David Wineland runs a world class lab at NIST Boulder which has been at the forefront of ion trap quantum computing. William Phillips is a Nobel prizing winning physicist who also does quantum computing at NIST, this time at NIST Gaithersburg. To say that these are two top researchers in quantum computing, is a massive understatement. Both of the groups have produced their ground breaking work with the support of numerous alphabet soup government agencies throughout the years. Now comes word, via a Nature news article that IARPA, the intelligence community’s version of DARPA, has decided to stop funding these group’s research in quantum computing. Ostensibly the reason for this is that IARPA does not want to fund other agencies work. As a bureaucratic bullet point that sounds fine, but as a practical matter, it is, I must say, stark raving crazy. Or, as Ivan Deutsch put it in the Nature news article:
“Anyone who hears about this is shocked beyond belief,” says Ivan Deutsch of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. “The world leader in quantum computing having funding being terminated based on a technicality seems incredibly shortsighted.”
A letter has been sent to John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, protesting this move.
research pseudo professor I depend on research funding to keep me afloat (ah, the luxury of those professor’s who actually know they will get paid in a year’s time.) Things like this scare me, not because I think I’ll run across this particular variation on crazy funding decisions, but because it reminds me that directions for researching funding come down from way up in the great clogs of the government. And if David Wineland and Bill Phillips are subject to these whims, well, then, I fear that I, a minor theorist, am completely totally doomed. In the mean time, I guess all I can do is put my two cents in that this funding move is a really really bad idea.