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Inca Knots Inspire Quantum Computer


We think of data storage as a modern problem, but even ancient civilizations kept records. While most of the world used stone tablets or other media that didn’t survive the centuries, the Incas used something called a quipu that encoded numeric data on strings using knots. Now the ancient system of recording numbers inspires a new way to encode qubits in a quantum computer.

With the quipu, the knots on a string represent a number. By analogy, a conventional qubit is just like you use a string to form a 0 or 1 shape on a tabletop. Wind or other “noise” can easily disturb your equation. But the knots will stay tied even if you take the threads and move them. The new qubits are similar, encoding the topology data of the material.

In practice, Quantinuum’s H1 processor uses 10 ytterbium ions trapped in lasers that pulse the Fibonacci sequence. If you consider a conventional qubit as a one-dimensional activity – the state of the qubit – this new system behaves like a two-dimensional system, where the second dimension is time. It is easier to build than conventional 2D quantum structures but offers at least some of the same inherent error resistance.

The actual paper is paywalled by Nature. While the technique is exotic, it makes you realize that there is more to shake up quantum computers and like today’s conventional computers that do not use tubes, cores, and mercury delay lines, the Tomorrow’s quantum computers are likely to look very different. than what we have now.

This is not the first time that people have tried to create topological qubits, but the last time we noticed that the effort had some experimental problems. Want time on a quantum computer? You can access virtual ones. Or you can use some real network.



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