Carbon nanotubes may be the key to shrinking down transistors and squeezing more computer power into less space.
Historically, the number of transistors that can be crammed onto a computer chip has doubled every two years or so, a trend known as Moore’s law. But that rule seems to be nearing its limit: Today's silicon transistors can’t get much smaller than they already are.
John Archibald Wheeler was fond of clever phrases.
He made the term “black hole” famous in the 1960s. He also coined the now-familiar “wormhole” and “quantum foam.” While further pondering the mystery of quantum physics at the University of Texas at Austin during the 1980s, Wheeler repeatedly uttered his favorite interrogative slogan: “How come the quantum?” And from those ponderings...
Although the term “quantum computer” might suggest a miniature, sleek device, the latest incarnations are a far cry from anything available in the Apple Store. In a laboratory just 60 kilometers north of New York City, scientists are running a fledgling quantum computer through its paces — and the whole package looks like something that might be found in a dark corner of a basement. The...
Many Americans were outraged over Russia’s e-mail hacking during the 2016 presidential election and expected a vigorous response from the U.S. government. But new research that views cyberattacks from a game theory perspective suggests that the delayed response was a sound one.
While instinct suggests that such attacks deserve swift retaliation, viewing cyberwarfare through a...
In the battle of wits between humans and machines, computers have just upped the ante.
Two new poker-playing programs can best professionals at heads-up no-limit Texas Hold’em, a two-player version of poker without restrictions on the size of bets. It’s another in a growing list of complex games, including chess, checkers (SN: 7/21/07, p. 36) and Go (SN: 12/24/16, p. 28), in which...
50 Years Ago
Computers that hear
Computer engineers have dreamed of a machine that would translate speech into something that a vacuum tube or transistor could understand. Now at last, some promising hardware is being developed.... It is still a long way from the kind of science fiction computer that can understand sentences or long speeches. — Science News, March 4, 1967Update
50 Years Ago
First germanium integrated circuits
Integrated circuits made of germanium instead of silicon have been reported … by researchers at International Business Machines Corp. Even though the experimental devices are about three times as large as the smallest silicon circuits, they reportedly offer faster overall switching speed. Germanium … has inherently greater mobility than silicon, which...
News in Brief
A computer scientist has taken his colleagues on a rollercoaster ride.
In the span of several days, László Babai of the University of Chicago walked back his earlier claim of making a major advance on a classic puzzle of computer science, only to reinstate it after fixing an error in his work.
At issue is the problem of “graph isomorphism,” which demands that a computer determine...
Hollywood space flicks typically feature one type of hero: astronauts who defy the odds to soar into space and back again. But now a group of behind-the-scenes heroes from the early days of the U.S. space program are getting their due. Black female mathematicians performed essential calculations to safely send astronauts to and from Earth’s surface — in defiance of flagrant...
In a hotel ballroom in Seoul, South Korea, early in 2016, a centuries-old strategy game offered a glimpse into the fantastic future of computing.
The computer program AlphaGo bested a world champion player at the Chinese board game Go, four games to one (SN Online: 3/15/16). The victory shocked Go players and computer gurus alike. “It happened much faster than people expected,” says...