Thursday, June 22, 2017

As the Feds Cut Scientific Research – Here Comes China

Even though U.S. and Japan continue to file more patents than China, American hard patent filings are falling; the federal budget calls for massive reductions in support of scientific research (particularly government research grants and direct research budgets for government agencies). For decades, we have pictured China as living off the unlawful exploitation of purloined international patents, reverse engineering and second level copycat products. Well, “Great Americans,” that is changing.
“China's PCT [patent, copyright, trademark] applications exceeded 29,800 in 2015 with an increase of 16.8 percent China's international patent and trademark filing record has been remarkable in the backdrop of a moderate worldwide intellectual property (IP) filing growth, according to the latest figures released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).” (3/17/16).
In June of 2016, China also passed the United States in the number of supercomputers as Chinese universities and government agencies turned their focus to eclipsing technological development; their goal is to replace the United States as the top innovator on earth. As the United States pulled out of the voluntary-compliance Paris climate change accord, China instantly stepped up their efforts to sell their alternative energy technologies (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.) to the world. But that was the lower level of technical achievement.
China has now tackled the extreme complex field of applying quantum physics to create an unhackable communications system using entangled photon pairs beamed by satellite from space. Huh?
The June 17th Los Angeles Times explains: “For the first time, pairs of entangled photons have been beamed from a satellite in orbit to two receiving stations almost 1,500 miles away on Earth… At the same time, the researchers were able to deliberately separate the entangled photon pairs along a greater distance than has ever been recorded.
The experiment, described Thursday [6/15] in the journal Science, represents the first measurable proof of an idea that has long been theorized but never tested, experts said. And it could lead one day to an unhackable form of communication.
‘This is the first time you have a quantum channel between a satellite and the ground that you can actually use,’ said Norbert Luetkenhaus, a professor at the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo in Canada who was not involved in the new work. ‘People have been talking about doing it for many, many years, but these guys actually did it.’
“What are entangled photon pairs?... A photon is a tiny particle of light. In fact, it’s the smallest unit into which light can be broken. It has no mass and no charge.
“Entangled photons are a pair of photons whose properties are linked, and remain that way no matter how far apart they get… ‘If you make a measurement on one of the photons, you get a perfectly correlated outcome on the other member of the pair,” Luetkenhaus said… And that will hold true not matter how many times you look at them.
“‘One measurement alone doesn’t tell you they are entangled; you need to repeat it many times,’ he said. ‘With entangled photons, no matter what you measure, or how many times you measure, or which side of the pair you measure, you always get perfect correlation.’
“How is this possible?... Scientists have not been able to explain why entanglement occurs. All they know is that it exists…. Albert Einstein referred to the phenomenon of entanglement as ‘spooky action at a distance.’ Others have said it is kind of like the physics version of voodoo… How did the researchers beam entangled photons from space?... They built a special satellite to do it… The spacecraft, nicknamed Micius after an ancient Chinese scientist, launched in August 2016… It is loaded with a special crystal that can split a single incoming photon into two daughter photons with joint properties.
“For this experiment, instruments on the satellite separated the entangled photons and sent them to different receiving stations on Earth… To do this, Micius had to aim at its targets with an amazing degree of precision, said Jian-Wei Pan, a physicist at the University of Science and Technology of China who led the work… ‘It’s the equivalent of clearly seeing a human hair at a distance of 900 feet away,’ he said.
“Was building a satellite really necessary?... Yes, it was necessary — and challenging, experts say…‘Designing, launching and operating a satellite with this capability is no easy feat,’ Luetkenhaus said. ‘I see this as a great engineering triumph.’… But, as the study demonstrates, using a satellite to send beams of entangled photons to Earth is a better strategy than using optical fibers to distribute them.”
But this blog is not about this incredible new photon-driven technology; it’s about the Republican platform of “repeal” American scientific/technological superiority and “replace” it with Chinese-supported, maximized scientific dominance. Austerity or stupidity? This U.S. withdrawal from globalization, international involvement, worldwide treaties creates a new form of “follow America” that China has been so good at over the years. But today, China simply steps in every time the United States steps away. And once China secures its place with fully-negotiated trade alliances and international treaties, America’s ability to step back in… well… let’s just say, it cannot happen any time soon no matter which party is in power.
I’m Peter Dekom, and what do you think about Donald Trump’s de facto “Make China Great Again” policies?

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