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Quantum Computing And The Value Of Storytelling In Science

Read Write Web - 9 hours 1 min ago

The Platform is a regular column by mobile editor Dan Rowinski. Ubiquitous computing, ambient intelligence and pervasive networks are changing the way humans interact with everything.

In Santa Barbara, Microsoft is working on the future of computing. Station Q is a Microsoft Research post staffed with some of the brightest mathematicians and researchers on the planet, working to solve the basic questions of quantum computing.

It makes for an interesting story.

On Thursday, Microsoft published an compelling tale on how its researchers and scientists are forging ahead in the race to answer the questions of quantum mechanics and eventually, build a stable quantum computer.

See also: How Researchers Map The Future Of Innovation

In a story titled “Station Q” written by Jennifer Warnick, Microsoft Stories presents an account of the scientists working in its Santa Barbara facility and how they are tackling the next evolution of computing.

It is an important chronicle, not just because it teaches people about the basics of quantum computing, but also because companies like Microsoft are in a race with other research facilities, universities and companies to draw as many of the top talented minds to their research efforts as possible.

A Story Of Quantum Computing

How much do you really know about quantum computing? If someone were to ask you what a qubit actually is and what it does, could you give a simple and well-reasoned answer?

Only a very small portion of mathematicians and computers scientists can.

Herein lays a problem. Quantum computing is the most important burgeoning field of computer science and research that could have the most profound evolutionary effect on the human race of any technology ever discovered. But most people have no idea what it is, what the challenges are or what researchers are doing to solve its most basic problems.

See also: The Futurists' Cheat Sheet: Quantum Computing

Part of the problem is that quantum mechanics is such a dense field that even the most astute scientists have trouble followings its scope. It is an extremely hard story to tell.

So, what is a qubit? Qubits are “quantum bits” and are the basis of quantum computing.

As Microsoft’s explains:

Quantum computers run on quantum bits, or qubits. Because of the bizarre properties of a quantum state, like superposition, a qubit can be a 1 or a 0 – or it can operate as both a 1 and a 0 at the same time. If one qubit, as both a 1 and a 0, can do two calculations at once, then two qubits can do four, and things get exponential pretty quickly.

Director of Microsoft Research Peter Lee explains how much more information processing quantum computing can generate compared to today’s binary systems based solely on 1s and 0s.

“It’s like that old story problem from math in school where you offer kids a thousand dollars right now, or to give them one penny today, two pennies tomorrow, and continue to double that every day for 30 days,” said Lee in “Story Q.”

The Value Of Storytelling In Science

A fundamental conundrum exists in in the realm of scientific research: those that know how to tell the stories of their work are heard (and subsequently funded) while those who are poor at storytelling are often forgotten and neglected, regardless of the quality of their work.

“I believe that scientists, in order to tell a good story, to capture the emotional acceptance of their findings in the community, is to start with that creativity,” said Hamid Ghanadan, a biochemist and science marketer at a TedxCambridge event earlier this year.

Ghanadan tells a story about the race to discover and present the basic principles of DNA between an American scientist named Linus Pauling and two English researchers, James Watson and Francis Crick. Of the groups, Pauling was the superior storyteller, at one point dropping seven “definitive” research papers on the scientific community at once, giving him prominence in the field and international recognition. The problem was, part of Pauling’s findings were wrong.

Watson and Crick’s research—which proved to be the foundation of much of modern biochemistry—ultimately was accepted into the mainstream scientific community. But Pauling’s creativity and storytelling prowess gave him and early lead.

A similar story plays out between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla in the “War of Currents” in the 1880s. Edison championed direct current (DC) electricity, while his former employee Tesla touted alternative current (AC) power. Edison took the early lead in the War of Currents because of his supreme storytelling ability and talents as a marketer and a salesman (and the money of J.P Morgan). Ultimately, Tesla won the War of Currents with his own charismatic storytelling capabilities (and the money of George Westinghouse) by winning the coveted contract to be the standard for power at the new hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls.

Director of Microsoft Research Peter Lee at the Microsoft New England Research & Development (by Dan Rowinski)

For scientists, storytelling is almost an evolutionary trait. The better story tellers get their message out there which means that their work will receive more scrutiny (and hence, validation if they are right) than lesser storytellers. Ghanadan notes that the creative mind then leads itself to the scientific method, helping scientist create and confirm hypothesis.

