Quantum Update: Simulating Life, Tuning Materials and a Free D-Wave Demo

Scientists discover that a quantum state of matter can be tuned 10X finer then expected, create “artificial life” by encoding genotype/phenotype in to a different qubit, and open up a free demonstration of D-Waves quantum computer.

An international team lead by Zahid Hasan from Princeton University have figured out how to tune a quantum state of matter 10 times more then what was  previously thought possible.

“We found a new control knob for the quantum topological world,” said Hasan, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics. “We expect this is tip of the iceberg. There will be a new subfield of materials or physics grown out of this. … This would be a fantastic playground for nanoscale engineering.”


Image result for zahid hasan princeton

Dr Zahid Hasan


A “state of matter” is defined by a significant shift in elemental behavior once a certain temperature is reached. A “quantum state of matter” is much much colder then a solid – close to absolute zero, when an atom completely ceases to vibrate.

Some compounds begin to exhibit uniquely symmetrical behavior when they are cooled down to a very low temperature. Instead of atoms adjusting their position to create ice crystals for example, electrons will begin to align themselves to form some sort of emergent symmetry. Since electrons operate under the rule set of quantum mechanics, the stage is referred to as a “quantum state of matter”.

Upon exposure to a strong magnetic field, these materials often form a six fold hexagonal geometry so Hasan and his colleagues were surprised to find that electrons in a kagome crystal actually began to form a linear 2 fold symmetry.


Image result for kagome crystal

Usual Kagome symmetry


Furthermore scientists discovered that they could change the direction of this line by changing the angle of magnetism allowing them to essentially “tune” the material.

“The electrons decided to reorient themselves,” Hasan said. “They ignored the lattice symmetry. They decided that to hop this way and that way, in one line, is easier than sideways. So this is the new frontier. … Electrons can ignore the lattice and form their own society.”

A cross-disciplinary team can actually program information to be read from subtle variations in angular momenta, similar to a kind of quantum clockwork which is why Hasan mentions the possible nano-engineering applications.



In other news a team lead by physicist enrique solano from basque foundation for science have allegedly created a form of “artificial life” with quantum computing.

Apparently this quantum computer is capable of replicating the complex process of Darwinian evolution, including interaction, mutation and even mortality itself. According to Solano every individual organism in his simulation is represented all the way down to the microscopic level by various superconducting qubits (entangled particles).

His team utilized IBMs five bit quantum computer available on the cloud.


Image result for ibm five bit quantum computer


“Life is a complex macroscopic feature emerging from inanimate matter, while quantum information is a feature of qubits—microscopic isolated objects happening in the universe of the very small,” Solano told me in an email. “Our research brought these amazingly sophisticated events called ‘life’ to the realm of the atomic and microscopic world… and it worked.”

One qubit represented the individual’s genotype, the genetic code behind a certain trait, and the other its phenotype, or the physical expression of that trait.

In order to simulate self-replication, his formula calculates the average value of all possible measurements you can make of a genotype and then programs that value in to a new qubit. Then, in order for mutation to lead to evolution they encode random rotations in to every genotype qubit such that they replicate genetic deviation.

Image result for genotype and phenotype

The algorithm also simulated interaction with the environment, including aging and death by entangling genotype qubits with another qubit that contains information about the phenotype which includes such things as expected life span in response to the environment.

Then they got these simulated organisms to interact with one another by entangling 2 genotype and 2 phenotype qubits together based on whatever genetic compatibility is encoded in to the genotype qubit.



D-Wave has opened up their quantum computer to the public for free, albeit with some limitations. Only one minute of D-Wave leap simulation is free, however that is a lot in the world of quantum computing

“A minute allows you to submit between 400 and 4,000 jobs,” says Baratz. Developers can get an additional free minute per month, if they make all their work open-source; or they can buy private time, starting at $2,000 per hour.

“D-Wave claims that they’re realizing production value from their quantum computer,” says Brian Hopkins, a Forrester Research analyst covering quantum computing. “I haven’t been able to verify that claim by talking to anybody who’s willing to tell me they’re doing anything other than running science experiments.” He goes on to say, however, that anyone who did get a competitive advantage using a quantum computer probably wouldn’t want competitors to know.

At the very least this would be a good way for people to familiarize themselves with the technology before it goes mainstream. The user interface currently includes two example  that demonstrate how quantum computing can be used to calculate ideal arrangements

One of them involves determining every integer that a number can be divided by simultaneously. A classic computer would test each number in sequence but quantum computers can perform all operations within 16 milliseconds. That’s 3998 problems in almost 1/50th of a second.

Another one examines the network of love-hate relationships in Shakespheres classic Romeo and Juliet, concluding that a stable re-alignment of relationships are not possible. It’s interesting to consider the socio-economic potential of quantum computing as well. For example – could they be used to predict civil unrest or trends in social media? If so, perhaps they are already are.

Certainly competitors wouldn’t reveal valuable information that could be used for profit or national defense?






Researchers Created ‘Quantum Artificial Life’ For the First Time

Scientists discover a ‘tuneable’ novel quantum state of matter


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