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1  Other / Politics & Society / Trump Lite on: July 07, 2022, 10:20:44 AM
Meanwhile, in a benighted little backwater nation, just off the coast of Europe...

Boris Johnson has this morning finally acknowledged that his position is untenable, and has promised to resign as Prime Minister. I've lost count, but he's probably the last minister remaining, as all the others seem to have resigned their posts already.

However, he says he wants to remain in charge until the autumn. Given his Trumpish personality and history, will he actually leave voluntarily later this year, or is he planning to use the next few months to rile up his base of racists, xenophobes and other assorted bigots and half-wits, and turn them into his own private militia, ready to storm the Capitol parliament just after Christmas (say, Jan 6th?) and 'take back control'?
2  Other / Politics & Society / Glory on: December 05, 2021, 07:34:28 AM
What does glory mean within a society? I'm not interested in a superficial dictionary definition, or in a religious sense, more in why it is lauded and what might motivate someone to welcome it, or to strive to attain it, as an individual. And I don't believe it's a simple synonym for something else. What are the mental motivations and processes involved, specifically with respect to the relationship between the individual and wider society?
3  Other / Politics & Society / Data on impact of vaccination programme on: July 29, 2021, 03:19:43 PM
Public Health England (PHE) has just published a new vaccine surveillance report, here.

As anyone might reasonably have expected, the vaccination programme has had a huge effect. Estimates suggest that the vaccine has prevented 60,000 deaths and 22 million cases of infection. And this is just in England. Given that the population of England is c.56 million, these numbers are undeniably* impressive.

Every adult in England has now been offered the vaccine. Unfortunately there is still a degree of vaccine hesitancy... if the anti-vaxxers were a bit more open to changing their minds based on data, then the figures would be even better. Charts and tables sourced from the link above.









* undeniable by anyone who has even a rudimentary grasp of mathematics.
4  Other / Politics & Society / global abuse of cyber-surveillance weapon on: July 19, 2021, 07:37:38 PM
Has everyone been reading about the Pegasus spyware leak? Apparently some of the world's most authoritarian regimes have been using the software to target human rights activists, journalists and lawyers... 50,000 phone numbers in total. What do people think? Other than, sadly, it being hardly surprising... expect further detail to emerge over the coming days and weeks. Quotes and image are from the link below.

Revealed: leak uncovers global abuse of cyber-surveillance weapon

Quote
What is the Pegasus project?

The Pegasus project is a collaborative journalistic investigation into the NSO Group and its clients. The company sells surveillance technology to governments worldwide. Its flagship product is Pegasus, spying software – or spyware – that targets iPhones and Android devices. Once a phone is infected, a Pegasus operator can secretly extract chats, photos, emails and location data, or activate microphones and cameras without a user knowing.

Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based nonprofit journalism organisation, and Amnesty International had access to a leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers selected as targets by clients of NSO since 2016. Access to the data was then shared with the Guardian and 16 other news organisations, including the Washington Post, Le Monde, Die Zeit and Süddeutsche Zeitung. More than 80 journalists have worked collaboratively over several months on the investigation, which was coordinated by Forbidden Stories.

Quote
Which NSO clients were selecting numbers?

While the data is organised into clusters, indicative of individual NSO clients, it does not say which NSO client was responsible for selecting any given number. NSO claims to sell its tools to 60 clients in 40 countries, but refuses to identify them. By closely examining the pattern of targeting by individual clients in the leaked data, media partners were able to identify 10 governments believed to be responsible for selecting the targets: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, India, and the United Arab Emirates. Citizen Lab has also found evidence of all 10 being clients of NSO.

Quote
The phone number of a freelance Mexican reporter, Cecilio Pineda Birto, was found in the list, apparently of interest to a Mexican client in the weeks leading up to his murder, when his killers were able to locate him at a carwash. His phone has never been found so no forensic analysis has been possible to establish whether it was infected.











5  Other / Politics & Society / mRNA vaccines: A New Hope on: June 04, 2021, 02:41:32 PM

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/mrna_vaccine.png
6  Other / Politics & Society / How science works on: March 24, 2021, 02:21:02 PM
Some of you may have heard about the latest results from the LHCb experiment at CERN, which suggests (currently 3.1σ) a violation of lepton flavour universality and hence of the standard model of particle physics.

I thought it might be worth writing a post to highlight how physics, and science in general, advances. I'll leave it up to you to compare and contrast with how religion and other forms of truth work.

