Friday, February 02, 2007

A sneak peak at next week's quantum leap

Thanks to nanotech venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, we get a sneak peak at the core of a new quantum computer, which will be lovingly unveiled a day before Valentine's Day -- Feb. 13. Yes, you read that correctly. There is real work going on in the mind-boggling multiverse of quantum computing, where a shave and a haircut can cost anywhere from one to 65,536 bits (or qubits) at the same time.

I remember when Jurvetson's firm first invested in D-Wave Systems Inc. back in 2003. I was news editor at Small Times back then, and we just ran a brief on it because even we -- who had chugged the nano Kool-Aid -- found it difficult to believe that a quantum computer would be anywhere close to commercialization.

I also remember my surprise at Jurvetson's investment, since he has long maintained that while he's a believer in the long-term promise of molecular nanotechnology, come to him for money only if there's a short-term commercialization plan.

I should know better than to doubt Steve Jurvetson, who consistently proves the truth of a phrase credited to Alan Kay, whose work at the Palo Alto Research Center in the 1970s can be traced directly to the computer revolution of a decade later. "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

Or, in Jurvetson's case, to fund it.

Einstein's dice and the nano Sopranos

1 comment:

David Orban said...

Just wanted to let you know that after reading your post, and seeing Steve's photos on flickr, I signed up for the launch, and having received it the day before, on Monday, I hopped on a plane from Italy, to be there! It was great, and of course the jury is going to be out for the next two years or so before we know if this is going to turn into something useable, but for me it was still worth it. I also posted on Flickr the photos I took: Eric Drexler was there, and he had some interesting comments on the differences between scientists and engineers in problem solving, and the unavoidable conflicts in judging events like D-wave's.