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By Namerah S
Virgin Media launches hologram dining experience in the UK
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
It has been over a year now since the novel coronavirus first clasped its iron grip on the world. In the UK, things are finally starting to look better as educational institutions, businesses and care homes are starting to open up to visitors once again. However, many are still unable to meet their loved ones and have to communicate through other means.
In an effort to close the gap between such stranded people, Virgin Media has started a new service at two outlets of the Two Hearts Pizzeria. The London and Edinburgh outlets of the restaurant are offering an unusual dining experience to customers while maintaining social distancing rules. Visitors can now participate in a hologram dining experience at these locations.
Customers eating at either outlet will be able to virtually dine with each other in real-time. Virgin described the technology used in the newly launched initiative in the following words:
Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media, released a statement about the holographic dining experience introduced by Virgin:
Dr James Bellini, a leading British futurologist, has commented on the holographic dining experience. Dr Bellini believes that in the years to come, the use of holograms will be normalized. His belief stems from the fact that allegedly many Britons are 'bored of video calls' and feel that holograms would be more humanistic and emotionally connective.
The hologram dinners are planned to accommodate 30 people in the next two days, but customers need to reserve seats beforehand. You can find out more on the Virgin Media website.
By Ather Fawaz
CERN develops 3D-printed plastic scintillators for neutrino detectors
by Ather Fawaz
Image via CERN Neutrinos are perhaps one of the most elusive yet ubiquitous particles around us. Researchers at CERN have invested heavily in detecting these ghastly particles with the T2K experiment, which is a leading neutrino oscillation experiment in Japan.
However, scientists are looking to upgrade the experiment’s detector to yield more precise results. Plastic scintillators are frequently employed in such neutrino oscillation experiments, where they reconstruct the final state of the neutrino interaction. The upgraded detector requires a two-tonne polystyrene-based plastic scintillator detector that is segmented into 1 cm^3 cubes. These small cubes yield precise results but require finer granularity which ultimately makes the detector assembly harder.
With this trade-off in mind, the CERN EP-Neutrino group in collaboration with the Institute for Scintillation Materials (ISMA) of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine developed a new plastic scintillator production technique that involves additive manufacturing. Jargon aside, the solution involves 3D-printing a single gargantuan block of scintillator containing many optically independent cubes.
The preliminary test runs of the 3D-printed cube have shown promising results thus far and demonstrate the proof of concept.
However, CERN noted that the complete adoption of these 3D-printed scintillators requires fine-tuning of the 3D-printer configuration and further optimization of the scintillator parameters before the light reflector material for optically isolating the cubes can be developed. Nevertheless, the team noted that the technique is worth exploring. This is due to the fact that 3D-printed plastic scintillators are not only robust and cost-effective but their potential applications extend beyond the domain of high energy physics to fields like cancer therapy where particle detectors are often used.
By Ather Fawaz
Neural networks are now being used to track exotic particles at CERN
by Ather Fawaz
Image via CERN Research within the domain of physics has profited from the rise of artificial neural networks and deep learning. In the past, we've seen them being applied to study dark matter and massive galaxies. Continuing this pattern, we now have artificial neural networks being used in the study of exotic particles.
At the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), which is a particle detector built on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, researchers are using neural networks to identify atypical experimental signatures resulting from proton–proton collisions inside the LHC.
These experimental signatures are hard to track for traditional algorithms as most of the 'debris' generated by a collision is short-lived. But neural networks can prove to be potent in this situation. This is due to the fact that they can be trained on real-world data.
CMS' neural network has been trained with such data and will soon be in a position to detect the experimental signatures automatically. For training, the researchers have used domain adaptation by backward propagation to improve the simulation modeling of the jet class probability distributions observed in collision data.
The model has shown promising results thus far. During the analysis of a particle track where the probability of correctly identifying a jet from a long-lived particle was 50%, the model misidentified only one regular jet in every thousand and demonstrated a low count of false negatives and false positives.
CERN believes that the new system will help advance the firm's quest for finding ephemeral and exotic particles. For more information, you may study the paper published on arXiv.
By Ather Fawaz
The LHC has just been connected to the High-Luminosity LHC, and other updates from CERN
by Ather Fawaz
Under Long Shutdown 2, operations at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are currently at a hiatus since 2017, and the particle accelerator is undergoing a period of extensive upgrades and repairs. Just this week, civil engineers working at CERN made a junction between the underground facilities at Points 1 and 5 of the accelerator, essentially connecting the LHC to its successor, the High-Luminosity LHC.
Moreover, while initial reports suggested that the Large Hadron Collider would be up and running for its next run in March 2021, the schedule has been now been revised. Under the revised dates, which were presented by the CERN Management to the Council in yesterday's meeting, the LHC will resume operations in May 2021 instead. Also, Run 3 has been extended by one year to the end of 2024. After this, the accelerator will undergo Long Shutdown 3 whereby the equipment needed for the High-Luminosity LHC will be installed. Eventually, near the end of 2027, the much-anticipated successor will see the light of the day.
The High-Luminosity LHC will accrue ten times more data than the current LHC and will thus be able to "detect extremely rare phenomena and improve the precision of measurements of the infinitesimally small". Explaining the extension of the upgrade period, CERN wrote, "the extra time will enable them to ready themselves for Run 3 and, then, for the High-Luminosity LHC."
By Ather Fawaz
Intel unveils Horse Ridge, a cryogenic SoC for making quantum computers commercially viable
by Ather Fawaz
Image via Intel Newsroom IBM, Microsoft, and Google have been the pacesetters in quantum computing in recent months. From the controversial 'quantum supremacy' to the proof that shallow quantum circuits perform exponentially better, the realm of quantum computing has been rife with activity. Now, Intel is also joining the ranks and the firm's approach is considerably distinct.
Today, Intel unveiled Horse Ridge, a first-of-its-kind, highly integrated cryogenic (operating at temperatures about 4 Kelvin) SoC that is geared towards speeding up the development of full-stack quantum computers. Horse Ridge, named after one of the coldest regions in Oregon, will reduce the complexity of controlling and managing quantum circuits. And it was made using Intel's 22nm FinFET technology in collaboration with Intel’s research partners at QuTech.
Stefano Pellerano, Principal Engineer at Intel Labs, holding Horse Ridge Horse Ridge will be targeting what Intel believes to be a major obstacle in the road towards commercially viable quantum computing—control electronics and interconnections.
The SoC will act as a radio frequency processor and thereby simplify the control of multiple qubits inside the cryogenic refrigerator.
Horse Ridge, Intel believes, will help in the firm's development of silicon spin qubit and superconducting qubit systems.
Currently, a vital component of a quantum computer is a refrigerator which keeps the qubits operating at temperatures tantalizingly close to absolute zero (0 Kelvin). But silicon spin qubits, which Intel is working on, have certain properties that can allow them to run at temperatures close to 1 Kelvin.
So Intel's aim with Horse Ridge is to operate cryogenic controls and silicon spin qubits at the same temperature as that will mark a step towards reducing the refrigeration needs for quantum computers. Consequently, this would be a step in the right direction to deal with one of the biggest hindrances in making quantum computing commercially viable.
For more information, you may read Intel's official announcement.