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A cavity containing a squeezed vacuum, developed at the California Institute of Tech in separate research. The University of Calgary and Tokyo Institute of Technology research uses a similar squeezed vaccum to store "less than nothing".  (Source: California Institute of Technology)
"Less than nothing" is the new zero

The world of quantum mechanics is filled with outlandish physical phenomena --  including everything from perpetual motion to teleportation.  Scientists have sought, in recent years, to exploit these phenomena to create the ultimate computing machine.  Such a computer, which would put even Intel or IBM's mightiest system to shame, holds the promise to solve certain types of very difficult, but very important problems. 

Scientists have made large advances including creating cables for quantum computers, developing quantum encryption techniques, and the development of the first commercial quantum computer by D-Wave, co-developed by NASA.  Much of the research into quantum computing involves using photons to store and convey information inside advanced computer systems.  However, light on an atomic scale behaves rather "spooky." 

On a silicon transistor scale, for the most part "on" or 1 means charged, and "off" or 0 means no charge.  On a quantum scale, on still means a charge, but "off" or absence of light still produces a lesser amount of atomic noise.  In other words, even if a photon is turned off, the quantum computer will still read a small amount of noise, disrupting measurements.

Scientists, after puzzling over this complex problem have come up with an outlandish solution -- creating a "squeezed vacuum" a space which has less than nothing, less noise than a space with no light.  Scientists managed to store and retrieve this "perfect dark" quantum zero.  The special vacuum is created by a laser beam directed through special crystals.  Squeezed vacuums have previously been created but not stored.  Typical uses are gravity wave detection. 

Teams of physicists at the University of Calgary and the Tokyo Institute of Technology independently demonstrated that a squeezed vacuum can be stored in a collection of rubidium atoms and retrieved when necessary.  The work appears in today's edition of the physics journal Physical Review Letters.  In it the researchers detail how they verified that the space remained squeezed when retrieved, compared to no light.

Alexander Lvovsky, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Canada Research Chair and leader of the University of Calgary's Quantum Information Technology research group, stated, "Memory for light has been a big challenge in physics for many years and I am very pleased we have been able to bring it one step further.  It is important not only for quantum computers, but may also provide new ways to make unbreakable codes for transmitting sensitive information."

The team's research followed Harvard-Smithsonian scientists' 2001 work that slowed light to a stop and physicist Alexander Kuzmich of the Georgia Institute of Technology's work, which led to a successful 2006 effort to store and retrieve a photon.  Kuzmich was enthusiastic about the new developments and said that the ability to squeeze space closer to an absolute zero in terms of noise promises to significantly aid in the development of quantum networks.  He marveled at the work and said of the progress, "It's a real technical achievement."

Lvovsky’s team next hopes to develop storage methods for more complex forms of light, such as entangled light, which can lead to exotic new uses and improvements in quantum computing.  

Comments     Threshold

By rodrigu3 on 3/7/2008 10:10:08 PM , Rating: 5
Sounds awesome, but I didn't understand a word...

RE: whooooosh
By ImSpartacus on 3/7/08, Rating: -1
RE: whooooosh
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 3/7/2008 10:27:41 PM , Rating: 5
This will be consumer tech, sooner than you'd think :)

RE: whooooosh
By jadeskye on 3/7/2008 10:43:15 PM , Rating: 5
i think it's excellent how DT covers this cutting edge science. i will admit i understand very little of it so perhaps a lil 'dumbing down' should be looked into.

but all the same it's fantastic. do more DT! ^__^

RE: whooooosh
By firewolfsm on 3/7/2008 11:09:58 PM , Rating: 5
It is dumbed down though. That's as simple as it gets, now I have to find a decent source that doesn't leave out all the info.

RE: whooooosh
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 3/7/2008 11:13:33 PM , Rating: 2
RE: whooooosh
By jadeskye on 3/7/2008 11:51:14 PM , Rating: 4
*picks my brain up off the floor*

RE: whooooosh
By Samus on 3/9/2008 2:14:02 PM , Rating: 2
thanks kris, that link made my brain feel like it's in a sub-zero vacuum ^_^

RE: whooooosh
By ImSpartacus on 3/10/2008 5:35:01 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, it is dumbed down. And it's still so new, no one even gets it. So what's the point of reporting something like that? I'll admit, I like how it is centered around technology possibilities, but it is still too new for many of us to appreciate.

