A collection of things I find interesting:
1. Nearly a year ago, I talked about some progress on the Twin Primes conjecture through a collaborative effort spearheaded by Terry Tao and Michael Nielsen. When I wrote the last post, the record gap was at 258,728. It has since shrunk to 246 (unconditionally), or, depending on the use of some other unproved conjectures, 6. This has been an exciting story to follow due to how rapidly it has moved forward, and how seamlessly mathematicians around the world have been able to coordinate on the problem. For more technical details, see here.
2. Scott Aaronson recently posted a collection of ten new open (interesting) problems in the field of quantum information. This list (and this post) is great because Scott posted a similar list about eight years ago, and there’s been fairly significant progress on his old open questions. Many of them are fairly technical, but it’s inspiring to have so many interesting research questions all bundled together in one place.
3. About ten months ago, I discussed some drama surrounding the company D-Wave. Since then, a couple of interesting things have happened: A handful of publications have come out benchmarking various aspects of the D-Wave machine. Secondly, a classical model of the D-Wave machine was proposed by Berkeley’s own Seung Woo Shin and friends. For those keeping track at home, a truly correct classical model of the D-Wave would fairly convincingly slam the door on any interesting quantum capabilities of such a device. But, alas, the D-Wave is a slippery beast, and Daniel Lidar’s group has evidence to suggest that Shin’s model isn’t perfect.
4. In terms of things that just make me ridiculously excited, Google released a program for simulating a quantum computer on your desktop. I haven’t had the chance to play around with this too much, but I may write a longer review of the software in the future. It’s limited to simulating 22 qubits, but that should be enough to demonstrate some simple algorithms.
5. On a completely different note, Pike and friends from Imperial College London and the Max Planck Institute have come up with a way to convert light into matter. That’s the sensationalized headline, anyway. Really, they’re thinking about slamming together photons to produce electron-positron pairs (on the order of 100,000 pairs, possibly). This is a fair ways from conjuring up a cup of Earl Grey, but it’s exciting and almost too hilariously Sci-Fi sounding to be real (except it is).