Q Research

Are open-source softwares a step forward in our quest for quantum computers?

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In the race to develop and build quantum computers, D-Wave are making a new software tool to help developers program D-Wave machines without any necessary experience in quantum physics or advanced mathematics, according to this piece on Wired Magazine by Klint Finley.

The software tool, Qbsolv, will be made open-source, meaning anyone will be able to freely share and modify the software. It is an interesting move by D-Wave, who hope the software will get other researchers and practitioners “involved in charting the future directions of quantum computing developments”. D-Wave International president Bo Ewald says, “we need more smart people thinking about applications, and another set thinking about software tools.”

The new software will join a growing pool of readily available software for quantum computer programmers, such as Qmasm, which assists developers by removing the worry about addressing underlying hardware in D-Wave machines. Finley writes on Ewald’s goal is to “kickstart a quantum computing software tools ecosystem and foster a community of developers working on quantum computer problems.”

Unfortunately, softwares such as Qbsolv actually require access to D-Wave machines, of which there are a few. Rather, programs and softwares such as Qbsolv and Qmasm are step towards improving the way we visualise problems within quantum computing. Finley, however, is less emphatic and writes “they’ll need more than just open source software […] They’ll need an open source community.”

Image: Getty Images

Q Research

Is 2017 the year of the quantum computer?

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With computing giants such as Google and Microsoft, along with a host of labs and start-ups all pledging to build the first quantum computer, the quantum race is set to heat up this new year.

This piece in the Nature journal outlines the newest endeavours by Google and more recently by Microsoft, as well as by academic labs and quantum computing start-ups alike.

Google is hoping to perform quantum computation beyond the most powerful ‘classical’ supercomputers this year, by harnessing superconductivity in a project they began in 2014. Microsoft on the other hand plan to work on an unproven concept, topological quantum computing, and hope to perform a first demonstration on the technology.

Christopher Monroe, physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park who co-founded the start-up IonQ, noticed “people are really building things […] It’s no longer just research.”


Project Q, Q Research

Project Q interviews leading figure in Microsoft’s new quantum computing initiative

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On the cusp of the New York Times’ announcement that Microsoft was going all in on quantum computing, the Project Q team was in Copenhagen to interview Villum Kann Rasmussen Professor Charles Marcus at the Niels Bohr Institute, where the quantum revolution first began.

Professor Marcus along with Leo Kouwenhoven from the Delft University of Technology and David Reilly from the University of Sydney, all leading figures in the field of quantum computing, have been brought in by Microsoft in a combined effort to create the first scalable quantum computer using topological qubits.

Watch a clip from the interview below.

Image: From left, Leo Kouwenhoven and Charles Marcus attend the 2014 Microsoft’s Station Q conference in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Brian Smale)

Q Research

The Quantum Brain

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Quanta Magazine recently published this article describing a new, groundbreaking theory which seeks to explain how fragile quantum states may be able to exist for hours (even days) within the human brain.

Jennifer Ouellette writes about Matthew Fisher, a physicist from the University of California, Santa Barbara, who published this controversial paper in 2015 proposing that the nuclear spins of phosphorus atoms could serve as rudimentary ‘qubits’ in the brain, suggesting that the brain could function like a quantum computer.

The hypothesis is controversial and puzzling, given the difficulty of building an operating quantum computer, which includes entangling qubits in a fragile state. The bigger challenge is providing the same controlled environment in a ‘warm, wet brain’, where maintaining coherence for long periods of time is near impossible.

However, there is growing evidence to suggest that biological systems can in fact possess quantum mechanical functions. Fisher’s research broadly follows this emerging field of quantum biology, which includes new research that shows migratory birds have a quantum compass enabling them to navigate pathways using the Earth’s magnetic fields.

What do you think? Can quantum mechanical functions occur in the brain?


Q Research

Singaporean telco Singtel join forces with the National University of Singapore in the name of cybersecurity

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Yesterday, the National University of Singapore announced their partnership with Singaporean telco Singtel, launching the NUS-Singtel Cyber Security Research and Development Laboratory to address the growing security concerns of our hyperconnected digital world.

The R&D lab aims to conduct research and development capabilities and innovative solutions that defend Singapore’s public entities, businesses and individuals from cyber threats. The research focus will revolve around four themes: network, data and cloud security; predictive security analytics; Internet-of-Things and industrial control systems; and most interestingly, future-ready cybersecurity systems based on quantum technology.

The Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore has noted that this new partnership will allow their researchers to bring quantum key distribution to one of Singapore’s biggest fibre networks.