RE: whooooosh
By Xodus Maximus on 3/7/2008 10:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah...coming soon... you thought the Dyson Vaucum really sucked, imagine one powered by Quantum Zero tech :P

I'm just being factitious, but it really seems that with all the "breakthroughs" DT reports on we should be in a whole new world by now.

RE: whooooosh
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 3/7/2008 10:50:21 PM , Rating: 2
Who needs a Dyson Vacuum when you have a Dyson Sphere :)

RE: whooooosh
By Xodus Maximus on 3/7/2008 11:03:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah but with a Dyson Sphere comes Scotty, I'm just not sure its worth the aggravation ;)

RE: whooooosh
By lompocus on 3/8/2008 2:16:41 AM , Rating: 5
I just don't understand why not a single one of these is ever mentioned in any TV news station.

Let's just forget, for a second, that 99.9% of the population will never have heard the world 'quantum' before and that the first thing sub zero brings into their mind is Pepsi Zero.

RE: whooooosh
By s3th2000 on 3/8/2008 7:28:41 AM , Rating: 5
sub zero? i think of... MORTAL KOMBAT! :D

RE: whooooosh
By pxavierperez on 3/8/2008 11:28:15 AM , Rating: 3
99.9% of the population will never have heard the world 'quantum' before

What are you talking about? Wasn't "Quantum Leap" a popular TV show at one time. :)

RE: whooooosh
By lompocus on 3/8/2008 6:09:37 PM , Rating: 2
lol, I haven't even heard that one!

RE: whooooosh
By B3an on 3/9/2008 1:32:29 PM , Rating: 3
So it seems your've never heard of Sub Zero from MK (picture in the article even), or have never seen Quantum Leap? What rock you been under??

RE: whooooosh
By winterspan on 3/8/2008 9:06:35 PM , Rating: 1
Oh they have surely heard the word quantum, but wouldn't have the faintest of ideas what the actual physics term means. Instead, they hear words like 'quantum' used in all manners of bullshit product marketing having nothing to do with reality.

It's actually very sad and pathetic how bad the level of public scientific literacy is in the USA. At the same time I feel incredibly angry and frustrated that there is not more real focus on the problem. Instead, the population stays incredibly stupid and ignorant. Oh how the empire is crumbling....

RE: whooooosh
By Ringold on 3/9/2008 5:11:00 AM , Rating: 2
Generally speaking I agree that kids are socially promoted out of high school despite barely being able to read in some cases, but.. seriously.. Quantum physics needn't be taught in high school, or for the vast majority of college majors. That crosses the line in to specialized information that 99% of us will never need to know, will never find a practical use for, and will never care about except, potentially, out of curiosity. For those people there is Discovery Channel -- though I've slowly watched channels like Discovery get dumbed down over the years.

As an aside, I just read the graduation statistics for Detroit area high schools again today. My god. Detroit needs to be kicked out of the nation, perhaps given to Canada. Maybe just used for nuclear testing. It's a third world country. It's worse than many third world countries. If one read articles about it and replaced "Detroit" with "Zimbabwe", one would just nod their head and say "no surprise."

RE: whooooosh
By kyp275 on 3/9/2008 4:21:51 PM , Rating: 2
with a lovely mayor like good'ol Kwame, it's hardly a suprise :P

RE: whooooosh
By Ratinator on 3/10/2008 11:40:19 AM , Rating: 2
As an aside, I just read the graduation statistics for Detroit area high schools again today. My god. Detroit needs to be kicked out of the nation, perhaps given to Canada.

Yes, because in Canada they can at least get a real education.

RE: whooooosh
By Captain Orgazmo on 3/8/2008 1:40:26 AM , Rating: 3
And not in the way you'd think either:
"Coke Sub-Zero: sucks the calories right out of your flabby... posterior"

RE: whooooosh
By prenox on 3/8/2008 6:14:04 PM , Rating: 3
Is Coke Sub-Zero some sort of prostitute?

RE: whooooosh
By Captain Orgazmo on 3/11/2008 3:52:26 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks, I damn near crapped myself at that...

RE: whooooosh
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 3/10/2008 10:24:51 AM , Rating: 2
Its all vaporware until it hits the streets.

RE: whooooosh
By ImSpartacus on 3/10/2008 5:31:21 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. Until I see a prototype at a tech show, I'm not sold. I understand you have to start somewhere, but I don't need to know the history of something that will hit mainstream in 2020. Just my opinion.

RE: whooooosh
By GTVic on 3/8/2008 4:46:23 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, you wouldn't want to learn anything or maybe over stretch your brain... Please go back to watching American Idol...

