The top three news stories of the week, as chosen by our resident students. This week’s top three news stories are quantum computers, immigration ban, and alternative facts

Article written by Justin Aluko.

 

Computers of the future are the size of…football pitches?

Physicists have theorised a quantum computer larger than a football pitch! While this turns its back on the miniaturisation trend that has dominated technology for the past several years, it is believed to be able to solve many computational problems that have so far proven to be impossible for current computers to handle. One example being factorisation of very (incredibly) large numbers, before the person who originally executed the calculation…well…dies of old age. Of course, sacrificing your life for factorising a several hundred digit number may be considered a particularly useless task by most people. However, being able to break today’s most sophisticated encryption systems by simply brute-forcing every combination of letters, numbers, characters, and symbols, in no time at all, would be a very useful ability. It would make current computational systems seem like painting by numbers!

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Image Credit:  Erick Lucero

Immigration ban and science

We almost got through this post without a mention of the “Donald Trump effect”, but since this week has been dominated by the fallout of the so-called “immigration ban” it couldn’t go unmentioned here either. While its effects on some people are immediately obvious, the effect it could have on science may be a little more subtle, but worrying nonetheless. Experts have expressed concerns that the ban would both hamper their capacity to learn about the characteristics of neglected diseases emerging out of conflict zones and also their ability to develop ways to combat them. This therefore would require strong links with scientific collaborators from such regions to make this effort productive and efficient. In an act of solidarity, scientists have also opened up their labs and offices for stranded peers across Europe and Canada until they could return. Now that the ban has been temporarily blocked by a US federal judge, however, I’m sure it’s safe to say that this story is still very far from over.

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Image:  President Donald Trump

Alternative Fact of the Week!

picture3Finally, continuing the theme of Trumpisms is an insightful article in Science that critiques the ‘alternative facts’ put forward by Katy French Talento, Donald Trumps health care expert, who was recently appointed to his Domestic Policy Council: Long-term use of birth control pills can ruin your uterus for baby-hosting altogether.

Article written by Justin Aluko.