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Apr 15, 2017

Trapped ions and superconductors face off in quantum benchmark

Posted by in categories: computing, quantum physics

The race to build larger and larger quantum computers is heating up, with several technologies competing for a role in future devices. Each potential platform has strengths and weaknesses, but little has been done to directly compare the performance of early prototypes. Now, researchers at the JQI have performed a first-of-its-kind benchmark test of two small quantum computers built from different technologies.

The team, working with JQI Fellow Christopher Monroe and led by postdoctoral researcher Norbert Linke, sized up their own small-scale against a device built by IBM. Both machines use five qubits—the fundamental units of information in a quantum computer—and both machines have similar error rates. But while the JQI device relies on chains of trapped atomic ions, IBM Q uses coupled regions of superconducting material.

To make their comparison, the JQI team ran several quantum programs on the devices, each of which solved a simple problem using a series of logic gates to manipulate one or two qubits at a time. Researchers accessed the IBM device using an online interface, which allows anyone to try their hand at programming IBM Q.

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Apr 15, 2017

Computers create recipe for two new magnetic materials

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing

Material scientists have predicted and built two new magnetic materials, atom-by-atom, using high-throughput computational models. The success marks a new era for the large-scale design of new magnetic materials at unprecedented speed.

Although magnets abound in everyday life, they are actually rarities—only about five percent of known inorganic compounds show even a hint of . And of those, just a few dozen are useful in real-world applications because of variability in properties such as effective temperature range and magnetic permanence.

The relative scarcity of these can make them expensive or difficult to obtain, leading many to search for new options given how important magnets are in applications ranging from motors to (MRI) machines. The traditional process involves little more than trial and error, as researchers produce different molecular structures in hopes of finding one with magnetic properties. Many high-performance magnets, however, are singular oddities among physical and chemical trends that defy intuition.

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Apr 14, 2017

Archinaut, The In-Space Robotic Manufacture and Assembly Technology

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space travel

When we think about our species’ future in space, we often imagine a network of large space stations, on-orbit factories producing large transport vessels, and giant imaging systems gazing deep into the universe’s history. That future is achievable, but it requires we think about more than just lowering the cost of launching to space. The International Space Station, the largest structure humans have put in space thus far, took more than a decade, billions of dollars, and dozens of launches and spacewalks to complete. Despite an incredible result, this construction approach won’t scale to meet future demand. A future in space that includes residences, industrial facilities, and transport stations needs platforms that allow us to manufacture and assemble large space systems in space.

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Apr 14, 2017

Zoltan Istvan — Cybrink Podcast #3

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, singularity, transhumanism

A new 45-min video podcast interview I did with Cybrink on #transhumanism, my #libertarian run for Governor, and the singularity:

Cybrink talks with Zoltan Istvan about transhumanism, artificial intelligence, the singularity and his run for Governor of California in 2018.

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Apr 14, 2017

Watch Russian space-bound FEDOR robot fire dual-wielding pistols

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space

Because the world isn’t already terrifying enough.

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Apr 14, 2017

How to condense water out of air using only sunlight for energy

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability

A water harvester designed and built at MIT condenses water from air. The harvester uses sunlight to heat metal-organic framework (MOF) material (inserted just below the glass plate on top), driving off the water vapor and condensing it (in the yellow and red condenser sitting at the bottom) for home use. (photo credit: Hyunho Kim/MIT)

MIT scientists have invented a water harvester that uses only sunlight to pull water out of the air under desert conditions, using a “metal-organic framework” (MOF) powdered material developed at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley).

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Apr 14, 2017

Carnegie Mellon University AI beats top Chinese poker players

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Carnegie Mellon University professor Tuomas Sandholm talks to Kai-Fu Lee, head of Sinovation Ventures, a Chinese venture capital firm, as Lee plays poker against Lengpudashi AI (credit: Sinovation Ventures)

Artificial intelligence (AI) triumphed over human poker players again (see “Carnegie Mellon AI beats top poker pros — a first “), as a computer sprogram developed by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers beat six Chinese players by a total of $792,327 in virtual chips during a five-day, 36,000-hand exhibition that ended today (April 10, 2017) in Hainan, China.

The AI software program, called Lengpudashi (“cold poker master”) is a version of Libratus, the CMU AI that beat four top poker professionals during a 20-day, 120,000-hand Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold’em competition in January in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Apr 14, 2017

Graphene-oxide sieve turns seawater into drinking water

Posted by in categories: nanotechnology, transportation

Schematic illustrating the direction of ion/water permeation along graphene planes (credit: J. Abraham et al./ Nature Nanotechnology)

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Apr 14, 2017

Many more mineable asteroids

Posted by in categories: economics, space

The two fundamental prerequisites for large-scale economic use of space resources are:

1. in-space manufacture of propellants from nonterrestrial bodies, and 2. in-space manufacture of heat shields for low-cost capture of materials into Earth orbit.

The former has been the subject of recent NIAC investigations. The latter would expand by a factor of 30 to 100 time the number of asteroids from which resources could be returned cost-effectively to Earth orbit. With vastly larger populations from which to choose, return opportunities will be much more frequent and targets can be selected where operations would be highly productive, not merely sufficient. The feedstocks for manufacture of life-support materials and propellants are found on C-type near-Earth asteroids, which have high concentrations of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur. The total abundance of readily extractable (HCNOS) volatiles in the CI chondritic meteorite parent bodies (C asteroids) is roughly 40% of the total meteorite mass. Further, the residue from extraction of volatiles includes a mix of metallic iron (10% of total mass), iron oxide and iron sulphides (20% as Fe) plus 1% Ni and ~0.1% Co.

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Apr 14, 2017

We May Be Able to Build a Rocket That Can Go 99.999% the Speed of Light

Posted by in categories: mathematics, physics, space travel

Theoretical physics often lifts the sanctions we set on our own imaginations. Whether it’s exploring the possibility of warp drives or understanding the rate of the universe’s expansion, we are quick to explore the unknown on our chalkboards until our tech is ready for our ideas.

In a similar deep-dive into the theoretical, a Norwegian professor argues in the journal Acta Astronautica for the of possibility of photon rockets that can reach 99.999 percent of the speed of light (300,000 km/s [186,000 mph]); asserting that, while humanity can’t do it anytime soon, we could potentially build a spacecraft that falls just short of the ultimate speed limit sometime in the future when the necessary technology is feasible.

*2* A Finance Professor Predicts the Absolute Speed Limit for all Human Spacecrafts

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