The standard model underpins the modern scientific understanding of the fundamental nature of the universe and all elementary particles. It's the ground upon which everything else is built. However, it's incomplete. There are gaps in the explanation - such as how it describes three of the four fundamental forces, but doesn't encompass gravity.

So the standard model is treated not as an absolute, perfect and inviolable truth. but rather as our best approximation so far. Instead of ignoring or glossing over its imperfections, physicists instead focus their attention on these areas, and work relentlessly to unpick the uncertainties and ambiguities. Essentially, they try to break it, so that its faults can be understood and new understanding can arise.

This can be seen in the way that physicists are reacting to the news. The basis of their understanding and expertise may be under threat, but instead of challenging this and trying to fortify their long-established positions, they welcome the new developments... because the search is for truth, regardless of whether or not it is desired or convenient.

Quote
"If a violation of lepton flavour universality were to be confirmed, it would require a new physical process, such as the existence of new fundamental particles or interactions," says LHCb spokesperson Professor Chris Parkes from the University of Manchester and CERN. "More studies on related processes are under way using the existing LHCb data. We will be excited to see if they strengthen the intriguing hints in the current results."
https://home.cern/news/news/physics/intriguing-new-result-lhcb-experiment-cern


... And this is how science proceeds. Previous theories are revealed to be simply approximations. Every advancement that tears down preconceptions is welcomed. Because the search is for truth, not for the reinforcement of an ideology.

https://lhcbproject.web.cern.ch/Publications/p/LHCb-PAPER-2021-004.html


... And here's an image of a high energy proton-proton collision from CERN, producing an explosion of more than 100 particles. Physicists literally breaking stuff in order to see what comes out of it, in an ever-advancing and never-ending search for truth.




edit: typo
7  Other / Politics & Society / Bill Gates, Covid, Climate on: February 16, 2021, 07:59:53 AM
A summary of the situation so far:

1. Visionary genius and self-made billionaire warns of the potential for a viral pandemic, and that we are not ready. From his 2015 TED Talk (The next outbreak? We're not ready): "If anything kills over 10 million people over the next few decades, it is likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than war"
2. Several years later a viral pandemic hits. We are not ready. Millions die, economies are trashed.

Ignoring the crazed ranting around the periphery*, his key message here is about learning from past events. Ebola was a wake-up call, and governments didn't wake up.
But we can now extend this by adding a third point:

3. Visionary genius and self-made billionaire who warned of the potential for a viral pandemic, and that we were not ready, warns that the effects of climate change will be far worse, and we are not ready. Again, his key message is about learning from past events. His conclusions are stark: "by 2060, climate change could be just as deadly as COVID-19, and by 2100 it could be five times as deadly." "In the next decade or two, the economic damage caused by climate change will likely be as bad as having a COVID-sized pandemic every ten years. And by the end of the century, it will be much worse"

It's one thing dismissing an idealistic Swedish schoolgirl, quite another dismissing the former richest man in the world who warned us of Covid. But still... who, if anyone, thinks that governments will listen this time?


*Bill Gates was the first one who mentioned this! He must have caused it! Conspiracy! He's a secret vaccine overlord! He's trying to depopulate the world! Microchips! Illuminati!
8  Other / Off-topic / London buses, football pitches, olympic-sized swimming pools on: February 12, 2021, 03:10:53 PM
In the UK, TV news and other media outlets often convert measurements into a more readily comprehensible alternative. For example, a newsreader might say that x 'is 34 metres long, or as long as three London buses'.

Do other countries have similar examples? And if so what are the units of measurement?

Here, it tends to be:

Distance: London buses (or sometimes double-decker buses)*
Area: Football pitches
Volume: Olympic-sized swimming pools**



*I have no idea why the height of the bus is relevant in a length measurement. Or whether a London bus is longer or shorter than a non-London bus.
**I assume 'olympic-sized' because that is a standard, whereas other swimming pools will vary - although the fact that most people will have zero experience of an olympic-sized pool is for some reason overlooked.
9  Other / Politics & Society / lame duck with baseball bat: a cornered autocrat on: November 08, 2020, 12:30:08 PM
I was wondering what sort of carnage a furious and vengeful Trump might wreak between now and Biden's inauguration, but then I found this article, which covers most of it. Apologies for yet another Trump/election thread but it's a broad discussion and I wanted to focus on a specific aspect: the immediate aftermath. What do we think will happen?

