Mendeley Brainstorm – Quantum Computing – We Have a Winner!

Is quantum computing ready for prime time?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Quantum Computing; picking a winner was not easy, however in the end, we selected Rui Santos’s post:

Revolution, as a concept itself, implies a shift in the until now set paradigm of thinking and doing. As offered now, computing runs the output scenario in either ones or zeros. Computation power per second has been increased by augmenting transistor abundance in a chip and by decreasing their size – up to 10nm in some mobile device’s chips nowadays! That’s pretty impressive! But these are still increments – evolution within the same thinking. Ironically, transistors are getting so small, that to regulate them, we actually have to take in account quantum mechanics! Differently, quantum processors function by creating a third state, in which a qubit can be either a zero or a one simultaneously. While a discrete system can only be one thing at the time, a quantum system is all things all the time. If that’s not a revolution what is? The evolution is getting them working at room temperature.

We asked Rui where the inspiration for this post sprang from:

I love technology and although it is not my working area, i like to keep in check the new gadgets that are announce, like a new smartphone. I like to know the geeky details about their processors and technologies the equipments use that are so fantastic and still, very little of us thing about the huge amount of computing power that nowdays we have at the tip of our fingers. We keep forgetting that our current smartphone is thousand times or maybe millions times more powerful than the chips on board of the Apollo rocket missions!

I always enjoy debating about what may come next, and i truly believe quantum computing will revolutionate the way we see and program machines but also their output. I believe it can be a better future if so we desire.

Rui added:

I also want to take the time to thank you and the Mendeley team about the software you provide. I use Mendeley as my daily reference manager. As a PhD student i really need to keep track of publications but also to make my references in reports, papers or monographies. I have synced through multiple devices including my phone and tablet. I simply love Mendeley and always suggest it to whoever asks me about a reference manager. Once again, thank you.

You’re welcome, Rui!

Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm – The Gig Economy – We Have a Winner!

A word of services provided by the gig economy is just an app away. But are there problems with this convenience?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to The Gig Economy; picking a winner was not easy, however in the end, we selected Rita O’Connell’s post:

From the perspective of the dominant companies behind the rise of the gig economy, the prevailing designation of the gig workforce is not one of precarity, but rather of individuals who are “entrepreneurial” and “independent” – craving economic freedom, desiring control of their own work and lives. These companies will tell you that the advantages of flexibility and freedom far outweigh the sacrifices of having no “traditional” job security. However: we now know that the vast majority of people participating in the gig economy are working multiple jobs, for more than forty hours a week, at or below minimum wage, without any of the protections that accompany standard employment. Where, then, their freedom? The fact that this economic model has been promulgated largely by massive multinational companies who are seeing enormous valuations and unprecedented profits and growth on the global market – on the backs of an underpaid, undersupported, anxious workforce – points to the need to closely consider cui bono, and demand fairer treatment for the gig workforce before it’s too late.

We asked Rita what inspired her, she wrote:

I’ve actually been a beneficiary of the have it your way promises of the gig economy on and off in my career. However, during my graduate studies at the National University of Ireland Galway this past year, under the guidance of Cian McMahon I began looking more closely at the likely long term economic impacts of the gig model, thanks in part to works like Guy Standing’s The Precariat, and some excellent research the folks at Pew released in late 2016 (http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/17/gig-work-online-selling-and-home-sharing/) — it’s especially telling that the gig economy is obviously not just the brightly-sold “side hustle” allowing young people to pursue creative entrepreneurial efforts with more freedom, but is proving to be yet another social and economic trap for members of our already-vulnerable low-income communities. I now strongly believe we need to be shining a stronger light on the exploitative nature of the gig economy and insisting on new types of worker protections for independent workers if we’re going to slow our headlong rush towards a massive social disaster as this model systematically erodes the social safety nets previous generations fought for (and rely on).

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the last ever Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding Quantum Computing. Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm – Quantum Computing: Close to Prime Time?

Quantum computing promises a massive increase in processing power

Recently, PhD students at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology made a breakthrough in the field of Quantum Computing.  They successfully simulated a 45-qubit quantum circuit; this brings closer the day when current computers will be obsolete. Is quantum computing an evolution or revolution? What will be its effects? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes September 13, 2017.

A Revolution?

Quantum computing has been on the lips of computer scientists and computing enthusiasts for years.  By utilising quantum states, it promises to liberate computing from the traditional bounds of binary processing. This means that quantum computers, theoretically, will be massively more powerful than existing machines.

