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Key Step Toward a Silicon Quantum Computer

Physicists read spin from a single electron in a silicon chip

3 min read
Key Step Toward a Silicon Quantum Computer

6 October 2010—In a triumph of experimental physics, a team of scientists led by Andrea Morello and Andrew Dzurak of the University of New South Wales, in Australia, report that they have managed to detect the magnetic state, or spin, of a single electron in a silicon chip. This is the first time that such a feat has been accomplished, and it is a promising step toward the development of silicon-based quantum computers, say the scientists.

Quantum computers, in contrast to those you use every day, seek to harness the laws of quantum mechanics to speed up calculations. These still-experimental machines hold out the promise of doing in seconds certain tasks that would take conventional computers years to complete. Quantum computing is a relatively new field, however, and only rudimentary machines have been built so far. Part of the problem with building large quantum computers is that large quantum systems do not hold information for long; they rapidly "decohere," in the parlance of quantum mechanics.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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