There has been talk of a self-pardon, or putting Pence in charge to pardon him for some of his most egregious offences. Not sure how successful this would be, but he'll certainly try - won't he? Another aspect to all of this is the vital Georgia run-offs. Will a couple of months of Trump-fuelled chaos give the Democrats these seats? Now that he's lost, it seems extremely likely that Trump's actions will focus even more on what benefits himself rather than the country. I'd imagine he couldn't care less what happens in future GA elections; that's a problem for someone else to deal with. And to what extent will prominent Republicans continue to back him? Will they break ranks? Will they continue to mostly support him given that almost 50% of voters still love the guy? Appreciate that the transition itself is largely handled by civil servants, so should be smoother than might be envisaged were it entirely Trump-managed. But still, lame duck, baseball bat...

Quote
“If Trump loses power he’ll spend his last 90 days wrecking the United States like a malicious child with a sledgehammer in a china shop,” said Malcolm Nance, a veteran intelligence analyst and political author, speaking before the result of the election was known.
“We’re likely to see the greatest political temper tantrum in history. He may decide he wants to go out with a bang, he may decide he will not accept the election result. Who knows what a cornered autocrat will do?”

10  Other / Politics & Society / How will Trump leave the White House? on: November 07, 2020, 09:53:49 AM
Assuming the Biden win becomes official, how will Trump leave the White House? Appreciate there are various definitions of 'official', and that we still have some time before moving day...
11  Other / Politics & Society / Machine Learning and the Death of Accountability on: September 11, 2020, 07:33:54 AM
Recently in the UK there has been a furore over algorithm-determined school exam results. The pandemic meant that pupils couldn't sit exams, and an algorithm was devised that determined what results each pupil would get. However, many pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, received worse than predicted results, whereas pupils from more affluent backgrounds suffered no ill effects. There were widespread protests at the perceived unfairness, and the algorithm was hauled out into the open and dissected. The formula was quite rudimentary, and the inbuilt bias perfectly clear for anyone with a basic grasp of maths to see. The outcome was  that the protests were upheld, and the unfair results overturned.

The reason this could happen is that the algorithm was devised by people. Their assumptions and their methods could be unpicked and understood. However, the trend, now that we are in the era of big data, is for machine-learning. Computers can devise much more efficient processes than can humans. If the same thing had happened in a few years' time, it is quite likely that the grades would have been determined by machine-learning, with initial data fed in, results coming out, and no human understanding how the processing from input to output works. Indeed, with the computer itself unable to explain (because we have not yet reached that level of AI). This combination of factors, machine-learning on the one hand, and the computer being unable to explain its reasoning on the other, leads to an absolute removal of all accountability for decisions that can have a profound impact on people's lives. Humans can argue convincingly that they have simply input some initial parameters, and had no part in the decision-making. But those machine-learning decisions can't be pulled into the open, can't be dissected, can't be understood. Machine-learning without sentient computers means that all accountability is thrown away. No-one is responsible for anything. Now this may change once AI reaches a sufficient level that a computer can explain its reasoning in terms that humans can understand... but that is years or decades away, and until we reach that point, the possibilities look quite scary. We live in a competitive world, and the advantages of machine-learning are too tempting for countries and companies to pass up. ML is pursued fervently, no matter the implications. Will we really throw away accountability for (and understanding of) a lot of really important decisions?
12  Economy / Economics / Remote Working and Inequality on: August 29, 2020, 11:33:20 AM
Crisis accelerates change. The CV19 lockdown precipitated a shift to remote-working for many people. Now lockdowns are lifting, and governments are keen to get people back into the physical office in order to increase city-centre footfall and ensure that bricks-and-mortar businesses can return to profitability - particularly those small businesses that rely on lunchtime traffic from the office. However, here we hit a problem. Governments want companies (plural) to succeed, and so their focus is on a return to previous ways of working... but individual companies are interested solely in their own (singular) viability and profitability. Individual companies have been hit hard by lockdown, we are seeing a lot of businesses being propped up by short-term government payouts, with the anticipation of large-scale unemployment once those payments inevitably cease. Companies are looking to cut costs, and retaining the current remote-working system offers huge benefits both in the short-term (no requirement to solve the unsolvable problem of getting everyone back into the office whilst still retaining social distancing) and in the longer-term (no need to pay huge city-centre rents and the associated costs of running a large office, insurance, utilities, maintenance, etc).

Many people want to continue to remote-work, companies have noticed that productivity has remained consistent during lockdown, and that continued remote-working offers huge financial savings... perhaps the death knell has been sounded for the culture of presenteeism.

