$1B EU QM computing initiative + QM theory/ applied highlights Q1 2016

nature_EU_qm➡ 💡 ❗ ⭐ 😮 😀 😎 ❤ hi all, more signs that physics is in a golden age esp in the area of quantum computing and quantum mechanics. EU just announced a $1B initiative to fund quantum computing. this combines with two other existing/ similar projects to analyze the brain and advance graphene technology/ understanding.[a]

the Manifesto[a1] is a sign that we are in dramatic times. you will not much hear scientists ever use the word Manifesto in their entire lifetimes. (marx was a rare exception.) another word that you will rarely hear scientists use is “revolution” but they are calling quantum computing the 2nd quantum revolution. as the chinese say, may you live in interesting times.

the announcement is utterly buried in a bureacratic document[a3] under the section “What is the financial impact of the Cloud Initiative? Where will the money come from and how will it be invested?” but Nature blared it anyway.[a2] apparently those bureacrats are a little gun shy after criticism of the $1B brain initiative as too ambitious or infeasible etc.

these are other big 2015 Q1 developments/ highlights. as usual its hard to keep up with lightning fast advances in this field. even the canadian prime minister is talking about QM these days.[b1][b2] DWave seems to be further confounding its critics with real, measurable performance.[b9][b4] somewhat similar to the EU announcement, chinas Alibaba announced a major QM research initative.[b8] they are intending to start out with encryption applications and hundreds of engineers, working toward QM computing technology.

there are amazing announcements in qubit/ spin control devices worldwide[c] such as a bus[c1] and qubits in existing silicon technology.[c4][c8] the “scalable” shor device was an advance but seemed overblown to me.[c9][c10] the word “scalable” is a big holy grail in this field and quite elusive even after many years of intense research in the area, the Big Question/ Brass Ring that virtually every research team worldwide is running for.

the neat announcement of the apparently highly polished “qm game” where humans beat computer algorithms to analyze a QM dynamical problem via a slick mobile app was very impressive and made big headlines.[d][d2] however my feeling is that (arguably) they just didnt tweak their quantum algorithms that much! think its very likely that good machine learning algorithms could beat the humans (more below). this shows how hard it is to benchmark stuff in this area and is similar to the DWave performance analysis controversy. if A is faster than B, where either A is Human or (QM?) Computer, does it mean thats a quantitative difference, or that not enough optimization was applied to A or B? this is a problem in AI research for decades also. in honor of QM origins one might call it the “measurement problem”.

as already covered in this blog, bell/ nonlocality/ entanglement experiments are making big headlines. there is some big talk about “loophole free” tests, but my feeling is that its actually the last gasp of a dying paradigm!

this reminds me of a riveting quote, maybe saw it on a blog somewhere, by Gramsci:

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

some very abstract, exotic-verging-on-weird new/ emerging philosophies seem to fit into this about spacetime etc.[i]

three other big announcments,

  • machine learning applied to QM experiments at world famous zeilinger lab[f] (nobrainer: this team should work with the QM game team for sure!)
  • and cutting edge delayed choice experiment at australian university.[g] (australians also seem to be very well nationally funded in qm research and have been making consistent headlines.)
  • spectral gap problem proven undecidable.[h]

so what is the “new that is not yet born”? it appears to me a new theory of quantum mechanics that finally removes all the “obscuranticism” of the copenhagen interpretation. have been writing about this for quite awhile on this blog, but take a look at latest signs. of course all this is “plausibly deniable” for the “stick-in-the-muds”, but the early signs of a paradigm shift are references to

  • “unusual phenomena”[j2], “weirdness”[j1][j7]
  • or stuff thats long verboten eg “real wavefunction”.[j5]
  • another new word showing up is “surrealism”.[j8][j9]
  • another idea is “continuous measurement”[j3] which appears to be related to the emerging field of “weak measurement.”

the age-old, unavoidable problem with paradigm shifting is that, even with now good general awareness of this phenomenon, we only have language, and language has both a fluid and a fixed quality, and researchers end up struggling to build an entirely new vocabulary. some of it is verbal, some of it is mathematical. paradigm shifting has to do with human thinking biases that are present in every age, as long as there are humans and scientific progress. in other words mere awareness does not transcend it!

