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A cavity containing a squeezed vacuum, developed at the California Institute of Tech in separate research. The University of Calgary and Tokyo Institute of Technology research uses a similar squeezed vaccum to store "less than nothing".  (Source: California Institute of Technology)
"Less than nothing" is the new zero

The world of quantum mechanics is filled with outlandish physical phenomena --  including everything from perpetual motion to teleportation.  Scientists have sought, in recent years, to exploit these phenomena to create the ultimate computing machine.  Such a computer, which would put even Intel or IBM's mightiest system to shame, holds the promise to solve certain types of very difficult, but very important problems. 

Scientists have made large advances including creating cables for quantum computers, developing quantum encryption techniques, and the development of the first commercial quantum computer by D-Wave, co-developed by NASA.  Much of the research into quantum computing involves using photons to store and convey information inside advanced computer systems.  However, light on an atomic scale behaves rather "spooky." 

On a silicon transistor scale, for the most part "on" or 1 means charged, and "off" or 0 means no charge.  On a quantum scale, on still means a charge, but "off" or absence of light still produces a lesser amount of atomic noise.  In other words, even if a photon is turned off, the quantum computer will still read a small amount of noise, disrupting measurements.

Scientists, after puzzling over this complex problem have come up with an outlandish solution -- creating a "squeezed vacuum" a space which has less than nothing, less noise than a space with no light.  Scientists managed to store and retrieve this "perfect dark" quantum zero.  The special vacuum is created by a laser beam directed through special crystals.  Squeezed vacuums have previously been created but not stored.  Typical uses are gravity wave detection. 

Teams of physicists at the University of Calgary and the Tokyo Institute of Technology independently demonstrated that a squeezed vacuum can be stored in a collection of rubidium atoms and retrieved when necessary.  The work appears in today's edition of the physics journal Physical Review Letters.  In it the researchers detail how they verified that the space remained squeezed when retrieved, compared to no light.

Alexander Lvovsky, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Canada Research Chair and leader of the University of Calgary's Quantum Information Technology research group, stated, "Memory for light has been a big challenge in physics for many years and I am very pleased we have been able to bring it one step further.  It is important not only for quantum computers, but may also provide new ways to make unbreakable codes for transmitting sensitive information."

The team's research followed Harvard-Smithsonian scientists' 2001 work that slowed light to a stop and physicist Alexander Kuzmich of the Georgia Institute of Technology's work, which led to a successful 2006 effort to store and retrieve a photon.  Kuzmich was enthusiastic about the new developments and said that the ability to squeeze space closer to an absolute zero in terms of noise promises to significantly aid in the development of quantum networks.  He marveled at the work and said of the progress, "It's a real technical achievement."

Lvovsky’s team next hopes to develop storage methods for more complex forms of light, such as entangled light, which can lead to exotic new uses and improvements in quantum computing.  


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RE: whooooosh
By lompocus on 3/8/2008 2:16:41 AM , Rating: 5
I just don't understand why not a single one of these is ever mentioned in any TV news station.

Let's just forget, for a second, that 99.9% of the population will never have heard the world 'quantum' before and that the first thing sub zero brings into their mind is Pepsi Zero.


RE: whooooosh
By s3th2000 on 3/8/2008 7:28:41 AM , Rating: 5
sub zero? i think of... MORTAL KOMBAT! :D


RE: whooooosh
By pxavierperez on 3/8/2008 11:28:15 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
99.9% of the population will never have heard the world 'quantum' before


What are you talking about? Wasn't "Quantum Leap" a popular TV show at one time. :)


RE: whooooosh
By lompocus on 3/8/2008 6:09:37 PM , Rating: 2
lol, I haven't even heard that one!


RE: whooooosh
By B3an on 3/9/2008 1:32:29 PM , Rating: 3
So it seems your've never heard of Sub Zero from MK (picture in the article even), or have never seen Quantum Leap? What rock you been under??


RE: whooooosh
By winterspan on 3/8/2008 9:06:35 PM , Rating: 1
Oh they have surely heard the word quantum, but wouldn't have the faintest of ideas what the actual physics term means. Instead, they hear words like 'quantum' used in all manners of bullshit product marketing having nothing to do with reality.

It's actually very sad and pathetic how bad the level of public scientific literacy is in the USA. At the same time I feel incredibly angry and frustrated that there is not more real focus on the problem. Instead, the population stays incredibly stupid and ignorant. Oh how the empire is crumbling....


RE: whooooosh
By Ringold on 3/9/2008 5:11:00 AM , Rating: 2
Generally speaking I agree that kids are socially promoted out of high school despite barely being able to read in some cases, but.. seriously.. Quantum physics needn't be taught in high school, or for the vast majority of college majors. That crosses the line in to specialized information that 99% of us will never need to know, will never find a practical use for, and will never care about except, potentially, out of curiosity. For those people there is Discovery Channel -- though I've slowly watched channels like Discovery get dumbed down over the years.

As an aside, I just read the graduation statistics for Detroit area high schools again today. My god. Detroit needs to be kicked out of the nation, perhaps given to Canada. Maybe just used for nuclear testing. It's a third world country. It's worse than many third world countries. If one read articles about it and replaced "Detroit" with "Zimbabwe", one would just nod their head and say "no surprise."


RE: whooooosh
By kyp275 on 3/9/2008 4:21:51 PM , Rating: 2
with a lovely mayor like good'ol Kwame, it's hardly a suprise :P


RE: whooooosh
By Ratinator on 3/10/2008 11:40:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
As an aside, I just read the graduation statistics for Detroit area high schools again today. My god. Detroit needs to be kicked out of the nation, perhaps given to Canada.


Yes, because in Canada they can at least get a real education.


RE: whooooosh
By FDJustin on 3/15/2008 5:23:15 AM , Rating: 2
We don't need your third world country. Just use it for medical and social experimentations and keep collecting taxes from it's unfortunate citizens.


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