If we can assume that a large amount of the new remote-working due to CV19 will remain remote in the longer-term, then does this help to reduce inequality within societies? The situation applies to many countries, but taking the UK as an example, cost of living in London (and to an extent the wider SE) is considerably higher than in the rest of the country. So with no need for people working for 'London companies' to live within or in close proximity to London, will there be a population shift towards rural and cheaper areas, a sort of reverse brain-drain of people still working 'London jobs' but now living elsewhere in the country? And the other side of this, will it create new job opportunities for people in poorer areas? A young graduate in a poor northern town might previously have been limited in their job opportunities because of a desire to remain in the area (for social or other reasons)... but can now apply for and work a 'city centre' job without leaving the area?

And looking further, will this then, eventually, lead to greater equality of opportunity across the world, if all you need to work a 'London job' or a 'New York job' is an internet connection and the ability to speak the language?
13  Other / Politics & Society / Dulce et Decorum est on: May 17, 2020, 11:18:31 AM


Quote
Stay alert! Lazy British working-class workers. Die at your posts for Dominic Raab. Die in your warehouses for Jacob Rees-Mogg. Die in your care homes for Dominic Cumming. Middle-class workers: Work safely from home at your laptops. Text each other photographs of your Ocado deliveries, and dream of Center Parcs and Forest Holidays. Once I found it funny that the prime minister’s perfect storm of public desperation, manufactured xenophobia and ruthless dishonesty had seen this self-serving turd float to the toilet top. But now it’s just frightening.
Quote
You may meet one parent at a distance of two metres while the other parent waits in the car. Or you could employ them both at your small business and see them as much as you want. Stay alert! Don’t see your children. But if you are a teacher, see dozens of other people’s children in narrow corridors.
source

It is no secret that the Conservative government in the UK values money more than people. They are re-opening sections of the economy, they are re-opening schools without employing any track-and-trace policies, without any PPE equipment, without any real guidance on how to implement and enforce the necessary social distancing - the guidance isn't there because it is clearly an impossible task to social distance on the London underground, on buses, in primary schools. The rich and the middle-classes get to continue to work at home, whilst the expendable poor are sent out as the vanguard. Those who have to travel into a city centre and don't have private transport will be at hugely increased risk of catching and spreading the virus - but it's okay, don't worry - they will spread it amongst themselves whilst everyone who can afford to continues to safely self-isolate, away from the unfolding chaos. Only the common people will be sent out to die, only the expendable poor. Fee-paying schools will remain closed. Schools for everyone else will re-open.

Schools are being re-opened because the government sees people as valuable only in terms of their economic contribution. The government wants to free up parents to go back to work, despite the dangers, despite the fact that R is very close to 1 and we are teetering on the edge of a return to exponential growth in new cases. Teachers don't want to return. Teachers' unions don't want them to return. Parents don't want their kids to return. Certain local authorities are refusing to re-open their schools. It is clearly nonsensical to reopen now, clearly unsafe, the R value is too close to the threshold.

Meanwhile the right-wing press continue to act as the government's mouthpiece, casting teachers as valiant heroes who are desperate to serve their country, battling the evil unions who are getting in their way...

... this is the same paper that has a somewhat questionable record when it comes to picking the right side


This post is aimed more at people who vote for right-wing parties than at anyone else. Presumably most Conservative voters would not kill their own family in exchange for money, but they are happy to support a party that wants to increase the national death toll in exchange for a small economic lift. Is this an astonishing level of cognitive dissonance, or simply the utter absence of empathy?
14  Other / Politics & Society / Sports during lockdown on: March 28, 2020, 08:16:07 PM
For those sports fans who are feeling a bit starved of action during the lockdown... don't worry, there is still plenty happening, and plenty to watch:

2020 Crossroad Dash
International 4x4 Pushchair Final
Tooting Dogging Final
Drag a Load of Tat
Dog Racing
Pigeon Dressage
15  Other / Politics & Society / Coronavirus simulators on: March 19, 2020, 05:31:49 PM
For those who haven't seen it, there's a great simulator here that demonstrates how quarantining and social distancing work.

And another one here showing how epidemics spread, the examples covering varieties of R0 values (how many cases an infected person will go on to cause directly) and Re values (similar to R0 but takes into account that some people will be immune). Comparisons are made between COVID-19 and something that is more contagious (measles), and something that is less contagious but has higher fatality percentage (ebola). There are also examples of how various precautionary and preventative measures can have an effect: masks/gloves, and then quarantines.

