Saturday, June 1, 2019

Google is researching Cold Fusion

According to a peer-reviewed paper revealed this week, Google is continuing its experiments into the controversial science of cold fusion -- the theory that nuclear fusion, the process that powers the Sun, can produce energy in a table-top experiment at room temperature. While Google's recent project found no evidence that cold fusion is possible, it did make some advances in measurement and materials-science techniques that the researchers say could benefit energy research. "The team also hopes that its work will inspire others to revisit cold-fusion experiments, even if the phenomenon still fails to materialize," reports Nature.
The story got this comment:
Google tossed $10 million into research.
If it pans out, energy is trillions of dollars each and every year.

Someone at Google probably figured the odds of this working on one in ten thousand. A 1 in 10,000 chance of making your money multiply by a million X is a good bet.

Yeah their quantum computing research may be a bit similar. Spend a few million to potentially make a forty billion. If Google tries 1,000 long-shot projects at $10 million each, and only one succeeds to the extent that it makes a twenty billion, they've doubled their money.

It's a bit like you and spending a few minutes applying for a job making twice as much money. We probably won't get it, but it's worth the five minutes because if we do that 50 times we might we'll double our salary (and spend 250 minutes applying for jobs). Google can afford to try out $10 million here, $10 million there, see what ends up working.
Google is also working on electric flying cars, and other long-shots.

The actual Nature paper says:
The 1989 claim of ‘cold fusion’ was publicly heralded as the future of clean energy generation. However, subsequent failures to reproduce the effect heightened scepticism of this claim in the academic community, ... we embarked on a multi-institution programme to re-evaluate cold fusion to a high standard of scientific rigour. Here we describe our efforts, which have yet to yield any evidence of such an effect. Nonetheless, a by-product of our investigations has been to provide new insights ...
Google may soon be spinning its quantum computer research the same way.

The claim of quantum computing was heralded as the future of high-performance computing. Subsequent failures to achieve a quantum advantage have led to skepticism. A rigorous evaluation was needed. While they did not succeed in making a quantum computer, they provided some new insights.

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