The Future is Near

It still remains challenging to build a quantum computer, however; the breakthrough by the Swiss students is a momentous occasion.  They’ve approached a milestone referred to as “quantum supremacy”, at which a Quantum Computer’s performance surpasses that of any current computer.

Effects?

The arrival of vastly more powerful machines could have a substantial impact on the field of artificial intelligence, certainly it will help in data processing.  How will this new technology affect us?  What is your view?  Tell us!

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

Quantum Computing Funding Opportunities

Opportunity Link
Ideas Lab: Practical Fully-Connected Quantum Computer Challenge Link
Development of single cooper pair boxes for quantum computing and photo-detection Link
Rolf Landauer and Charles H. Bennett award in quantum computing Link
Development of single cooper pair boxes for quantum computing and photo-detection Link
Quantum networking and processing with quantum memories and integrated components Link
ORNL Quantum networking post-bachelor’s position Link
PhD Studentship: Developing a trapped-ion quantum computer demonstrator device (2017) HURRY! AUGUST DEADLINE! Link
Dan Hunt PhD studentship: Quantum technology for finance and other commercial applications HURRY! AUGUST DEADLINE! Link
PhD Studentship: Advanced microchips for quantum technology devices HURRY! AUGUST DEADLINE! Link
PhD Studentship: Developing a portable quantum sensor HURRY! AUGUST DEADLINE! Link
Quantum networking -post-bachelor’s associate Link

References

Ward, T. (2017). Two Students Just Broke a Quantum Computing World Record. Futurism. [online] Available at: https://futurism.com/two-students-just-broke-a-quantum-computing-world-record/ [Accessed 6 Jul. 2017].

Mendeley Brainstorm – The Future of Energy – We Have a Winner!

Will the future of energy look more like this?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to The Future of Energy; picking a winner was not easy, however in the end, we selected Neil Frandsen’s post:

Folks, I write from the viewpoint of a mountain-born, high plains of Alberta raised, retired Seismic Surveyor. For ye Urb-folk, this means that I experienced heating using coal & wood, thru adding large Coleman Heaters burning diesel fuel, on to Natural Gas heating the water in a low-pressure (<25psi) steam radiator system, thru forced-air heated by natural gas, with an excursion to All-Electric Sleigh Camp (supplied by Borek Construction, of Dawson Creek, BC, Canada fame). All Electric heat, at temperatures below -30°C, suffers from DiHydrogenMonoxide’s nasty Hoarfrost Trick, which formed on the grid over the intake fresh air opening, and choked it off! The fuel consumption, of the 4 diesel-driven alternators, really drove home the efficiency hit that converting a hydrocarbon to electricity, then the electricity to heat, makes on your fuel stocks, be it on the High Arctic Ocean Ice, or be it 65 miles south of High Prairie, Alberta, in -40°C (and colder) temperatures. Yes, I experienced that Camp twice. I can easily imagine how Great Britain’s pensioners were making the harsh choice, between freezing to death, or starving to death, when the pricing of Electricity soared!

In the long term, Orbital SolarEnergy collectors, transforming the sun’s energy to microwaves that traverse our atmosphere thru the Low-Loss Window, are the simple solution. The Rectenna Farms may be placed on top of 15 meter tall supports, allowing farm machinery, and domestic animals free passage. The antennas of the Rectenna Farm do not block very much of the incoming daylight, allowing farming, dairy cows, and ranch animals the growth of useful plants. In treed areas, using the tops of hills makes logical sense, and only requires poles 25, or 30 meters high, so tree farming can carry on with little to block the growth of trees.

I see the soy-distant ‘Fast Charging’ of current battery-powered vehicles as risible.

For real fast charging, a pair of 4″ diameter copper cables, well insulated, and solidly clamped to massive granite blocks (reinforced concrete’s rebar would not react well to the electromagnetic fields made during real fast charging), would have to have coolant circulated under their insulation. The Battery in the vehicle would also have to be connected to a powerful coolant circulating system during charging, which must be left doing cooling until the battery had settled down!

In winter, ordinary batteries suffer a performance hit from cold temperatures.

The battery must also supply energy to heat the passenger cabin, plus defrosting air that must be heated, and blown across the glazings, so the driver may see where he/she/it is going.

Self-driving vehicles must be able to ‘see’: I suggest a multi-spectral arrangement: across visible light; IR; and a useful short wavelength radar, to enable distinguishing among solid ground, snow-covered ground, and either snow, or ice that has naught but air beneath it.