Microsoft’s Quantum Story

The story of Station Q on Microsoft Stories is an interesting one. But we can really boil it down to one basic principle: marketing.

Microsoft wants everyone to know how hard it is working on quantum computing and how quantum computing can be the next greatest thing in the history of technology and human evolution. Microsoft wants its name firmly attached to the future of computing, be it the current trends of clouds and devices or the opaque future of a quantum world.

Hence, it makes a lot of sense for Microsoft to come out with the Station Q story in the most attractive and compelling way possible, as overwrought and overwritten as the piece actually is.

Michael Freedman, Station Q’s director, is stately, fit, and well-tanned. He looks a bit like heroic police chief Martin Brody from the movie “Jaws” (played by actor Roy Scheider) who saves a small coastal town from a man-eating shark. At Station Q, located on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Freedman and his colleagues from all over the world, both inside and outside of Microsoft, explore the exciting, mysterious, difficult and downright strange space where computer science meets quantum physics.

The point for Microsoft do tell this story is precisely because storytelling matters. Station Q is going to want the brightest minds, the most inquisitive and talented researchers. The story of Station Q is essentially a recruiting document.

The battle for talent extremely competitive and bitter in the entire technological industry. Especially when the topic is the extremely rare realm of top notch quantum physicists.

IBM, Google, institutions and universities, the U.S. military (through DARPA) and other top research organizations all compete for top the top physicists on the planet. The organization that reach out to the bastions of that talent will be the ones that succeed in the future.

Categories: Technology

15 Smart Shelving Projects and Ideas

Design Sponge - 9 hours 1 min ago

If living in Brooklyn has taught me anything, it’s how to make room out of nothing. Matchbox-sized rooms; windowless, code-violating basement closets; hallways with a kitchen at the end of them—you name the crummy, overpriced apartment living situation, and chances are, some New Yorker has braved it. There are numerous ways to make do with these rathole-sized abodes, but one of the most effective is as old as time itself: shelving. Yeah, I know. Like, duh. Still, although shelving might seem like the most obvious space-saving technique out there, once you break the concept down, the options (and ideas!) are seemingly endless. From crates lined with wallpaper and mounted to a wall to a revolutionary way of looking at magazine holders, we’ve got fifteen of our favorite and most beautiful shelving ideas to keep you—and your teenie apartment—organized and happy. What are your favorite space-saving shelving techniques? We’d love to hear them! —Max


Categories: Design, Home Design

Skiva PowerFlow Octofire USB Charger ‘dances’ with 8 devices simultaneously

Coolest Gadgets - 9 hours 1 min ago

While we have seen some pretty impressive USB chargers in the past, including the XE4400 USB Battery and Wall Charger, none of them have the ability to juice up a fair number of devices simultaneously – and I am talking about more than five devices here. Sure, you can always daisy chain some USB hubs to your computer’s USB port, but chances are pretty high that those ports will be unable to deliver sufficient power to juice up whatever power hungry devices which you own that can be charged via USB. might have a unique solution that also looks good on any desk – the Skiva PowerFlow Octofire USB Charger.

In fact, the Skiva PowerFlow Octofire USB Charger holds the distinction of being the first-ever USB charger that comes equipped with eight ports, letting you charge up multiple devices all at the same time. This is touted to be a universal power solution for those who happen to deal with device overload in their lives. Considering how other multi-gadget chargers in the market tend to have up to 4 ports at most, which may only do one amp per port that is not optimal charging capacity, the Skiva PowerFlow Octofire USB Charger blows the mind away, offering double the number of ports and power.

In fact, the Octofire has a power capacity that lets it charge up 8 USB devices at the same time, with each at up to 2.1A/5V power. Not only that, it has Smart Device Detection capability, enabling it to intelligently detect the device while providing the required charging, ensuring that enough power is sent to multiple devices at optimal current simultaneously. In terms of safety, fret not as the Octofire sports an AC/DC adapter that is UL, CE, FCC, and RoHS Certified, ensuring it remains protected against overcharging, overheating, and over-voltage. The asking price? A relatively reasonable $79.99.

