NASA Purchases ‘Quantum’ Computer

NASA Purchases 'Quantum' ComputerA $15m computer that uses “quantum physics” effects to boost its speed is to be installed at a NASA facility. It will be shared by Google, NASA, and other scientists, providing access to a machine said to be up to 3,600 times faster than conventional computers.

‘Fractions of a second’

Unlike standard machines, the D-Wave Two processor appears to make use of an effect called quantum tunnelling. This allows it to reach solutions to certain types of mathematical problems in fractions of a second. Effectively, it can try all possible solutions at the same time and then select the best.

Google wants to use the facility at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California to find out how quantum computing might advance techniques of machine learning and artificial intelligence, including voice recognition. University researchers will also get 20% of the time on the machine via the Universities Space Research Agency (USRA).


‘Skepticism’

NASA will likely use the commercially available machine for scheduling problems and planning. Canadian company D-Wave Systems, which makes the machine, has drawn skepticism over the years from quantum computing experts around the world. Until research outlined earlier this year, some even suggested its machines showed no evidence of using specifically quantum effects.

Reportedly costing up to $15m, housed in a garden shed-sized box that cools the chip to near absolute zero, it should be installed at NASA and available for research by autumn 2013.

Do you think the quantum computer to be installed in NASA will be a great contribution to its projects? Feel free to comment on this latest technological development!

Source: Alex Mansfield, BBC News

Image: MIT Technology Review

Russian Meteor Blast Leaves More Than 1,000 People Injured

Russian Meteor Blast Leaves More Than 1,000 People InjuredA meteor streaked through the skies above Russia’s Urals region Friday morning before exploding with a flash and boom that shattered glass in buildings and left about 1,000 people hurt, authorities said. Described by NASA as a “tiny asteroid,” the meteor’s explosion created a blast in central Russia equivalent to 300,000 tons of TNT, the space agency’s officials said Friday, adding that the incident was a once-in-100-years event.

‘Deafening bang’

The injured included more than 200 children. Most of those hurt are in the Chelyabinsk region, though the vast majority of injuries are not thought to be serious. About 3,000 buildings were damaged — mostly with broken glass — as a result of the shock waves caused by the blast, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency said.

Amateur video footage showed a bright white streak moving rapidly across the sky, before exploding with an even brighter flash and a deafening bang. The explosion occurred about 9:20 a.m. local time, as many people were out and about. It was captured in vivid images by Russians, many of whom used dash cameras inside their vehicles.

‘Greater vigilance’

The national space agency, Roscosmos, said scientists believed one meteoroid had entered the atmosphere, where it burned and disintegrated into fragments. The resulting meteorites are believed to be scattered across three regions of Russia, one of them Chelyabinsk, as well as neighboring Kazakhstan, the news agency said.

Officials from around the world were quick to call for greater vigilance in monitoring meteors. NASA spokesman Steve Cole told CNN that scientists had determined that the Russian meteor was on a very different trajectory from the larger asteroid. Cole said he wasn’t aware whether scientists had foreseen the meteor’s entry into the atmosphere. Because meteoroids are small, they are hard to spot and there is often little warning that they are heading toward Earth, he said.

Have you ever witnessed a meteor fallout? Feel free to describe that phenomenal event here!

Source: Phil Black, Boriana Milanova and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Image: The Christian Science Monitor