RE: whooooosh
By Misty Dingos on 3/8/2008 11:41:25 AM , Rating: 2
'Oh I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself the king of infinite space!' These may be truer words than we ever thought.

Spartacus who ironic you name yourself after a people that disdained almost all forms of learning except warfare.

RE: whooooosh
By deeznuts on 3/8/2008 2:17:57 PM , Rating: 1
Spartacus? When you mentioned nutshell I thought of Austin Powers:
No, this is me in a nutshell: "Help! I'm in a nutshell! How did I get into this bloody great big nutshell? What kind of shell has a nut like this?"

RE: whooooosh
By masher2 (blog) on 3/8/2008 5:00:28 PM , Rating: 3
> "Spartacus who ironic you name yourself after a people that disdained almost all forms of learning except warfare. "

Eh? Your history is a bit off. Spartacus was a Roman slave, the leader of history's most famous slave revolt. You're thinking of the Spartans, who were several centuries earlier and several hundred miles away.

RE: whooooosh
By punko on 3/10/2008 4:52:17 PM , Rating: 2
> "Spartacus who ironic you name yourself after a people that disdained almost all forms of learning except warfare. "

Eh? Your history is a bit off. Spartacus was a Roman slave, the leader of history's most famous slave revolt. You're thinking of the Spartans, who were several centuries earlier and several hundred miles away.

I believe the parent was trying to imply that Spartacus was named after the Spartans. This is a reasonable conjecture given the similarity of the names, however, probably not the case as Spartan is the Anglicized version of the Greek name, while Spartacus was actual name of the individual.

RE: whooooosh
By ImSpartacus on 3/10/2008 5:22:12 PM , Rating: 2
You really are reading too much into it. It's a name. So I assume you have a misty aura filled with "dingos"? And besides, Spartacus was a person, not a people.

RE: whooooosh
By etherreal777 on 3/10/2008 12:11:47 AM , Rating: 1
If you want dumbed down tech, go hit a mainstream news site and let the rest of us DT readers get our geek on...

RE: whooooosh
By wavetrex on 3/7/2008 10:26:46 PM , Rating: 2
I've been reading so many articles about quantum computing in the last 10 years, but none of them really make sense.

And still there is no commercial product related to Q.C.

"It's a real technical achievement."

What -exactly- did they achieve with this one ?

RE: whooooosh
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 3/7/2008 10:40:06 PM , Rating: 2
One more stepping stone on the way to quantum entanglement, quantum teleportation, quantum logic gates ...

The fact that scientists can store and retrieve "nothing" means we've successfully found a way to create a binary computer on the sub atomic scale.

The smallest practical size we can store a one and a zero is a few nanometers via exotic memory structures. The smallest experimental size we could store binary one and zero are a few atoms. With this, we're talking about storing binary one and zero on sub atomic scales.

Interestingly, this sort of debunks Rudy Rucker's thoughts on singularity: that we could not simulate "virtual" reality because it takes many atoms to simulate reality as it would to replicate it. Not true when we can store information on the sub atomic scale.

Neat times we live in :) Be proud that you'll be able to one day say you saw it unfold

RE: whooooosh
By SuckRaven on 3/7/2008 11:39:07 PM , Rating: 2
"Scientists managed to store and retrieve this "perfect dark" quantum zero."

No they didn't. =) Developer RARE and publisher Microsoft Game Studios were all over it back in 2005 when they released Perfect Dark Zero for the XBOX360. =)

Who knew MS could make less than nothing???


Seriously though...great article. My brother is getting his PhD. in high energy physics, so he's always filling my head with this futuristic mumbo jumbo.
Scientists managed to store and retrieve this "perfect dark" quantum zero.

RE: whooooosh
By billybob24 on 3/8/2008 6:45:27 AM , Rating: 2
Kristopher, it's nice to be optimistic but this isn't going to happen.

You know every few weeks, for the last two decades or so I've been an adult, there's an article in the paper that claims researchers have all but cured cancer. Yet Patrick Swayze's still gonna die.

It's kinda the same thing with quantum computing, you can bury me in articles saying it's just around the corner, buit I've been reading those for the last decade. It's kinda put up or shut up time now.

Honestly I dont think quantum computers are possible. And I even have my doubts whether quantum physics is a reality. That's just my opinion. My opinion could be proved wrong (maybe) by a true quantum computer becoming reality. But since that never seems to happen, I kinda suspect I'm right.

RE: whooooosh
By AnnihilatorX on 3/8/2008 8:26:55 AM , Rating: 2
There are working quantum computers already. It's just that they are of only a few qubit stage which doesn't do much useful right now.

