In september 2019 the Financial Times reported: ‘Google claims to have built the first quantum computer that can carry out calculations beyond the ability of today’s most powerful supercomputers, a landmark moment that has been hotly anticipated by researchers.’
The quantum processor of Google, with 54 Qubits – of which one failed – managed to produce a random sequence of 53 bits with a certain distribution within 200 seconds. That’s something even a supercomputer can’t do, since the processes of a classical computer with bits that are either 1 or 0 are fundamentally not random. Random output is even undesirable. Each Qubit of a quantum computer, on the other hand, can be in both states ‘simultaneously’. If you can succesfully entangle those 54 Qubits together without ‘disrupting’ their entanglement, you can in principle perform 254 (~250 million) calculations in parallel.
Entangling so many Qubits is a technical achievement of the first order. Qubits are very unstable, which means that they can ‘decay’ to a ‘hard’ 1 or 0 bit after a very short time, a few milliseconds. Entanglement of unstable Qubits more or less multiplies that instability per added component. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t say what that particular distribution in which those random numbers had to be generated, but I assume that you can produce a huge amount of random number series in 200 seconds, while you have to pick out those that meet your special criterion.
The article gives no further details, which allows me to give my own thoughts a little free range here. A QRNG you can purchase on the Internet has a processor around 45 Mhz, so I think it produces random zeros and ones at that rate, 45 million per second. With 53 QRNGs connected in parallel, you have generated 9 billion random sequences of 53 bits after 200 seconds. Then you still have to be able to find the series that meets that special condition, which could possibly be a tough task even for a supercomputer. But when you can impose this special condition on those 53 Qubits in advance, then you have immediately the right outcome after just one operation.
I am very curious about more details and especially how people managed to impose the desired restrictions on the Qubits in Google’s quantum computer in advance. And also why they still needed 200 seconds.
In addition to quantum physics, I also have of course other interests and fascinations. And sometimes some other than a quantum physics subject is so impressive and important that I want to say something about it on this website, even though it’s not about quantum physics.
It’s about the SAFIRE project. The acronym means: Stellar Athmospheric Function in Regulation Experiment. It was started by a group of plasma physicists, astrophysicists and electrical engineers who wanted to test an idea deviating from mainstream physics about the forces that play an important role within our solar system and also in interstellar space. This group is called out by RationalWiki as a bunch of garden-variety physicists or pseudo-physicists. Well, they have answered the challenge and started the SAFIRE project. They have implemented their model of how they think the sun works in a laboratory container, a three-year project, to see if their model can be falsified.
Their result is truly amazing. View the film they produced, read their 72 page report and think for yourself. Either they are completely fraudulent, or they have discovered something particularly important (and that option is my firm impression) that can have enormous implications for:
Our knowledge about the real processes that take place in a star, especially in our own nearby sun.
Insights about the origin of the elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.
Free energy production: a revolutionary way in which energy can be generated. It seems nuclear fusion is happening, because heavy elements appear to be produced, without any adverse side effects and without the need for an incredibly expensive and complex fusion reactor, which has to enclose the hot plasma in extremely strong magnetic fields.
Safe processing of radioactive waste.
Energy by transmutation of light elements
If this is true, then this is incredibly good news, especially in the context of our current problems with regard to our global energy needs.
Confirmation by replication
When watching the film and reading their report, I am reminded of the facilities that are available on the most universities, to replicate this and to test it. It is not beyond the capabilities of an academic technician with adequate resources. Physics students, accept the challenge.
To keep up to date with the subjects on my website I have to read quite a bit. And a lot of highly interesting material on quantum physics is being written and published. But occasionally I come across something that impresses me particularly and seems worth of special attention. Especially when it considerably broadens or clarifies my view on quantum physics and its interpretations. Therefore highly recommended stuff for visitors of my website. So, I’ll discuss two books here. The first one I want to discuss is: “Beyond Weird – Why Everything You Thought About Quantum Physics is .. different” by Philip Ball.
I am grateful to the student who put this book in my hands. Philip Ball is a science journalist who has been writing about this topic in Nature for many years. You don’t need to be able to solve exotic Schrödinger equations to follow his fascinating and utterly clear explanation of the quantum world and the riddles it presents. Also, he clears some misunderstandings up about this subject. Such as the word quantum, which is actually not the fundamental thing in quantum physics but rather an emerging phenomenon. The state wave is not quantized but fundamentally very continuous. He desctibes how quantum physics in its character and history deviates from all previous physical theories. It is a theory that is not built by extrapolation on the older theories. You can’t imagine what happens in the quantum world as you can do with, for example, gravity, electric currents, gas molecules, etc. The mathematical basis of quantum physics, quantum mechanics was not created by starting from fundamental principles but was the result of particularly happy intuitions that worked well but whose creators could not fundamentally explain what they were based on. Examples are: The matrix mechanics of Heisenberg, the Schrödinger equation, the idea of Born that the state function gives you the probability of finding the particle at a certain place when measured. It was all inspired intuitive guesswork that laid the foundation for an incredibly successful theory we still don’t really understand how and why it works. Ball makes presents a good case for the idea that quantum mechanics seems to be about information. It is a pity, in my opinion, that he ultimately appears to adhere to the decoherence hypothesis. That is the point in his book where the critical reader will notice that what was until then comparably good to follow step by step suddenly loses its strict consistency and that from there one has to do with imperfect metaphors. His account remains interesting but isn’t that convincing anymore. Despite that, the book is highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand more about the quantum world and especially about quantum computers.
The Quantum Handshake
A completely different type of book is “The Quantum Handshake – Entanglement, Nonlocality and Transactions” by John Cramer. His interpretation of quantum physics seems, in my opinion incorrectly, not to be placed on the long list of serious quantum interpretations. Not a big group of supporters. In any case, I had never heard of his interpretation until it was brought forward by someone at a presentation about consilience I attended a short time ago. The subject made me curious because the state wave seems to stretch out backward and forward in time as I see it. Cramers’ hypothesis is that the state wave can also travel back in time, creating a kind of ‘handshake’ between the primary departing state wave and the secondary backwards in time reflected state wave. The reflected state wave traveling back in time arrives at the source thus exactly at the time of departure of the primary wave. This handshake between both waves effects the transfer of energy without the need for the so-called quantum collapse. The measurement problem where the continuous state wave instantaneously changes into an energy-matter transfer would then be explained as the result of a energy transfer by the handshaking state waves. However, in order to finally be able to complete that energy-matter transfer from source to measurement device, Cramer has to assume that the state wave is “somewhat” material-physical. This ephemeral quality of the state wave is considered as a severe weakness in his interpretation. Nevertheless the book provides worthwhile reading for those who want to delve into the various interpretations of quantum physics, also and especially because of Cramer’s discussion of a large number of experiments with amazing implications such as, for example, quantum erasers and delayed choice experiments where retro causality appears to occur. His idea of a state wave that is traveling back in time – which is not forbidden in the formulations of quantum mechanics – remains a fascinating possibility.