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New Quantum Computers Will Destroy Today’s Encryption Technology March 21, 2008

Posted by harish in technology.
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Future ‘quantum computers’ will offer increased efficiency… and risks
UCF Professor makes unique discovery, may revolutionize encryption technology

An unusual observation in a University of Central Florida physics lab may lead to a new generation of “Quantum Computers” that will render today’s computer and credit card encryption technology obsolete.

The observations are documented this week in the online version of Nature Physics under Advance Online Publication (http://www.nature.com/nphys/index.html ). The title of UCF Professor Enrique del Barco’s paper is “Quantum Interference of Tunnel Trajectories between States of Different Spin Length in a Dimeric Molecular Nanogmagnet.”

Consumers, credit card companies and high-tech firms rely on cryptography to protect the transmission of sensitive information. The basis for current encryption systems is that computers would need thousands of years to factor a large number, making it very difficult to do.

However, if del Barco’s observation can be fully understood and applied, scientists may have the basis to create quantum computers — which could easily break the most complicated encryption in a matter of hours.

Del Barco said the observation may foster the understanding of quantum tunneling of nanoscale magnetic systems, which could revolutionize the way we understand computation.

“This is very exciting,” del Barco said. “When we first observed it, we looked at each other and said, ‘That can’t be right.’ We did it again and again and we achieved the same result every time.”

According to quantum mechanics, small magnetic objects called nanomagnets can exist in two distinct states (i.e. north pole up and north pole down). They can switch their state through a phenomenon called quantum tunneling.

When the nanomagnet switches its poles, the abrupt change in its magnetization can be observed with low-temperature magnetometry techniques used in del Barco’s lab. The switch is called quantum tunneling because it looks like a funnel cloud tunneling from one pole to another.

Del Barco published paper shows that two almost independent halves of a new magnetic molecule can tunnel, or switch poles, at once under certain conditions. In the process, they appear to cancel out quantum tunneling.

“It’s similar to what can be observed when two rays of light run into interference,” del Barco said. “Once they run into the interference you can expect darkness.”

Controlling quantum tunneling shifts could help create the quantum logic gates necessary to create quantum computers. It is believed that among the different existing proposals to obtain a practical quantum computer, the spin (magnetic moment) of solid-state devices is the most promising one.

“And this is the case of our molecular magnets,” del Barco said. “Of course, this is far from real life yet, but is an important step in the way. We still must do more research and a lot of people are already trying to figure this out, including us. It’s absolutely invigorating.”

Co-authors of the paper are Christopher Ramsey from UCF, Stephen Hill from the University of Florida and Sonali J. Shah, Christopher C. Beedle and David N. Hendrickson from the University of California at La Jolla.

Del Barco, who is a native of Spain, began teaching at UCF in 2005. He got a Ph. d degree from the University of Barcelona before moving onto New York University where he worked with Andrew Kent, a well-known quantum physicist.

It was the warm weather and the dynamic of UCF that drew him and his family to UCF. Aside from teaching physics and working on research, Del Barco is a published writer. He penned a science fiction novel that has been published in Spain by Editorial Equipo–Sirius. He collaborates with scientists from around the world including researchers in Spain, Hong Kong and across the United States.

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COM-BAT swoops in to gather data on reconnaissance missions March 21, 2008

Posted by harish in spy gadgets.
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The University of Michigan’s COM-BAT most definitely isn’t the first mechanical animal to get its inspirations from the bat, but it’s probably the best equipped to play a vital role in modern day warfare. A select group of Wolverines have been blessed with a $10 million grant from the US Army in order to concoct a “six-inch robotic spy plane modeled after a bat [that] would gather data from sights, sounds and smells in urban combat zones and transmit information back to a soldier in real time.” Purportedly, the critter will eventually boast a bevy of sensors, miniature microphones and detectors for picking up nuclear radiation and poisonous gases. Even more interesting, creators are hoping to implement “energy scavenging,” which would enable the bat to stay charged from wind / solar energy along with vibrations and “other sources.” So much for being nocturnal, eh?

HTC Shift is finally coming to the US on the 24th with Sprint 3G March 21, 2008

Posted by harish in portable media.
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Ah, after long last, HTC’s first UMPC, the Shift, is finally making its debut in the US. The early results are in: the keyboard and the Sprint EV-DO are good, but the $1,500 price tag might be a bit heavy to swallow — especially considering our European counterparts are paying about $400 less, and we also get to tack on another $60 per month for the 3G.

HTC’s Dream again rumored to be first Android phone March 21, 2008

Posted by harish in portable media.
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We’ve been hearing about the HTC Dream (likely not pictured above) for what seems like an eternity on a tech timeline. Now “a person close to the situation” tells InfoWorld that the Dream is indeed HTC’s Android phone. Remember, HTC is widely expected to be the first from the gate with a retail phone featuring Google’s open source OS. The Dream is said to measure 3-inches wide by 5-inches long and feature a full QWERTY keypad that “either slides out or swivels.” Right, exactly what Forbes told us 5 months ago. Still, it’s always a good sign when the rumor mongers align. Whatever happens, we certainly expect the first Android phone to be exceptionally spec’d as a showcase of the OS’ power and possibilities to come.

Samsung’s Hauzen Cleaning Robot keeps floors, homeowners happy March 21, 2008

Posted by harish in household electronics.
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Samsung’s no stranger to automated floor sucking creatures, but the latest from the outfit is looking to give your Roomba a real run for its money. The Hauzen VC-RE70V sports a fairly attractive shell along with a built-in camera to “see” where it’s going; better still, it can reportedly snap pictures of rooms as it goes in order to build a map of your domicile in its “brain” and keep things quick on subsequent cleanings. Just like your Automower, this thing will also automatically move to its recharging station when it feels weak, giving you one less reason to even roll out of bed the day the in-laws are set to arrive.