Have a look. It's not just dry numbers, these are highly visual simulators that can provide some real understanding of how and why viruses spread, and some insight into what can be done to stop them or at least manage them, and why these strategies work. Results will be different every time you run through these, but the overall patterns remain largely consistent.

Finally, a little more involved is this virus trajectory modeller, where you can move sliders to control R0, Re and other variables.






16  Other / Politics & Society / Nationalisation on: March 17, 2020, 12:24:59 PM
The Coronavirus is already hitting major economies hard, and the worst is yet to come. Many businesses are going to get hit really badly. At the moment it is airlines and travel companies bearing the brunt of it, but this will extend throughout society as quarantines and restrictions go on with no end date in sight.

We are seeing the first indications of (re)nationalisation of some companies:
France ready to nationalise virus-stricken companies
Spain has nationalised private hospitals
Italy is renationalising an airline

Is this the start of a wide-ranging renationalisation program? Governments are attempting to inject cash and put other measures in place to prop up stricken companies, but it seems likely this will be difficult. Fundamentally, when there is a crisis such as this, private companies competing against one another are ill-equipped to maintain the day-to-day running of a country. It seems that government control is the only way to do it.

Thoughts?
17  Other / Politics & Society / Media causing panic-buying and costing lives on: March 14, 2020, 08:38:19 PM
Take a close look at this image from what is normally one of my favourite newpapers, The Guardian. The article is about a supermarket having almost sold out of tinned tomatoes; the image shows a shelf with only a few cans remaining. However they forgot to crop the image. To the left, you can see a huge stock of tins of 'Tesco Chopped Italian Tomatoes'.


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/08/coronavirus-stockpiling-supermarkets-toilet-paper-hand-gel

I'm sure that once coronavirus started to escalate, a few people started panic-buying certain items, probably including tinned food. But newpapers and other media outlets are always desperate to get the latest exclusive, throwing out emotive and misleading headlines like anything. Surely it's the case that the panic buying escalated hugely precisely because of feverish reports of panic-buying.

Press freedom is important, but with that comes responsibility. Newpapers, TV news, etc. are right now abdicating that responsibility. They mislead people all the time, but when there is a serious situation such as now, with a global pandemic, their manipulation of the public is outright criminal. Look at what happened with that quarantine in northern Italy, leaked before it could take effect, leading to people fleeing the area in advance of the lockdown, and no doubt spreading the virus and costing lives as a result.

They are not reporting news, it's just the usual sensationalist crap, but right now it is creating panic and causing suffering and death. These people should be prosecuted.
18  Other / Politics & Society / Jeff Bezos saves the World !!! on: February 20, 2020, 10:03:55 AM
Everyone will have seen the announcement by the world's richest man that he is donating $10b to fight climate change.

Whilst it's a welcome gesture, it does smell very strongly of virtue signalling. And why does it have to have his name plastered all over it? The "Bezos Earth Fund". This presumably is what he thinks is the most acceptable wording of "Superman Jeff Bezos saves the World".

Perhaps he should just pay taxes instead. Perhaps he should look at how Amazon is contributing to climate change, rather than attempting to dissociate himself from his own business and rise from it like some (renewables-powered) phoenix from the (coal-fired) flames.

Amazon is one of the world's biggest polluters and has absolutely zero interest in preventing climate change, beyond maintaining a facade of ethical concern and accountability purely for PR purposes..

Okay, here are some facts and links:

More than 350 Amazon employees have spoken out about the company's disregard of and contribution to climate change, and its attempts to silence those employees. Comments are here and well worth a read.

Amazon threatens to fire employees who speak about the climate crisis.

Amazon funds climate-denying think tanks, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Amazon donates to politicians who are climate-change deniers. This includes "68 legislators who have denied climate change — including those who have voted against environmental legislation 100% of the time" (from poynter.org).

Amazon is happy to sell AWS to the oil and gas industries:
"The energy industry should have access to the same technologies as other industries. We will continue to provide cloud services to companies in the energy industry" It continues: "to make their legacy businesses less carbon intensive and help them accelerate development of renewable energy businesses", but there are no numbers here, it's just vague ethical hand waving.
https://www.aboutamazon.com/our-company/our-positions

Amazon was scored at an "F" by the Carbon Disclosure Project, and was "the largest U.S. publicly traded company not to participate"

... although they did admit in 2018 that their carbon footprint is 44 million tonnes, which is roughly 85% of the emissions of Switzerland.



