In today's remainders, the big and the little. A big quantum computer simulates a little molecule. A big series of tubes make a big difference at Stanford hospital. And a Big Brother ad makes me a little worried.
Quantum computing, like Pilates, is one of those things that sometimes seems to offer more in theory than in meaningful results. In the case of the former, the tide may be turning. Chemists at Harvard University have used a quantum computer to calculate the exact energy of a hydrogen molecule, a finding that could only be approximated by conventional supercomputers. These traditional computers, working in binary bits of zeroes and ones, falter as molecular simulations become increasingly complex. Instead, the quantum computer works in qubits which can test configurations with both ones and zeroes, allowing for more precise models. Still, some might say that "meaningful results" have yet to be achieved. [Eureka Alert]
Half Past Cloudy
One of the makers over at Make has made this handsome clock which instead of telling time tells the weather. The weatherpiece checks for updates on the Environment Canada website every quarter of the hour via an Arduino micro-controller, its lower hand adjusting to the correct temperature and its upper hand swinging to show the day's forecast. Though the clock's case gives it a decidedly old-school feel, it hosts a web server so it can be tweaked from any browser. It may not dispense the most robust meteorological data but what it does display it does with style. [Make]
A Dose of Tubes
Your local bank isn't the only place that's zipping your information around using pneumatic tubes. This report on the Stanford Hospital's pneumatic tube system reminds us that the very old technology is still very much alive today. Stanford's system, which includes over four miles of pipes, is one of the largest in the nation. The containers navigate the complex system with computer guidance and reach speeds of up to 18 miles per hour as they send important patient data to and fro distant areas of the hospital. Dating back to the 19th century, pneumatic tubes are not a new technology, to be sure, but they are an important one. As Leander Robinson, chief engineer of Stanford's system, puts it: "The tube is everywhere." [Stanford School of Medicine]
At seven and a half feet tall and packed with super-smart tech, not only do you read Intel's Intelligent Digital Signage Concept, it reads you, too. Conceived by Frog Design, the multi touch-enabled, data-collecting, life-size advertisement (which we mentioned and showed briefly when covering Intel CEO Paul Otellini's keynote at CES 2010) looks to make signage an interactive affair.
Intel's concept engages shoppers with captivating graphics and a touchable screen and then uses a built-in camera to register their demographic data. Fast Company has a video of the gigantic advertisement, but thankfully it's just a prototype and there are currently no plans for it to invade malls or your privacy anytime soon. [Fast Company]