Weekly Takeaways-October 19, 2022

Updated: 5 days ago

Theme of the Week

Time as National Infrastructure Nobody in the early days of GPS understood how important it would be. The expectation was that it would provide position and timing for the US military. Now, nearly every person and country in the world rely on it. This reliance has alarmed government and industry officials and inspired other countries to build their own global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). What is less well-known is that many countries are building their own resilient timing networks. For example, the UK created the National Timing Centre two years ago after a review estimated that the loss of timing from a GPS outage could “impact the UK economy by over £1 billion per day.”

Other countries are following suit, including China, Korea, Norway, and India. Meanwhile, in the US the telecommunication industry continues to push for a National Timing Architecture. Not only is it necessary to protect critical infrastructure, it also improves network performance: “The more precise, resilient, and stable a timing source, the more information can be moved through a given piece of spectrum. According to network engineers, “better timing equals found money.” Last Week's Theme: Scrubbed

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The More You Know...

The 2022 Nobel prize in physics has been jointly awarded to three titans of quantum physics, Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger. These scientists “performed experiments utilizing entangled photons to resolve a long-standing debate in the early history of quantum mechanics." Entanglement as a consequence of quantum mechanics was pointed out and elaborated on by Albert Einstein and colleagues in the famous 1935 EPR paper. But Einstein found the idea of nonlocal entanglement, the so-called “spooky action at a distance”, deeply problematic since, while it doesn't directly violate relativity, it certainly violates the spirit of local influences and causes at the conceptual heart of relativity. Because of this Einstein favored the idea that a local hidden variable was at work such that quantum mechanics was an incomplete description of reality resulting from an averaging over these local hidden variables. Nearly 30 years later, the physicist John Stewart Bell derived a mathematical relation, known as the Bell inequality, that demonstrated that any such local hidden variable theory could not reproduce all of the predictions of quantum mechanics. Thus, Bell's theorem said it was possible in principle to experimentally test if the actual world corresponds to the predictions of quantum mechanics or of some deeper theory that uses local, hidden variables. What seemed to be a philosophical question was now potentially an experimental one. However, "Bell’s inequality, while massively significant as a theoretical construct, was not at first of much use experimentally; the result itself of a thought experiment, it couldn’t be squared with practical detector technology. The three 2022 physics laureates found ways to circumvent those difficulties, and to advance studies of entanglement firmly into the realm of experimental science." It is important to note that all of the progress that has been made in quantum information science and quantum technologies owes a huge debt to all of these pioneers that dared to seriously ask such a fundamental question about reality, and who were not dissuaded by accusations of the worthlessness of their research by many of their influential contemporaries. To learn more, please email us.