Weekly Takeaways-January 11, 2022
Updated: Mar 11, 2022
The Train Station Analogy Imagine you are taking the train across town. You get to the train on time (at least according to your watch), but the clock at the train station is running five minutes late. So, the train leaves five minutes late. You get to your connecting station, but that clock is running five minutes fast. Your connecting train has already left. So, you have to wait for the next train. Such is the importance of synchronized clocks. Moving people is analogous to moving data across a network; better synchronization increases throughput, improves efficiency, and reduces latency. And while networks get more complicated (see below), the accuracy hasn't improved in decades.
China reportedly has ground-based lasers that can shoot down satellites, and now they have developed a 1 Megawatt laser that can fit on a small satellite.
A major solar event like the Carrington Event of 1859 "can cause big problems for GPS satellites". Fortunately, there is only a 2% chance of that happening in the next decade.
2021 was a record year for investment in startups, nearly doubling 2020. By the end of the year three SPACs a day were created and dry powder for new investment hit $750B, with the biggest increase in funds for early stage startups led by giant funds. In return, startups returned a record $774.1 billion in exit value.
The Quantum Insider (TQI) released their Annual Report summarizing a big year in quantum, including $3.2 Billion of investment in the quantum sector as well as major technology developments.
Looking forward, TQI also released their Top Ten Quantum Technology Predictions for 2022. Their list includes obvious predictions like #5: China’s Year to Shine, or #1. Go Public, Or Go Home. But we like prediction #8: Philosophers Join The Conversation "beyond how does quantum computing work to what does quantum computing mean."
Is the brain a quantum processor?
Entangled photons can be used for quantum computers, distributing encryption keys, and very accurate time transfer. They can also be used for quantum imaging. Researchers are using entangled photons to make "the invisible visible", where "one photon has a wavelength that can be captured on camera, the other is designed to interact with the object under examination in the invisible range."
IEEE has published their list of 12 Exciting Engineering Milestones to Look for in 2022, including the launch of space-based optical systems that will enable deep space communications.
The Train Station Analogy, Part II In the old days of analog broadcasts, synchronization was not necessary. This was analogous to all trains departing from one station: you arrive when you arrive. Accurate synchronization is critical as more stations are added and distances between stations decrease. And this is the trend within data and telecommunication networks.The one-way broadcast tower has been replaced by cell towers, which are splitting even further into microcells, picocells, and femtocells (think your wi-fi router). This trend is likely to continue, according to a recent report on 6G. Projected to be 100 times faster than 5G, 6G requires a new network topology that "will be more layered and more meshed, encompassing not only ground-based radio units but also unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), low earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites, and high-altitude platform stations (HAPS)." All of which will need better timing accuracy.