an experiment/ finding that I think deserves special attention[j4]: Zhan et al say they have found a new “nonlocality-contextuality” tradeoff. now, what if such a property cannot be derived from the standard axioms of quantum mechanics yet is physically observable? my intuition/ expectation is that this is exactly the case! then that is incontrovertible proof of einsteins correct intuition, that QM is incomplete!

then we come to more “wild” material such as [k] where the contrarians are in near outright denial of the existing paradigm. one of the leaders/ leading names who is really sticking his neck out on the line is anderson.[k1] however, there is now very good/ strong experimental evidence here, its just that the larger community is unware of it.

also ran across this very impressive work by La Cour/ Ott, already cited it on this blog earlier without much fanfare, and think it deserves much more attention. they are claiming violations of bell inequality by a classical system, implemented/ measured electronically.[k3][k4]

a topic that came up recently, in my last blog: a connection between primes and quantum mechanics.[l] the resident SE curmudgeon “ACuriousMind” challenged me on that in an epic chat confrontation[l8] and so had to hastily dig up/ google a bunch of misc refs in cyber jujitsu defense. (all chats with ACM tend to be epic! and ACM is a near cyber celebrity! add your star if you concur!)

my final topic is the funky connection between black holes and computational complexity theory which while seemingly outlandish seems to be slowly growing as a legitimate research topic.[m] (have noticed this before but was tipped off by another physics chat room dude, FLP who is researching it. and recently decided to go to berkeley after an epic faceoff with UCSB)

there are some other claims that P vs NP and complexity theory might have foundational implications for physics but right now they are mostly regarded as speculative and near science-fiction. names in this area seem to be Hayden and Harlow.[m3] hey you know if the Perimeter institute and Simons foundation are both looking at it, theres got to be something to it.[m6] (man that Simons dude is such a social-scientific butterfly, dont you think? must be nice! jealous/envious) o_O



a. EU QM
b. qm computing
c. spin/ qubit control
d. qm game
e. bell/ nonlocality/ entanglement
f. machine learning
g. delayed choice
h. undecidable
i. abstract
j. paradigm shift
k. contrarian
l. qm + riemann
m. black hole

2 thoughts on “$1B EU QM computing initiative + QM theory/ applied highlights Q1 2016

  1. gentzen

    A post on the recent QM highlights, and you omitted Gil Kalai’s AMS article? I always thought you liked contrarians.

    I now read reference [k7] (Surely You Must All be Joking: An Outsider’s Critique of Quantum Physics), probably because of the interesting title. After a while, I started to hope that the author would make a foul of himself by saying stupid things (clearly indicating misunderstandings). At page 16, he still didn’t say anything stupid or wrong, and I realized that I still wasn’t even halfway through the article. When he finally opened his cards on page 23 by presenting the fully coupled Maxwell-Dirac equations, I realized that the author had reviewed much more related work than I ever could review, that he understood this stuff at least as good as I did, and that I’m simply not qualified enough to evaluate or judge that author.

    So one would need an experimental refutation of the Maxwell-Dirac equations. The ridiculously high accuracy of certain QED results and their agreement with measurements might “save” it from being “beaten” by the Maxwell-Dirac equations, but many of the more common arguments (or supposed proofs of QM) might actually be unable to refute the Maxwell-Dirac equations (because the typical experimental setups are “cheating” in a way which allows the Maxwell-Dirac equations to correctly predict the outcome). But the 6-photon boson sampling experiment might have been sufficient for a refutation (only the annoying 2 mode limitation worries me a bit).

    1. vznvzn Post author

      😀 hi thx for dropping by, yeah O’Reillys work seems quite substantial (havent delved into it deeply yet) and its over ½ decade old, had never heard of it until recently. found out about it in the physics chat room. many interesting refs/ discussions turn up there. yes saw Kalais article right after writing this blog, great timing/ cybersynchronicity, will have to add it, theres a great writeup on RJLiptons blog, also have to add that too.

      what your comment points out, and something thats been apparent to me for quite awhile, many years, but which is not “officially” acknowledged in the physics community: there are local hidden variable theories in QM that are amazingly “close” to the predictions of QM and their existence is just too “uncanny” to ignore. or might one even say spooky? and they mesh so closely with known classical theories. but even worse than ignoring them, is a passivity/ shrugging/ failure of curiosity/ active investigation… 😦


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