back to article To build a better quantum computer, look into a black hole, says professor Brian Cox

It's hard for professor Brian Cox to hide his enthusiasm for black holes, and he didn't really try as he explained to The Register how progress in understanding the celestial phenomena contributes to the development of quantum computing. "The study of black holes in the last few years has really transformed our view of what …

  1. Andy 73 Silver badge

    "Whereas there might be microbes all over the place."

    Yup. Some of them are in government.

    1. Julian 8

      Re: "Whereas there might be microbes all over the place."

      Bit harsh on Microbes

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: "Whereas there might be microbes all over the place."

        And Wombles, and Muppets. We need a 'A Microbe, a Womble and a Muppet walked into a bar,...' joke.

        1. theOtherJT Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: "Whereas there might be microbes all over the place."

          ... Barman says "party conference is the other side of the road lads."

    2. Juha Meriluoto

      Re: "Whereas there might be microbes all over the place."

      Ours, too...

  2. dlc.usa
    IT Angle

    Nerdy Musicians

    I'd love to listen in on any discussions between him and Dr. May. I wonder what they think of C.S. Lewis' idea that the Narian 'verse was sung into existence by Aslan?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nerdy Musicians

      As listeners of The Infinite Monkey Cage will know, the response from Brian would probably be a pithy "That's bollocks..."

  3. dlc.usa

    s/Narian/Narnian/ -- I was a far better proof-reader in my youth.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More answers than questions?

    It's remarkable that ... the black hole information paradox, and ... quantum error correction codes ... – that the crossover is intimate. It's almost a complete crossover,"

    I remember that from last week - the claim that a black hole loses no information, which sounds satisfying - but is it proven experimentally or by observation?

    The problem of quantum error correction is isolating the computation from spurious noise - in other words losing the information about the spurious noise but keeping the remaining unique solution - it doesn't seem like the same problem.

    But then, I'm as thick as a brick, so ...

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: More answers than questions?

      There is no black hole paradox. The same reason light can escape means info cant get in to create a paradox.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: More answers than questions?

        The shift in theory from "paradox" to "no paradox" - is that purely a theoretical shift or is there evidence that there is a 1-1 relationship between what goes "on to" a black back and what comes "off of" a black hole.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: More answers than questions?

          Cox was on the telly saying the date is spread on the edge of the event horizon the other day, to us it never crosses the event horizon. Unless you have a whole new theory where gravity at any point is different depending on the direction.

          1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

            When you eliminated the impossible what remains...

            The trouble with that argument is that it's possible to construct blacks holes (non-rotating, uncharged, no accretion disk) where you can pass "through" the event horizon and never know - even the tidal forces are too weak for you to realise you've crossed the point of no return.

            So they have to postulate other, empirically-unfounded reasons why this couldn't happen. We've no clue whether he's right. I wouldn't say it was a bad bet. But then I wouldn't have said Johnson getting elected as PM for a second time, weeks after he left, was a bad bet either. Maybe we don't live in that universe. We need a working theory of quantum gravity to know.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: More answers than questions?

      My brick understands that everything we know about black holes themselves is mathematical theories. That said, of the Conservation 'laws' the Conservation of Information (which is what creates the blackhole information paradox) is the one I have the hardest time with. I have erased too many things in my life.

      1. Bitsminer Silver badge

        Re: More answers than questions?

        I understood the lifetime of Conservative Information was 45 days.

        Or am I confusing black holes with a head of lettuce?

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "a black hole does it"

    A black hole does one thing : it swallows everything that passes by.

    This idiot apparently thinks that black holes share things. They don't. They swallow.

    Hawking radiation is not sharing information.

    1. Loyal Commenter

      Re: "a black hole does it"

      Yes, yes, of course, you are the expert here, and Professor Brian Cox is an idiot. For saying something I'm pretty sure he didn't say anyway. Show me on the naked singularity where the bad man touched you.

      Let's not even start with the contradiction in terms you have in your first sentence, eh? I'm not sure how something can pass by if it has been swallowed...

      1. Jaybus

        Re: "a black hole does it"

        "I'm not sure how something can pass by if it has been swallowed"

        Hey! No need to get pornographic.

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: "a black hole does it"

      Er, no, Black Holes don't swallow everything. There's one at the centre of our galaxy, and no doubt, many others, and the galaxies survive just fine, orbiting them. We see binary systems with matter slowly accreting into black holes, the companion star doesn't just get swallowed.

  6. adam 40 Silver badge
    Gimp

    What goes on in black holes....

    ... stays in black holes!

    Fnarr fnarr!

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: What goes on in black holes....

      You know, it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped at work, reading The Register and about to die of boredom, that I really wish we still had the Paris icon.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: What goes on in black holes....

        Wait when did that disappear?!