It's like the early conventional computers which has only a few transistors.

RE: whooooosh
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 3/8/2008 10:59:13 AM , Rating: 2
As posted by others, we already have quantum computers -- they're just only capable of 16 qubits or less.

Quantum mechanics is not a believe or disbelieve thing, though Einstein himself believed the odd things that occur on the subatomic could be explained away with classical physics. Of course, if those odd things didn't occur, we wouldn't have a lot of neat stuff like the laser.

But whether you want to say that quantum mechanics doesn't make sense, or that it's not possible, the effects are still measurable and exploitable. And this has been demonstrated with people who've designed rudimentary quantum computers -- D-Wave.

RE: whooooosh
By jtemplin on 3/8/2008 3:41:23 PM , Rating: 1
Kris...his name is billy bob...

Don't believe what you can't see or feel eh? Peace out religion!

RE: whooooosh
By dluther on 3/8/2008 11:58:50 AM , Rating: 2
Interestingly, this sort of debunks Rudy Rucker's thoughts on singularity: that we could not simulate "virtual" reality because it takes many atoms to simulate reality as it would to replicate it. Not true when we can store information on the sub atomic scale.

And with quantum compression...

RE: whooooosh
By BruceLeet on 3/8/2008 5:12:17 AM , Rating: 2
I think its...


By Jefuhfuh Dun hammm dot commm

But yes woo lot of fancy words its 5am I just woke up coffee hasn't even kicked in yet, will read the article again at lunch =p.

By General Disturbance on 3/8/2008 2:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I guess I'm at least glad to see Levovsky and his cronies are doing something with the lab space they stole from us...third floor Science B used to be all astrophysics until the dept discovered you could get more gov't grant money, easier, by saying you're working on QUANTUM COMPUTING!! (with a big booming echoing voice...seriously go record your voice on your pc, edit the bass level and add echo to it, get a huge speaker and stick it out your window and blast it full'll have a gov't grant and university office space in no time!)

Now I'm stuck in a windowless office on the 5'th floor, because all I'm doing is helping India with it first space telescope...big deal! :\

RE: jerks
By Davelo on 3/8/2008 7:25:36 PM , Rating: 2
I was kind of thinking the same thing. If what they claim is true and can be empirically verified, then I could imagine many applications that boggle the mind. Quantum computing would only be one of them.

RE: jerks
By geddarkstorm on 3/8/2008 7:42:29 PM , Rating: 2
Zero Point Modules, baby! Oh wait.. too much Stargate for me.

RE: jerks
By Ringold on 3/9/2008 5:19:15 AM , Rating: 2
Speaking of Stargate, and Star Trek, now we know what all those damn crystals do in all their computers.

And here I was thinking that colored glass is just cheap and easy for the props department to make!

That said, I still dont understand how taking Crystal A in Slot B and moving it to Slot C somehow magically repairs all major ship systems.

Some things need to be clarified...
By AggressorPrime on 3/8/2008 4:35:09 PM , Rating: 2
1. They claimed to have reached absolute zero vacuum, nothing less than this.
2. They did not reach absolute zero vacuum as this would, by its nature, also require an absoulte zero movement (thus absolute zero temperature). No instrument can be so detailed as to know if one has reached absolute zero vacuum/movement/temperature because such reading would require unlimited accuracy to detect the smallest possible quantity. And assuming such a state could be reached, it would at the exact same time of its creation immediately pull in the quantity of the energy surrounding it to fill itself in allowing it to never be created. In this act, energy would be teleported to the void (teleported in the sense that it moves at infinite speed, way beyond light) and fill it in so that the void would have never existed, even for an absolute moment.

By 1078feba on 3/10/2008 10:29:48 AM , Rating: 2
Well, since you're an Autobot, I'll take your word for it...

By MrBlastman on 3/10/2008 1:40:32 PM , Rating: 2
I think you are failing to grasp what they are claiming to have done completely.

I do not think they have achieved absolute zero per say in the purest definition.

Per his article here:

It mentions exhibits up to "0.21+-0.04 dB of squeezing"

To me this tells me there is still a MINUTE amount of movement still present, albeit almost imperceptibly small, it still exists. To call it absolutely zero in the purest sense might be incorrect, but I think they were trying to get the point across in an incorrect manner.

Granted, the article I listed above which was mentioned earlier in this thread, might not pertain to exactly the same as the headline, I think it nails down closer as to which they have achieved.

