London in London and Londonstani in Southmead

My dad read me Jack London's The Call of the Wild when I was nine. I graduated from high school in a city that makes a big deal of its Jack London Square. Still, my ignorance is such that I didn't know until last week that London once chose to live among England's poor, document the experience, and write a first chapter about how the trickiest place to be a Global Pedestrian is sometimes just on the other side of town.

London was in London. This coincidence is a menace to clarity, a nuisance to blogger and blog-reader alike. The only way I see around it is to get specific. Let's forget London, the city, and note that London, the writer, wanted to immerse himself in a swath of England's capital city known as the East End — a place, the writer is warned in 1902, "where a man's life isn't worth tu'pence."


London writes that nobody knew how he might manage the epic voyage across town. So he visited a renowned travel agency:

But O Cook, O Thomas Cook & Son, pathfinders and trail-clearers, living sign-posts to all the world and bestowers of first aid to bewildered travellers — unhesitatingly and instantly, with ease and celerity, could you send me to Darkest Africa or Innermost Thibet [sic], but to the East End of London, barely a stone's throw distant from Ludgate Circus, you know not the way!
"You can't do it, you know," said the human emporium of routes and fares at Cook's Cheapside branch. "It is so — ahem — so unusual.'
"Consult the police," he concluded authoritatively, when I persisted. "We are not accustomed to taking travellers to the East End; we receive no call to take them there, and we know nothing whatsoever about the place at all."

London perseveres, makes it to the East End, swaps his own clothes for wrecked rags, and suddenly feels he's seeing the world as it is:

My frayed and out-at-elbows jacket was the badge and advertisement of my class, which was their class. It made me of like kind, and in place of the fawning and too-respectful attention I had hitherto received, I now shared with them a comradeship. The man in corduroy and dirty neckerchief no longer addressed me as "sir" or "governor." It was "mate," now — and a fine and hearty word, with a tingle to it, and a warmth and gladness, which the other term does not possess. Governor! It smacks of mastery, and power, and high authority — the tribute of the man who is under to the man on top, delivered in the hope that he will let up a bit and ease his weight.

This dynamic may be familiar to you if you've ever flown to the other side of the globe, craved the truth of an unfamiliar place, and experienced — in place of the truth — a series of inauthentic, deferential encounters with merchants, bellhops, beggars.

Consider, too, London's experience with the travel agent. Think of your own city. Would it be easier to book flights to Calcutta than a guided tour of your town's version of the East End? Would you rather fly to Calcutta than drive those few miles across town? If so, that's worth knowing about yourself. It's not that you need to follow London's example and dress in rags among the destitute. Rather, remembering that parts of even your own city are foreign and incomprehensible to you might inoculate you against all kinds of misplaced certainty — like, say, if you're a U.S. president and a handful of Iraqi exiles assure you that typical Iraqis will greet American troops as liberators.

I see something of Jack London's East End experience in a post the blogger "Londonstani" wrote last week about living the harassed life of a typical Pakistani immigrant as part of a documentary about Southmead.

Londonstani called the post "Preventing Terrorism at Home" and wrote, "I often thought of British Pakistani and Somali boys growing up thinking their experiences were an accurate portrayal of what Britain was about. I imagined growing up with such a view of Britain would make the idea of fighting UK forces in Muslim lands seem righteous."

Despite the high stakes, according to Londonstani, "people in Britain's more affluent areas are unaware of what happens in neighbourhoods literally on their doorsteps."

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  • That's starting to change.
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Quantum computing has existed in theory since the 1980's. It's slowly making its way into fact, the latest of which can be seen in a paper published in Nature called, "Deterministic teleportation of a quantum gate between two logical qubits."

To ensure that we're all familiar with a few basic terms: in electronics, a 'logic gate' is something that takes in one or more than one binary inputs and produces a single binary output. To put it in reductive terms: if you produce information that goes into a chip in your computer as a '0,' the logic gate is what sends it out the other side as a '1.'

A quantum gate means that the '1' in question here can — roughly speaking — go back through the gate and become a '0' once again. But that's not quite the whole of it.

A qubit is a single unit of quantum information. To continue with our simple analogy: you don't have to think about computers producing a string of information that is either a zero or a one. A quantum computer can do both, simultaneously. But that can only happen if you build a functional quantum gate.

That's why the results of the study from the folks at The Yale Quantum Institute saying that they were able to create a quantum gate with a "process fidelity" of 79% is so striking. It could very well spell the beginning of the pathway towards realistic quantum computing.

The team went about doing this through using a superconducting microwave cavity to create a data qubit — that is, they used a device that operates a bit like a organ pipe or a music box but for microwave frequencies. They paired that data qubit with a transmon — that is, a superconducting qubit that isn't as sensitive to quantum noise as it otherwise could be, which is a good thing, because noise can destroy information stored in a quantum state. The two are then connected through a process called a 'quantum bus.'



That process translates into a quantum property being able to be sent from one location to the other without any interaction between the two through something called a teleported CNOT gate, which is the 'official' name for a quantum gate. Single qubits made the leap from one side of the gate to the other with a high degree of accuracy.

Above: encoded qubits and 'CNOT Truth table,' i.e., the read-out.

The team then entangled these bits of information as a way of further proving that they were literally transporting the qubit from one place to somewhere else. They then analyzed the space between the quantum points to determine that something that doesn't follow the classical definition of physics occurred.


They conclude by noting that "... the teleported gate … uses relatively modest elements, all of which are part of the standard toolbox for quantum computation in general. Therefore ... progress to improve any of the elements will directly increase gate performance."

In other words: they did something simple and did it well. And that the only forward here is up. And down. At the same time.

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