The ‘battery’ that uses propane, CH4, or H2, as fuel, the Fuel Cell, is actually a better bet than a mere battery bank, due to the exothermic nature of the Fuel Cell’s work = in winter, especially in Arctic Winter, Propane will effectively stop self-converting to propane gas, because the tank’s environment is not supplying enough heat! The simple device that controls the pressure-drop, from Tank to Fuel Cell’s fuel line, has a bellows. That bellows gets warmer/colder than the ambient air, thus collecting H2O, which freezes, and may build up enough to stop the work of the Bellows. Which is why you see 100W incandescent light bulbs carefully arranged under duct-taped cardboard windshields affixed to each Pressure-Reducer device, to keep the Bellows warm, and free from ice.

I challenge the Fuel Cell folk to create a device which keeps each Fuel Call vehicle from dribbling water along the road, thus enhancing the black ice cover for following vehicles to cope with!

We asked Neil what inspired him, he wrote:

The question of Energy Supply is a very complex situation, and has given rise to lots of different “Solutions”!

I first looked into WindPower, and Solar Power, and lots of Batteries, as a solution to the huge cost of flying in all the Gasoline, Diesel Fuel Jet Fuel, and Propane, to our Petty-Ray seismic camp on the Alberta Forestry DFB-6 emergency E-W Grass-surfaced Airstrip, of DC-3 length, built upon a nice level-topped, very wide Esker, in the summer of 1964. I was 25 that summer, and pitchforked from being a simple Field Clerk, to being the Seismic Crew’s Manager, when Dick (the regular Manager) had to go to Calgary, Alberta, then into the NWT to set up his Winter seismic crew’s barge-delivered supplies, on the Mackenzie River.

We were approximately 90 miles WNW of High Level, Alberta, which was still using the original High Level Airport (three gravel-surfaced runways, iirc). Our supply-run aircraft were Cessna 185; Beech-18, and DC-3, with an actual twin-engined Boeing 247 (yes, thick wings, no flaps, and electric-screws for retracting the main gear, I do not remember the arrangement for the tail-wheel). The costs, of flying-in everyone, and all supplies, was horrible, such that even our Seismic Crew, which recorded 10 miles per day, was running a cost per mile of over C$5,000.00, charged to our Client.

Therefore, I checked into how much windpower, and solarpower would cost, including the costs of setup, and collapsing the towers, and the rotors, the costs of unfurling, and furling, the folded solarpanels, and the costs of hauling the extra weight & volume of equipment to a new Camp Site.

Unfortunately, the reliability of wind, and of solar, power was such that the Battery Bank needed was excessively costly. Adding a supplemental Diesel-fueled Power Plant allowed the battery bank size to drop down to ‘only’ a 40-foot-long semi-trailer full of lead-acid batteries, but the Diesel-fueled Power Plant had to be the size of the one we were already running!

I continued to follow the improvements in WindPower Turbines, and in Solar Power systems (the German engineering company, who erected the 50kW updraft windpower in Spain is the only one to work out a reliable solution, to harvesting tamed windpower by using solarpower to heat the ground under the extensive glazing surrounding the Power Tower).

A few years back, we energy eaters, in Baen Books “Baens Bar” website, chatted about practical ways to harvest the floods of energy roaring past our Globe. The consensus was for the Orbital Collectors, converting the energy into microwaves that used the least lossy ‘window’ in Earth’s atmosphere, to energize Rectennas on top of poles, in Rectenna Farms. The Down-going ‘Beam’ could be sent using a phased array of emitters, thus avoiding the weight of a parabollic antenna, plus using a Beam Energy intensity too low to hurt any animals, or hurt any plant life.

To get the electricity to customers, burying a Cryo-temperature loss-free cable inside a Natural Gas pipeline, in existing Pipeline right of ways, was suggested, and one of us (not I) created a well-thought-out plan to improve the North American Power Grid, by utilizing such Power Lines. I see that method as a way to save a lot of electricity nowadays lost to the realities of long-distance A/C 60-cycle transmission.

My educational background includes only 2 of the 4 years needed to pass the University of Alberta (Edmonton) Engineering courses. That is where I learned my Surveying Theory, my Drafting Skills, and honed my abilities to extract information from books, periodicals, and brain-picking of fellow workers. The Borek Construction folks included Catskinners with experiences in Antarctica, as well as the Canadian Arctic, and their own home forests, and fields, around Dawson Creek, BC.

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding The Gig Economy. Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm – The Gig Economy: Potent or Precarious?

The gig economy has made services cheaper and more convenient; but is there a downside?