19  Other / Politics & Society / Democracy 2020 on: February 02, 2020, 06:28:50 PM
Cambridge University have just published their Global Satisfaction with Democracy report.

I'll start off by saying, this is a huge study: "more than 25 data sources, 3,500 country surveys, and 4 million respondents between 1973 and 2020 asking citizens whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with democracy in their countries." ... so we can't realistically accuse it of being unrepresentative.

The results throw up a number of interesting points. Number one, I think it provides compelling evidence that Satoshi was right. Since the financial crisis, and the aftermath with banks being bailed out by weak/complicit governments and the general public paying the price, dissatisfaction with 'democracy' has soared. Economies are corrupt and failing. The bitcoin solution looks more relevant today than ever before.

... but this is the global trend. Dissatisfaction is not growing at the same rate in every country. Developed 'democracies' fare worst of all: "In the United States, levels of dissatisfaction with democracy have risen by over a third of the population in one generation." Many other big economies - Japan, UK, Brazil, Australia to take a few examples - are at or near all-time highs for dissatisfaction.

I think it is notable that in three of these big economies, we now have aggressively right-wing populist autocrats in charge - Trump, Johnson, Bolsonaro.

Democracy has been in trouble for decades, due primarily to growing levels of inequality. The financial crisis and its aftermath exacerbated the discontent. What we have seen since then is that the trust gap has been ruthlessly exploited by strongmen who have positioned themselves as outsiders who will represent the people against vested interests. Of course they will do no such thing. They are all staunch conservatives who serve the interests of the wealthy elite at the expense of the poor and the disenfranchised. It's the same old lies, with a different face - but the same different face everywhere, the same trick pulled in country after country: Modi, Erdogan, el-Sisi, Duterte, etc... the contempt for the public is so extreme that they feel they can repeat the process endlessly and we will do nothing about it.

The left rose in response, Sanders, Corbyn et al, but the powerful always have the media on their side (as they own it), and obviously money talks on social media as well, with Republicans, UK Conservatives etc ensuring the perpetuation of the status quo. In many countries, they have the military onside, too. So the establishment wins again.

Meanwhile, as the appallingly cynical exploitation of the system continues to develop, faith in democracy becomes ever more eroded. Have we reached a tipping point yet? Will we soon? Personally I don't think this can continue forever. We will hit a point where faith in democracy as represented in developed economies is so low that something will happen to change it. What that something will be is an open question. However, the case for bitcoin grows ever stronger.

Have a read of the report; there's a lot of interesting data in there.






20  Other / Off-topic / Quantum Decoherence on: January 08, 2020, 02:10:35 PM
One of the major obstacles to workable quantum computing is the problem of decoherence. A discovery has been reported that could pave the way for a solution...

A brief overview for those not familiar with QC: the advantage of quantum computers (for solving certain types of problem) is that the information is held in 'qubits' rather than the 'bits' used by classical computers. A bit can be 0 or 1, whereas a qubit employs quantum indeterminacy to be in a superposition of the states, a mix of 0 and 1 simultaneously. This has an important effect on scaling - the processing power of a classical computer scales linearly with the number of bits, whereas the power of a quantum computer scales exponentially (2n) with the number of qubits (1,2,4,8,16,32 etc rather than 1,2,3,4,5,6).

Perhaps the most significant obstacle to achieving a workable quantum computer is the fact that these qubits aren't stable. Their superposed quantum 'part 0 part 1' state tends to collapse extremely easily to the classical 0 or 1 values. Heat, light, sound, vibrations, magnets, any interaction with the external physical environment, can collapse the system and we lose the quantum data.



The problem is exacerbated as the complexity of the system (the number of qubits) increases. This means that it is extremely difficult to hold information in a quantum system for any length of time. The world record (as far as I'm aware) is from Nov 2019 at 75 seconds.

However research by a team from Munich has revealed a possible solution to the problem. They have identified a form of quantum quasiparticle that reforms after it decays, and so essentially can persist forever and retain that quantum data.

The discovery has only recently been made*, so a lot of work needs to be done to exploit this in a working model, but still, there is the tantalising possibility that the decoherence problem may have a solution, and we are moving ever closer to workable quantum computers.

(I wanted to append this post to the main QC thread, but I am the latest contributor there and didn't want to be accused of bumping - hope it's okay as a new thread)

*June, but flew under the radar a bit and is only really making the news this week.
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