The Google Wants to Be Sciencey

August 19, 2021

This write up is not about time crystals. This write up is about being sciencey or more sciencey than any other online advertising company is at this time. Freeze that thought, please.

The Next Web exclaims, “Google’s ‘Time Crystals’ Could Be the Greatest Scientific Achievement of our Lifetimes: EurekaEurekaEurekaEureka!” We are told Google researchers and their partners “may” have created time crystals, which were hypothesized nine years ago. We also learn the research has yet to survive a full peer-review process. At the very least, this represents quite a leap for the company’s marketing department, which has been trying to position the company as the quantum leader for years. To say writer Tristan Greene is excited about the (potential) triumph is an understatement. He declares:

“Eureka! A research team featuring dozens of scientists working in partnership with Google‘s quantum computing labs may have created the world’s first time crystal inside a quantum computer. … These scientists may have produced an entirely new phase of matter.”

Greene notes that it is difficult to understand exactly what time crystals are, but he tries his best to explain it to us. See the write-up for his attempt, and/or turn to one of these alternate explanations for more details. The quantum-computing enthusiast goes on to explain why he is so excited:

“Literally everyone should care. As I wrote back in 2018, time crystals could be the miracle quantum computing needs. Time crystals have always been theoretical. And by ‘always,’ I mean: since 2012 when they were first hypothesized. If Google‘s actually created time-crystals, it could accelerate the timeline for quantum computing breakthroughs from ‘maybe never’ to ‘maybe within a few decades.’ At the far-fetched, super-optimistic end of things – we could see the creation of a working warp drive in our lifetimes. Imagine taking a trip to Mars or the edge of our solar system, and being back home on Earth in time to catch the evening news. And, even on the conservative end with more realistic expectations, it’s not hard to imagine quantum computing-based chemical and drug discovery leading to universally-effective cancer treatments. This could be the big eureka we’ve all been waiting for. I can’t wait to see what happens in peer-review.”

Yes, we too would like to see the outcome of that process. Will Google be trumpeting the results from the rooftops? Or will it quietly move on as with some previous Google endeavors?

It’s more likely that Google wants to generate some sciencey stuff to muffle the antitrust investigations, the Timnit Gebru matter, and the company’s data collection services which support online advertising.

Freeze that with a time crystal, please.

Cynthia Murrell, August 19, 2021


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