The “gig economy” is a fact of life. To “Uber” has become a verb. Airbnb is ubiquitous. People sell their skills in short term engagements via freelancing websites. This has opened up a world of low-cost services; however, is the gig economy’s destruction of secure employment worth it? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes July 12, 2017.

A New Economy

People used to “take a taxi” or “get a cab”, now they just as readily “Uber” to wherever they want to go. This shift in language is indicative of a broader change in the economy: with Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and other services, people are becoming accustomed to ordering services online from contracted individuals who are “paid by the gig”.

The Upsides

Anyone who has had trouble getting a cab in the middle of a crowded city can appreciate the convenience and low cost of utilising Uber. Airbnb offers real experiences of living in a location rather than a sanitised venue. Being able to hire a freelancer to do everything from design birthday cards to editing manuscripts is extremely convenient and much cheaper than it once was.

The Downsides

Employment in the gig economy is precarious and not necessarily well paid. Furthermore, secure professions like taxi driver and employment in hotels is under threat. Competing in a world, online marketplace tends to favour lower cost providers.

The Future?

Is the Gig Economy just a fact of life? Or can we make changes to lessen its downsides? What is your view? Tell us!

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

Mendeley Brainstorm – The End of Driving – We Have a Winner!

Driving can be put beyond the reach of human error; but is that a mistake?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to The End of Driving; picking a winner was difficult, however in the end, we selected Anikó Tóth’s post:

Repeatedly through history, we’ve built machines that do what we do, better. Today, we’ve progressed from labor-saving to IQ-saving devices: machines that think and act so that we don’t have to ourselves. Do I believe that driverless cars would eventually make transportation safer? Absolutely. They will follow the rules, react lightning-fast, and simultaneously integrate input from multiple sensors. We still face challenges, of course. You know when that schmuck in the BMW is about to cut you off…but how to teach such intuition to a machine? Then there’s the cyber battle, crucial for the security of these devices. As we accept driverless cars, we must understand that many will inevitably become helpless without them—and this, not the engineering, is our chief peril. I know people who couldn’t drive a manual to save their lives, or get lost en route to the supermarket without a gps. Where does it end?

We asked Anikó what inspired her, she wrote:

My answer actually had nothing to do with my research (I’m a paleontologist/macroecologist phd student). It stemmed from a personal and family philosophy that is equal parts old-fashioned and progressive. As a scientist who comes from a family of mathematicians, engineers, and scientists I believe deeply in the power of technology to change the world. I also believe it is vitally important to understand and remember the things that made us human (Who do you know that can build a fire? Cook/bake from scratch? Read a map? Wire up a radio? Defend themselves physically? Have a meaningful conversation with a stranger? Sew? Do maths? First aid? Change a flat tire? the list goes on). Of course, making forward progress while keeping in touch with your roots is challenging, but challenges bring out the best in us, do they not?

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding The Future of Energy. Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm – The Future of Energy

Britain stopped using coal for a day; will a day come when it is no longer used?

On the 21st of April, Great Britain experienced its first day without burning any coal since the 19th century. According to the National Grid, the energy was provided by natural gas, followed by nuclear and renewables. Given this example, what will our future energy mix look like? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes June 14, 2017.

Making a Fossil of a Fuel

Coal powered the industrial revolution in Great Britain. However, as of the 21st of April, it was clear that the country is no longer dependent upon this once ubiquitous fuel. Britain’s energy on April 21, in descending order, came from natural gas, nuclear, wind, biomass and solar.

Back to the Past?

Not everyone is so keen on this development. In March, US President Donald Trump lifted a temporary ban on coal leases; his popularity in states like West Virginia was based on the promise to bring coal mines back into operation.

Powering the Future

However, the continued use of fossil fuels has a significant environmental cost. The World Health Organisation estimated in 2012 that up to 7 million deaths in that year were attributable to air pollution. Additionally, most climate scientists state that burning fossil fuels is wreaking havoc with the Earth’s climate.

What Next?

Given that Britain has shown that we can stop using at least one fossil fuel, what’s next? What will be the energy source of the future? Tell us!

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

Fears, D. (2017). Donald Trump promises to bring back coal jobs but experts disagree. The Independent. [online] Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-coal-mining-jobs-promise-experts-disagree-executive-order-a7656486.html [Accessed 8 May 2017].

Golson, J. (2017). Britain goes a day without coal-fired power for first time since the 1880s. The Verge. [online] Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2017/4/23/15395754/coal-great-britain-electricity-power-plant [Accessed 8 May 2017].