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The Law of Large Numbers guarantees that one-in-a-million miracles happen 295 times a day in America

 

Researchers now able to stop, restart light

Less than five years ago, the speed of light was considered one of the universe's great constants. Albert Einstein theorized that light cannot travel faster than 186,282 miles per second. No one has proved him wrong, but he never said that it couldn't go slower.  Watch their video report only

HARVARD UNIVERSITY GAZETTE

 

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Being illiterate and innumerate shouldn't shame anyone
Nick Green

Article from SMH (Heckler)
March 26, 2007

Language is evolving and our words and the rules for their use differ from those of the past. It may be a bit sad that lazy or uninformed usage creates the way of the future, but it does.

I wonder, though, why only with language? What makes words so special? Maths and numbers get enough incorrect interpretations, so why can't the innumerate, as well as the illiterate, have control of the future?

Maths textbooks will take a while to catch up; the same is true of dictionaries. Editorial teams have to argue at length to decide that a definition or sum has really changed. In common usage, though, we can do as we please. So it would seem, anyway.

When teams play now they "verse" each other. "Who did you verse?" (Forget "whom". It's long dead.) "We're versing you next." Pity the Latin scholar who might feel the loss of "versus" more keenly than many. "Verse" in this context is close, but not quite right. So why not try 2+2=5? It's close, and for many applications might suffice.

"The tanks waded in," was heard in a recent news report. The battle might have been in a pond, but I doubt it. Presumably, the tanks weighed in, but "waded" sounds OK, so maybe it will do.

In the same way 4x4=44 might work. Say it like this: "Four fours are forty-four." Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Try it and work on variations.

Another way to transform maths could be to use the right rule at the wrong time. Apostrophes suffer from this with appalling frequency. I will almost tolerate DVDs and the 1960s these days. However, a sign the other day declared "Cleanskin's wines". There's nothing wrong with apostrophes in general; that was just not a good place to use one.

In maths we could try that with cancelling in fractions. Simplify 18/85? Easy, cancel the 8s to get 1/5. This extended and improved use of cancelling is already gaining acceptance.

Email your old maths teacher and he or she will simplify 16/64 to equal 1/4. Just cancel the 6s and your answer cannot be faulted.

I hope everyone will give this some thought and at least experiment a little. Go easy if you work in a bank or if you are a maths teacher. Remember that language changes are evolutionary and maths should follow the same pattern.

Don't go for too much too soon, and take care. Perhaps it might be better to ignore the tricky ones, such as "nonplussed" or d/dx (log x) = 1/x, until things get well under way. In fact, who really knows what they mean anyway?

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Sydney Morning Herald

Queensland brains crack the code of 3x5

Nick Miller
September 18, 2007
 

Any high-school student can tell you the prime factors of 15 are 3 and 5.

But if that student could tell you the prime factors of a number hundreds of digits long, they could crack the "RSA" encryption that underpins privacy and security on the internet, from online banking to confidential government emails.

A team of researchers at Queensland University has recently set a world-first benchmark using a quantum computer to find the prime factors of 15. It is a "baby step" on a path to smashing the science of cryptography.

"There's a hell of a long way to go - we have created the world's most boring, simplest quantum computer," says Professor Andrew White of the university's physics department. "But if I was encrypting things I still wanted to be secret in 20 years' time - now I would worry.

"We don't think we will threaten cryptography any time soon. But we are very excited about this demonstration: there is a path to scalability, to developing a computer that can solve problems impossible on a classical computer."

Their experiment, now being peer-reviewed for publication, uses the mysterious physical state known as "quantum entanglement" to run a mathematical function known as Shor's algorithm, a short cut to find prime factors that classical machines would take centuries to compute.

But there are theoretical and practical problems along the way to a full RSA-cracking machine, says PhD student Ben Lanyon who also worked on the experiment.

"(We) only factored 15 and found the answer was 3 and 5 - and it was incredibly hard to do," he says. "But we have shown we can do it on an optics-based system, in Australia. For the first time, we've demonstrated all the processes required for a more useful demonstration. However, such a demonstration is a long way off yet."

The technology could also be used to analyse the structure of complex molecules, helping design future drugs.

Coincidentally, RSA Security's global president, Art Coviello, was in Australia when the research was revealed.

"In my business, everything is a concern," he says. "(Our) pure research organisation focuses on these very issues. All of these things have to be dealt with not with conjecture but with mathematics and I'm sure we will respond to it."

Burt Kaliski, the founding scientist at RSA Laboratories, says the latest breakthroughs are "one more step on the long road to practicality" for quantum computing. "We're continuing to track the progress and keep an appropriate edge for our customers, just as we do for any other potential (and in this case long-term and theoretical) avenue of attack."

RSA Laboratories is working to develop new encryption algorithms considered impervious to quantum computation.

There are many more immediate threats to security on the internet, Mr Coviello says.

"I continue to worry about the sheer number of access points," he says. "I worry about the connectivity between the ever-increasing number of web applications and the connections to legacy systems that weren't built for this level of openness. I continue to worry about the exposure of personally identifiable information, which has to be used to access commercial or government services, and how that information can be protected from attack."

:: Read the full interview with Art Coviello online at www.theage.com.au/businessday.

Developing Quantum Computers

 

OTHER LINKS

:: www.quantum.info

:: www.rsa.com/rsalabs/node.asp?id=2003

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 From The Canberra Times

Explores the relationship between health and wealth with some very interesting conclusions..... not what you would expect

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