Making Unbreakable Code

The quantum properties of photons could make encrypted messages absolutely secure

13 min read
Making Unbreakable Code

The battle between code-makers and code-breakers is centuries old, but at the start of the 21st century, could it finally be drawing to a close? Physicists are putting the finishing touches on a method of encrypting messages that is more secure than anything that has gone before. Unlike the ciphers of the past, this new method has the potential to be absolutely unbreakable--not just practically unbreakable, as the makers of the World War II Enigma machines thought and the users of today's public key encryption hope, but theoretically unbreakable. Mathematicians believe they can prove it.

Central to the technique are the strange laws of quantum mechanics that govern the universe on the smallest scale, and the ability to exploit physics on this scale has generated huge interest. Already experimental messages encrypted using quantum mechanics are being sent over tens of kilometers of optical fibers and received securely. Last summer the first portable quantum cryptography machine was unveiled at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Richard Hughes, the Los Alamos researcher who led the machine's development, says it can send encrypted messages through the air over dozens of kilometers and works day or night in good weather and in bad. And in Geneva, Switzerland, a small start-up, ID Quantique, has begun marketing a quantum cryptography machine.

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IEEE SIGHT Founder Amarnath Raja Dies at 65

The humanitarian program leverages technology for sustainable development

4 min read
Photo of a man in a blue "IEEE SIGHT" jacket in front of a flowering tree.

Amarnath Raja, an IEEE senior member, founded the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology in 2011.

Jaya Krishnan

Amarnath Raja

Founder of IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology

Senior member, 65; died 5 September

Raja founded the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) in 2011. The global network partners with underserved communities and local organizations to leverage technology for sustainable development.

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Hi-fi, Radio, and Retro: The DIY Projects Spectrum Readers Love

They also really like Lego and hacking pretty much everything

2 min read
An assortment of boxy devices, spread out as if on a display table.

Here are some of your favorite Hands On projects: An inexpensive but high-quality DIY audio amplifier (A) and its Web-enabled successor (B); an Arduino-powered replica of the groundbreaking Altair 8800 (C); a Raspberry Pi–powered color mechanical television (D); and (E), a home computer built with just five digital chips that uses an old hack to create an analog video signal.

James Provost

This month we’re celebrating the launch of our second PDF collection of Hands On articles, which IEEE members can download from IEEE Spectrum’s website and share with friends. So we thought we’d take a look at the relative popularity of Hands On articles published over the last five years and share the top 15 projects our website visitors found most interesting.

Just to give a little peek behind our analytics curtain, the measure of popularity Spectrum’s editors use is “total engaged minutes,” or TEM, which combines page views of articles with how long visitors spend reading them. We use TEM because we’re not terribly interested in grabbing folks with a clickbait headline, only for them to bounce out before they’ve finished reading the first paragraph.

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Learn How Global Configuration Management and IBM CLM Work Together

In this presentation we will build the case for component-based requirements management

2 min read

This is a sponsored article brought to you by 321 Gang.

To fully support Requirements Management (RM) best practices, a tool needs to support traceability, versioning, reuse, and Product Line Engineering (PLE). This is especially true when designing large complex systems or systems that follow standards and regulations. Most modern requirement tools do a decent job of capturing requirements and related metadata. Some tools also support rudimentary mechanisms for baselining and traceability capabilities (“linking” requirements). The earlier versions of IBM DOORS Next supported a rich configurable traceability and even a rudimentary form of reuse. DOORS Next became a complete solution for managing requirements a few years ago when IBM invented and implemented Global Configuration Management (GCM) as part of its Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM, formerly known as Collaborative Lifecycle Management or simply CLM) suite of integrated tools. On the surface, it seems that GCM just provides versioning capability, but it is so much more than that. GCM arms product/system development organizations with support for advanced requirement reuse, traceability that supports versioning, release management and variant management. It is also possible to manage collections of related Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Systems Engineering artifacts in a single configuration.

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