The massive amount of processing power generated by computer manufacturers has not yet been able to quench our thirst for speed and computing capacity. In 1947, American computer engineer Howard Aikensaid that just six electronic digital computers would satisfy the computing needs of the United States. Others have made similar errant predictions about the amount of computing power that would support our growing technological needs. Of course, Aiken didn't count on the large amounts of data generated by scientific research, the proliferation of personal computers or the emergence of the Internet, which have only fueled our need for more, more and more computing power.
Will we ever have the amount of computing power we need or want? If, asMoore's Law states, the number of transistors on a microprocessor continues to double every 18 months, the year 2020 or 2030 will find the circuits on a microprocessor measured on an atomic scale. And the logical next step will be to create quantum computers, which will harness the power of atoms and molecules to perform memory and processing tasks. Quantum computers have the potential to perform certain calculations significantly faster than any silicon-based computer.
China lands on moon, kicks off next lunar space race
Let the modern moon rush begin. China has successfully placed a lander and rover on the lunar surface, the first time any nation has touched down there in almost four decades.
China's first moon landing, which took place on Saturday afternoon (GMT) marks the rekindling of humanity's love affair with our only natural satellite. About a dozen robotic landers and rovers are on the drawing board for launch between now and 2020, many from burgeoning space powers or private ventures that would also be making their first attempts.
This flotilla of 21st-century moon explorers should arrive bristling with technologies that will help them map the moon's uncharted regions and prospect for resources that could one day sustain lunar outposts and missions further afield.
The crew of the final Apollo mission lifted off from the moon's Sea of Serenity on 14 December 1972. After that, three robotic Soviet spacecraft made it to the surface, the final one in 1976. For the next few decades, the moon's only visitors were a dozen or so orbiters and deliberate crashes, such as NASA's LCROSS mission in 2009, which created plumes of dust for analysis by orbiters.
Ricardo Heras has a well-written and thought provoking essay in Physics Today in which he asks whether physicists should be individualists or collectivists. He draws from the history of science and largely concludes that individualism is necessary for bold, creative ideas. In response Chad Orzel points out that many of the individualistic physicists that Ricardo noted were actually collectivists to some degree, even though the nature of their collaborations has not been well acknowledged.
Ricardo Heras 在今日物理杂志发表了一篇很出色并引起了激烈讨论的文章。在文章中他问道物理学家应该是个人主义者还是集体主义者。他从科学史中大致得出了个人主义是产生伟大的有创意的思想的必要条件的结论。做为回应，Chad Orzel指出Ricardo所说的个人主义物理学家事实上某种程度上是集体主义者，即使他们合作的方法并不广为人知。
I prefer to tread a middle path in looking at these possibilities. There is no doubt that individualism – best exemplified by Feynman and Dirac in physics – can lead one to novel insights. But there’s no dearth of cases where it has also led to misleading ideas, even ones which are regarded as downright loopy. A good example is that of amateur physicist Jim Carter whose quest for an alternative fundamental theory of physics has been documented by Margaret Wertheim in her book “Physics on the Fringe“. Another individualist was Ernst Mach who refused to believe in the reality of atoms until his death. There is no doubt that many great physicists succeeded from their individualistic and independent attitude in physics, but it’s also true that we tend to register hits much more than misses when it comes to attributing success in science to specific traits.