By now, LSS regulars can cite our Three Big Things For The Future by heart. They are Artificial Intelligence (AI) Quantum Computing (QC) and CRISPR (no, we’re not going there). As every schoolchild will know, AI and CRISPR are swimming along nicely. And last year (LSS 24 June 2020) we enthused about the latest achievements of the QC crowd. It seemed only a matter of months before there would be a Quantum Computer in every home, running the washing machine, cutting the lawn and solving all those irritating mathematical paradoxes you had never quite got round to.
As anyone who has tried to build a quantum computer in their garage will tell you, one of the best things you can have is a Majorana particle. Or even two, if you can get hold of them. And that’s where the rot has started. Controversy over their detection, production, measurement, recording and writing up for journals is now ruffling feathers across the whole field. What such a particle is, and what is going on is well explained in the link to the Nature Briefings article Quantum Computing’s reproducibility crisis below:
A shadow has fallen over the race to detect a new type of quantum particle, the Majorana fermion, that could power quantum computers. Controversy over experiments that initially claimed to have detected Majorana particles — but remain unconfirmed — is eroding confidence in the field, says physicist Sergey Frolov, who calls for more accountability and openness from researchers and journal editors.Nature | 9 min read
It’s the sort of crisis that has beset every new field of applied science since the Industrial Revolution, and will be loved by economic historians and Hegelians alike, for obvious reasons. Our advice has always been the same too: don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.
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