I've read many reports of a laser being used to isolate atomic structure and perhaps slow vibration to a crawl, but he side effect of that itself would be laser radiation which in turn would create heat externally which itself is vibration. So as you see, I think with this technique as with others there must be some form of external response as a result of the stimulus to achieve the near perfect state.

I don't think it was a perfect state though.

By Raidin on 3/10/2008 2:47:31 PM , Rating: 2
infinite speed, way beyond light

Appreciate the clarification.

Cool but...
By Marabyte on 3/8/2008 12:18:23 PM , Rating: 2
Thats all nice and fancy but...

The real question is : "Will it play Crysis at maximum detail?"

RE: Cool but...
By xRyanCat on 3/8/2008 12:35:27 PM , Rating: 3
It won't play Crysis.
It won't play Doom.
Vista crashes every 10 seconds on it.
When running Linux it cures cancer, ends world hunger, and mows your lawn.
And yes. It does blend.

RE: Cool but...
By prenox on 3/8/2008 6:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
Of course it won't run Crysis if its running Linux but it should be able to run Doom.

Typical uses are gravity wave detection
By hellokeith on 3/8/2008 3:48:43 PM , Rating: 2
Gravity waves are theoretical and have never been detected. Your statement is misleading.

By Ringold on 3/9/2008 5:21:42 AM , Rating: 2
Einstein@Home is workin' on it.

By SlyNine on 3/8/2008 12:19:25 AM , Rating: 1
In this house we follow the rules of thermal dynamics!!

By SlyNine on 3/8/2008 12:20:20 AM , Rating: 2
wth, it is also one of the quotes at the bottom apparently. so nm i guess.

By conrad13a on 3/7/2008 11:28:18 PM , Rating: 2
Glad to hear the engineers are ahead of the times.
- M Train!

By SiliconAddict on 3/8/2008 11:54:58 AM , Rating: 2
I know the fundamental principles of all this stuff so while much of the things discussed when dealing with QM is still well above me its at least well within the grasp of comprehension...oh and for those who don't grok some of the concepts and think that DT needs to do a better word....Google.

I know those U of C guys
By quickk on 3/8/2008 12:03:48 PM , Rating: 2
It's really funny seeing their names on Daily Tech as I work right next door to them!

Meh not that impressive....
By SiliconAddict on 3/8/2008 12:04:11 PM , Rating: 2
I did this in Civ IV 2 years ago. *Ducks as someone throws a mouse at his head*

By MrBungle on 3/8/2008 1:53:15 PM , Rating: 2
From the article:
quote: is a common misnomer to state that it could solve the ultra-tricky NP Complete math problems...
"Misnomer" refers to something that is unsuitably or incorrectly named. I think "misconception" would work better here.

Also, I'm a nerd.

Don't get too excited
By Xs1t0ry on 3/8/2008 2:33:51 PM , Rating: 2
I studied at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Institute for Quantum Computing this summer and so I have a solid background in the area. I can tell you guys that these quantum computers will have ridiculous processing power but they will not replace modern computers because there are some things they cannot do (at least capably). Most likely the quantum computers will be used as servers and large data crunchers (like when NASA used 2000 pentium 4's running in parallel to generate a sim of two black holes colliding).

Quantum physics at its best
By Soulchaser on 3/8/2008 11:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
No fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it!

And now...
By Raidin on 3/10/2008 3:00:26 PM , Rating: 2
And now, for the interesting version!

Scientists store Sub Zero in a light vacuum!

...physical phenomena -- including everything from perpetual motion to teleportation...ultimate computing machine...which would put even Intel or IBM's mightiest system to by NASA..."spooky"...atomic noise..."squeezed vacuum"...less than nothing..."perfect dark" quantum zero...special vacuum is created by a laser beam directed through special crystals...gravity wave detection...Tokyo Institute of Technology...rubidium atoms...Alexander Lvovsky...Canada...Quantum Information Technology...unbreakable...slowed light to a stop...Alexander Kuzmich...Georgia Institute of Technology...photon...squeeze space...entangled light.

...for those interested in only the good parts.

DailyTech: Get Your Geek On™

This post has no affiliation with DailyTech. Get Your Geek On™ is not really trademarked, and is not a property of DailyTech, though it could be for the right price. The right price is property of the poster.

By Ammohunt on 3/10/2008 3:21:28 PM , Rating: 2
I can't wait to get my less than Zero thermos.

By logaldinho on 3/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: hey
By rodrigu3 on 3/8/2008 10:57:39 PM , Rating: 1
just stick one of these zero vaccuums on there...

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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