipes and wires to room temperature, so the heat loss through radiation into the vacuum probably won't keep up with the heat gain through conduction.

      You need some process (probably some matter) in there to actually carry heat away, but then the matter itself has to be cooled... and you're sort of back to the original problem, as you can see.

    • Temperature is just kinetic energy on a very small scale, the "big-ass refrigerator" is specifically built to get rid of this energy, doing so is essential to the experiment. The interstellar medium (mostly hydrogen spread out a lot) just doesn't start out with very much of it.

      Apparently (I've never gone there to check) interstellar space is about 2.5 kelvin, and their machine reaches 0.005 kelvin. Because it is an absolute temperature scale, that is 500 times colder (whereas 5 °C isn't ten times colder than 50 °C)

      • editer says:

        OK, so I'm getting that there's enough stuff in space to have a bit of (heat) energy, and that this device produces a state that averages 0.2% that amount of energy. To my mind that's not "500 times colder" (which strikes me as literally "500 times as not-so-much") but "1/500 as warm", but the former sounds niftier, and this is an informal context anyway. Thanks all!

        • You're seeing a double-negative that isn't really there. Heat and cold are simply inverse. Something can be more cold and less hot, or less cold and more hot. Likewise, energy is merely the opposite of stillness. (Well, sort of, anyway. In the sense that zero is "sort of" the opposite of infinity.) So, if something is more energetic, it is less still. And vice-versa. Stillness is the absence of energy, yes, but so is energy the absence of stillness.

          What's tripping you up is your insistence of cold as the negative. Think of Absolute Zero as a zen state, wherein particles achieve perfect atonement.

          And what is division but multiplication by budding?

          Or maybe you're just stuck at the "Absolute Zero" part of the equation; you start there and add on. But that's not how it works. If it was, people wouldn't need dilution fridges. Or guns.

          • editer says:

            So your post, then, rather than adding to the discussion, simply subtracted from the non-discussion?

            • EXACTLY.

              Also: Watch for Rick Moranis in this summer's coolest comedy: "Honey, I Tried to Supercool the Kids but it Turns Out This Thing Actually Just Kills Them, So... Whoops."

        • Yeah, I agree. "1/500 as hot" makes perfect sense, since there is an absolute zero. (And it's approximately correct, if you take the temperature of space to be the 2.7K CBR). But "500 times colder" doesn't make sense unless you can define some sort of "coldness units" and an "absolute hot" to measure from. Yes, you can define cold as the reciprocal of temperature, and "absolute hot" as infinite temperature, and all the numbers do work out ... but it's silly and contrived and the "coldness units" aren't useful for anything other than interpreting oddly-phrased news articles.

          • gryazi says:

            "Cold" and "hot" are monkey adjectives developed to express the sensory experience of atomic-scale energies relative to the absolute temperature of a monkey.

            When speaking to monkeys, it is perfectly reasonable to describe something as 'even colder than this thing you'd experience as really really cold, except you'd be out of air and ripped apart by vacuum and generally very dead.'

  12. Mmmmm... two-dimensional Ising....