Press Release
[ Skiva PowerFlow Octofire USB Charger ‘dances’ with 8 devices simultaneously copyright by Coolest Gadgets ]

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Spite Houses Are Exactly What They Sound Like

Apartment Therapy - 9 hours 1 min ago

Of the many reasons one might build a house, spite may be the most petty (yet hilarious) one we've come across yet. But it seems that it's more common than you may think. There are a surprising number of houses that are widely known to have been built either to annoy a neighbor, block a view, out-do a relative or challenge a zoning law. Wanna see some of them?


Categories: Design, Home Design

Release Rundown: Sneakers Available This Weekend

Nice Kicks - 9 hours 6 min ago

The Shaq Attaq IV is back and the latest Lab release from Jordan Brand is set to hit retailers this weekend in the form of the Air Jordan 5 “3Lab5″ Black/Metallic Silver. Click through the latest Release Rundown below, and then let us know which kicks you’re copping this weekend in the comments.

Reebok Shaq Attaq IV

Model: Reebok Shaq Attaq IV
Colorway: Black/White-Team Dark Royal
MSRP: $140
Release Date: July 25, 2014
Where To Cop: Select Reebok Retailers

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Bear Hands Oven Mitts

Geek Alerts - 9 hours 13 min ago

Are you as hungry as a bear? Then dig your bear claws into some tasty food. But first you have to take it out of the oven. That’s where these Bear Hands Oven Mitts come in handy. Now, you can grab that hot food with your bare hands! I mean bear hands! Just put these […]

The Pirate Bay Launches A Mobile Website For Torrenting From Your Smartphone

Mobile Crunch - 9 hours 15 min ago
 Everyone’s favorite torrent site has just rolled out a mobile version: The Pirate Bay has now launched a new, mobile-optimized website it’s calling The Mobile Bay. Designed to work better on smartphones and tablets, like those running the iOS or Android operating system, the new site has an updated layout that’s easier to read and navigate. News of the site’s debut… Read More
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An unusual travel buddy in Nick Robles' new...

Not Cot - 9 hours 30 min ago
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Google’s Accepting Half of ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Requests, But Won’t Say How it Decides

Gizmodo UK - 9 hours 31 min ago
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Be First to Fly in the Air Jordan XX9 Today in Las Vegas

Nice Kicks - 9 hours 31 min ago

The latest model from MJ’s signature series will make its public debut today in Las Vegas, and Jordan Brand is doing it big. Although the Air Jordan XX9 doesn’t release in retail until September 6th, Sin City residents and current visitors will have a chance today to wear-test the innovative design, as well as an array of other activities at the First to Fly event. Posted up at the Cosmopolitan today, July 25th, and tomorrow, Jordan Brand invites you to experience the XX9 and hangout in an exclusive player’s lounge that will include a JB barbershop, massage station and gaming lounge, with live music and food all day. To keep the party going, there will also be a dunk contest, skills challenge, and multiple appearance by Jordan Brand athletes. Click here to learn all about the Air Jordan XX9, and get all of the official details on the First to Fly event here.

Air Jordan XX9: First to Fly

When: July 25th and 26th, 2014 (11 a.m.)
Where: The Chelsea Theater at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Lead image by @jermcon

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Categories: Too cool for skool

Budget Living: Living On Minimum Wage

Apartment Therapy - 9 hours 31 min ago

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Cool Pool Ice Cube Tray

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Batman Robin Puppy Costumes T Shirt

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We Only Just Discovered This Super Common Virus That’s Likely Inside You

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Hyperkin Retron 5 Bluetooth Wireless Controller is a worthy Retron 5 companion

Coolest Gadgets - 10 hours 1 min ago

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[ Hyperkin Retron 5 Bluetooth Wireless Controller is a worthy Retron 5 companion copyright by Coolest Gadgets ]

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adidas Response Boost Detailed Images

Nice Kicks - 10 hours 1 min ago

What do you get when you combine Boost technology, a Techfit upper and a classic adidas silhouette? The comfortable and versatile adidas Response Boost. Built for long runs and optimal energy return, this Three Stripes runner is ideal for year-round distance running. Check out our detailed images of the adidas Response Boost below, and pick up your own pair now at

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Should Brands Abandon Facebook?

Social Media Today - 10 hours 1 min ago
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