The Quantum Pontiff

Mortgage Backed Quantum Computers

From the annals of strangely mixed news stories. Canada: $25 billion government bailout and….$50 million for the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing:

BRANTFORD, Ont. — The $25-billion government deal to buy mortgages from Canada’s banks isn’t a lifeline for lenders stuck with bum loans, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday…

He said the government will likely make money on the deal, because its borrowing costs are lower than those available to banks.

Harper also produced an election goodie, promising a $50-million grant to a high-tech research lab at the University of Waterloo.

The money goes to the university’s Institute of [sic] Quantum Computing.

The prime minister says it’s in line with the government’s efforts to spur research and development.

A new way to get out of the financial crisis: invest in the quantum computing! (joke about a superposition of rich and poor deleted for sanity’s sake.)


  1. #1 John Sidles
    October 10, 2008

    Hmmm … $50M for quantum information science … seems like a lot … so let’s do a Fermi calculation … let’s see … the markets have dropped about $10^13 dollars this week … so that $50M represents …

    Just three seconds of this week’s financial free-fall.

    So, how important is quantum information science to the global economy? If it could slow the world’s economic free-fall by even three seconds, it would pay for itself.

  2. #2 Jonathan Vos Post
    October 11, 2008

    I remember a cartoon in the New Yorker (back when I myself was a New Yorker, prior to coming to Caltech in 1968) where a talking head on TV was saying: “The Dow Jones briefly reached infinity today, before profit-takers moved in.”

    QC on Wall Street may indeed grapple with infinite temperature systems (i.e. coherent, when looked at as thermal exponential distributions).

    I’m in a mixed state, myself. My retirement portfolio was 96% wiped out in the dotcom bust. What was left has, in past month, been cut by 2/3. My euros in the Bank of Iceland are in limbo (3/4 to be covered by the IMF?). My Altadena home, a few blocks from where Feynman lived, and a few blocks in another diredction from where he’s buried, has been dropping in value by roughly 1 kilobuck per day for the past year and a half.

    And yet I still have a (low-paying) job, live in that house, have a loving wife and son and dog. So the sky is in a mixed state of having fallen and not fallen and being a lovely “sky-blue pink.”

  3. #3 David McMahon
    October 11, 2008

    Seems to me $50 million is a huge investment for something like quantum computing, especially since the field is still somewhat speculative and its claims probably exaggerated. I bet lots of people down here in the States working on QC would like a grant like that. If they put that much money into the national labs ($50 million is far more than they are investing at Sandia by a HUGE margin) that would be amazing. I say kudos to the Canadian government for putting such a large investment in what many would view as esoteric science. Of course years down the road if quantum computers actually live up to their promise then this will look like a really forward looking investment.

  4. #4 Markk
    October 16, 2008

    “$50 million is far more than they are investing at Sandia by a HUGE margin”

    What? Sandia’s budget is way over a billion $ … or do you mean just on Quantum Computing?