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: What goes on in black holes....

          Shortly after it got too close to the black hole.

    2. Ken Shabby
      Alien

      Re: What goes on in black holes....

      First rule of black holes: we don’t communicate with black holes.

  7. Loyal Commenter

    I came here for the comments and I wasn't disappointed

    Articles about black holes, or indeed anything quantum (at the other end of the physics scale) always attract the armchair theoretical physicists who somehow think that they are experts because they once saw a copy of A Brief History of Time in a charity shop, and of course they must know more about the subject than someone who has spent a career studying it properly.

    Amanfrommars will be along shortly to talk more sense than all of them put together.

    1. logicalextreme Silver badge

      Re: I came here for the comments and I wasn't disappointed

      I don't think he turns up until you've said his name three times into a mirror.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Boffin

      A brief history of A Brief History of Time

      First you stare at A Brief History of Time.

      and A Brief History of Time stares into you.

      Then you start to read A Brief History of Time

      and you begin to understand A Brief History of Time

      Then you fail to understanding A Brief History of Time

      but you continue reading A Brief History of Time

      Then you stop reading A Brief History of Time

      and A Brief History of Time reads you.

      1. logicalextreme Silver badge

        Re: A brief history of A Brief History of Time

        How does Soviet Russia factor into all this?

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Angel

    Brian Cox is smart

    I don't 100% agree with everything that anyone says about this but I like the way his comments and thoughts make me think about things ... virtually everything he's documented is smart and very educational, but of course we're finding new facts all the time so everyone's "statements" need to get updated as our theories change. If you want to evaluate the current quantum theory world then remember the classic (the icon defines Einstein, but I'm confident that they could be friends):

    "I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious" - Albert Einstein

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Brian Cox is smart

      Some criticise "pop science" but that seems asinine. He has managed to bring hard physics to sell-out shows for the general public. Who knows how many kids might be inspired by that, kind of a modern equivalent of the Christmas Lectures before they were ruined.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Brian Cox is smart

        Indeed. The point of the Scientific Literacy movement isn't to turn everyone into scientists; it's to spread some knowledge of basic scientific ideas, and spur interest in the sciences. It's not perfect, but it's better than not making science popular and accessible to casual audiences.

        The same can be said for any field, really. Give people a taste. Those with the inclination and aptitude may pursue it further; others will at least get a bit of mental exercise.

  10. mevets

    Where did my investment go?

    Look into the black hole.

    I like that these folks have a sense of humour about it.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Where did my investment go?

      I didn't know that Liz Truss read El Reg.

  11. FrogsAndChips

    on average, there's kind of like one civilization per galaxy

    And we still haven't found one in the Milky Way!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why fund this stuff

    Is the question that I'm constantly asked by people I know who work in banking, or worse....with economics degrees.

    Just proves that economists have zero imagination & don't realise that this kind of work will be affecting humanity in 100s of years time with their technology and discoveries.

    I mean, can you imagine Newton going for funding asking for money based on the idea that his work would get lumps of metal that think for themselves onto mars and out of the Solar System

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Why fund this stuff

      Just proves that economists have zero imagination

      You know all of them, eh?

  13. JohnMurray

    Netflix

    Black holes, the edge of all we know.

    Documentary, the Event Horizon Telescope

  14. Wilco

    Fermi Paradox and Drake Equation

    One civilisation per galaxy is pretty pessimistic. The Drake equation is a somewhat reasonable method for estimating the number of civilisations in the galaxy right now. You can certainly get the Drake equation to produce N=1, but the easiest way to do that is to assume that the average lifetime of a communicating civilisation is only a few centuries.

    Two very depressing reasons for this spring to mind - either mostly civilisations destroy themselves pretty quickly, or the galaxy is very dangerous place, and everyone is hiding.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Mushroom

      Re: Fermi Paradox and Drake Equation

      The only way the Earth of the 21st century makes any sense at all is to assume that someone, somewhere, has decided to do a live-action role-playing enactment of one possible explanation for the Fermi Paradox.

      GJC

    2. Andy Non

      Re: Fermi Paradox and Drake Equation

      That nails it in my opinion. As mankind has developed ever more powerful technologies, the damage that one person can do either deliberately or accidentally is increasing exponentially over time. An unstable person in control of the nuclear launch buttons, Putin, Kim Jong-Un or a lowly laboratory worker working on viruses or other pathogens having a mishap (Wuhan maybe?) or other technology getting out of control, self replicating nano-tech.

  15. ap011013

    Input Input Input!

    What If the logical conclusion of a quantum computer is a black hole as it endeavours to consume data…

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Input Input Input!

      My quantum computer keeps saying

      +++OUT OF CHEESE ERROR+++

      +++REDO FROM START+++

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