Ready to get swept away into the wild, wild abyss known as quantum computing
? If not, we're certain there's a less mentally taxing post above or below, but for those who answered the call, researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz have a doozie to share. A team of whiz kids at the institution have developed a minuscule optical device that's built into a silicon
chip, and it's capable of reducing the speed of light by a factor of 1,200. If you're wondering why on Earth humans would be interested in doing such a thing, here's the long and short of it: the ability to control light pulses on an integrated chip-based platform "is a major step toward the realization of all-optical quantum communication networks, with potentially vast improvements in ultra-low-power performance." Today, data transmitted along optical fibers must still eventually be converted to electronic signals before they're finally understood, but the promise of an all-optical data processing system could obviously reduce inefficiencies and create communication networks that are far quicker and more robust. There's still no telling how far we are from this becoming a reality -- after all, we've been hearing similar since at least 2006
-- but at least these folks seem to be onto something good... even if it's all too familiar.