This exciting new partnership is evidence of the increasing support and funding in research and development to introduce quantum technology in building security solutions in our ever expanding digital age, especially in South East Asia.

Image: CQT’s Alexander Ling and Singtel’s Amelia Tan presented a demo of quantum key distribution to Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean at the launch of the NUS-Singtel Cyber Security Research and Development Laboratory (Centre for Quantum Technologies)

Project Q, Q Research, Q3

Quantum Leap: China’s satellite and the new arms race

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Q3 speaker Taylor Owen recently wrote a piece for Foreign Affairs that explores the effects and implications of new quantum technologies on international relations, which features Project Q’s work and research.

The piece looks at the recent launch of China’s quantum satellite into orbit, the private and public partnerships in the development of quantum computers, and if in understanding these new quantum technologies we are able to better understand the universe.

Taylor Owen is an assistant professor of digital media and global affairs at the University of British Columbia and a Senior Fellow at the Columbia Journalism School. Listen to his talk below on the final roundtable event at the third annual Q Symposium last February.

Q Research

China launches first quantum-communications satellite

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China has successfully launched the world’s first quantum-communications satellite, which has arguably propelled the country ahead of its global rivals in the quantum arms race.

The satellite is set to establish hack-proof communications impervious to cyber security threats. Today’s launch was the beginning of China’s ambitious national program to create a network of quantum-secure communication, by transmitting undecipherable keys between ground and space.

The breakthrough project was led by Professor Pan Jian-Wei from the University of Science and Technology in China, in collaboration with the University of Vienna, where he was a former PhD graduate supervised by Professor Anton Zeilinger.

Once in orbit, the satellite will transmit entangled photons to ground bases in Beijing and Vienna to create a secret key used to access information within the transmission.

If the satellite’s launch and orbit is successful, China plans to launch more satellites to complete the first global network of quantum-communication.

Image: Zuma Press

Project Q, Q3

Q3 Symposium Highlight Video with Project Q Announcement

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Watch the highlight video of the 3rd annual Q Symposium (Q3), which was held on February 11-13, 2016 at the Q Station in Manly.

The Q team have just returned from Singapore where they attended the International Conference on Quantum Communication, Measurement and Computing (QCMC) at the National University of Singapore. The team conducted many interviews of attendees and professionals, ranging from quantum physicists to computer scientists to a global strategist, as part of the production of Project Q’s documentary film.

The team have also decided to postpone the upcoming 4th annual Q Symposium (Q4) to February 2018 to focus on producing the digital green paper and edited volume publications, as well as the treatment for the documentary feature film as part of Project Q.

In the meanwhile, keep up to date with the Project by subscribing to our blog updates at the bottom of this page or follow us on Twitter @ProjectQSydney.

Image above: The Q Team interviewing Alex Bocharov from Microsoft Research at the QCMC Conference in Singapore

Project Q, Q3, Uncategorized

Q3 Provides Chance to Reflect on Project Q’s Progress

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While progress towards a meaningful quantum computer has yet to cascade into Moore’s law territory, this year’s Q Symposium—the third such event hosted by the University of Sydney’s Centre for International Security Studies and generously supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York—gave the impression that significant steps have been taken over the past two years.

By necessity, much of the writing and research of Q1 tended to treat the imminence of quantum technology speculatively. Post-Snowden secrecy combined with the oft-grandiose claims of its potential power made by those in its pursuit led many —myself included—to feel that quantum computing could be a paradigm shift for security on par with nuclear weapons. While this may ultimately prove the case, this year’s conference seemed very consciously engaged with the current reality of quantum technologies and theories, grounding its proceedings in a tone more grounded in the current quantum state of affairs.

This move could not come at a better time. With Project Q and similar efforts (i.e. Alexander Wendt’s publication of Quantum Mind and Social Science) beginning to present the ideas of a quantum social science to the broader community of security scholarship at ISA, the research and thinking around Q must strive to demonstrate the rigor and conceptual clarity necessary to allay competing criticisms of science envy and charlatanism.



Watch the final roundtable event from Q3 Symposium on peace and security in a quantum age

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The final roundtable from the third annual Q Symposium held on February 11-13 this year is now available online. View the full recording below.

The roundtable wraps up the conference and features a discussion panel of Professors Azar Gat (Tel Aviv University), Karen O’Brien (University of Oslo), Christian Reus-Smit (University of Queensland), Assistant Professor Taylor Owen (University of British Columbia), Stephen Del Rosso (Carnegie Corporation) and Professor James Der Derian (University of Sydney).