Written by IainB
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Friday, 11 May 2012

image for Potatoes usher in the next age of computing
By putting deep fried fish beside the potato chips, scientists can stave off students eating their experiment

Potatoes may not seem the most technological of food stuffs, with aubergines seeming more advanced, but a breakthrough at the University of Manchester's Institute of Science and Technology has propelled the humble spud into the limelight of technology.

"We've been trying to create quantum computers for a few years now," said Paul Dirac, who headed the team. "Without much success. The problem was always de-coherence when too many quantum dots were put close enough to work together."

According to Dirac, one of his PhD students had a remarkable insight, and UMIST now has the world's first quantum computer, based on the potato.

"We found that King Edward potatoes make the best chips," said Dirac. "Each chip holds millions of quantum dots that can all perform billions of simultaneous calculations. The trick in converting a potato chip into a super fast quantum computer is the sprinkling of salt over them."

There are downsides, in that the chips are very tasty, and are quite often eaten before they can finish their calculations.

"You make your batch of chips in the traditional way," said Dirac. "Deep frying them. Sprinkle liberally with salt. These are then wired together with vinegar before you do as many calculations a you can before some hungry student scoffs the lot."

With the breakthrough in potato chip based quantum computing, scientists around the world are examining other foodstuffs to see if they too can be quantum computers. As yet, without success.

"Some Silicon Valley guys almost got one working with carrot chips," said Dirac. "These were slower than potato chips, but did have the advantage of not being as tasty, so they lasted longer."

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