Monday, July 18, 2016

Air Force funds quantum computers

NextGov reports:
The Air Force wants white papers that describe new ways quantum computing could help achieve its mission, according to an amended Broad Agency Announcement posted Friday. Eventually, the government could provide a test-bed where a contractor might install, develop and test a quantum computing system, according to the announcement.

Last year, the Air Force announced it had about $40 million available to fund research into, and the eventual maintenance and installation of a quantum system -- a branch of emerging computing technology that relies on the mechanics of atomic particles to process complex equations. ...

The Air Force is among several other federal groups interested in quantum.

Last year, for instance, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, which focuses on research and development, said it planned to award a multiyear grant to IBM to build out a component of a quantum computer. A true quantum computer might be useful, IARPA program manager David Moehring told Nextgov then, because it might be applied to complex questions like the "Traveling Salesman Problem" -- what's the best way for a salesman to visit several different locations?
$40M is not much money to the Air Force, but it shows how money is pouring into the field.

Most quantum computing projects are not even very expensive, by the standards of modern physics experiments.

I liked this comment:
String theory, multiple universes, complexity, quantum teleportation... these are to Physics what Division I football is to college, which is to say, it sells tickets and opens purse strings. No one is going to buy a book on Newtonian physics and relive their junior year in high school. But let Brian Greene write something crazy and out there about a "Holographic Universe" or somesuch and the peeps will scoop it up, and maybe even decide to become physics and math majors, and there are lots of worse results than that. So let the alumni donate for the football team, and let the googley-eyed high schoolers all plan on high-paying and fulfilling careers as Quantum Mechanics. It puts butts in the seats...
So do most physicists realize that 90% of the public image of Physics is garbage? But they quietly go along with it because it keeps the funding dollars coming in?

Sometimes I think that I am just posting the obvious on this blog. Maybe everyone knows it, but cannot say. I can say it because I am not part of the Physics money machine.

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