I was shopping for plants last Thursday and I was about ready to check out with some basil, melons, and cucumbers when it dawned on me that there was a chance of frost early this week (today and tomorrow). I didn’t want to hang on to the plants for 5 or 6 days so I put a few back. I kept the frost tolerant plants such as cabbage and broccoli but even those I was reluctant to plant because at one point it looked like temps might drop into the upper 20s (which would be record territory) even in central Wisconsin. A record low is still possible in Wausau on Tuesday. The record is 28 and I am forecasting 32. The National Weather service will very likely issue another FROST ADVISORY for all of central Wisconsin for late tonight through early Tuesday morning.
So, I ended up baby-sitting all the vegetables and flowers inside. I plan on planting my broccoli and cabbage on Tuesday afternoon and buying peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, melons, etc… at the same time (to go in the ground later this week). Looking far ahead, there appears to be a small chance of frost toward the end of the month of May but it is small enough that I am going to take a risk and get all of my plants in the ground soon.
Of course, I already planted a few frost tolerant plants earlier this month – such as peas, spinach, lettuce, and onions. They are already growing.
In other news, you know I like to keep informed of cutting edge research and quantum computing has once again made the headlines. It is a familiar company (D-Wave) making the announcement, revealing how their quantum computer achieves its quantum state. I blogged about D-Wave’s revolutionary effort back in 2007. I also had the pleasure of interviewing D-Wave’s founder Geordie Rose a couple of times. At the time of the interviews, the company was promising big things in quantum computing but did not deliver, which made many mainstream physicists skeptical. I do not know what held them up but now they are revealing the “guts” of their computer and many people are excited again. D-Wave is promising another press release soon that will really raise eyebrows. I know they have been working with Google to create a better/faster image recognition process. One possibility is that they will announce that they have beaten classic computers (server farms, basically) in some image recognition/sorting task.
What does it mean for society at large? The most commented on possibility is that D-Wave’s quantum computer could make our current computer/internet cryptographic system obsolete. The Internet currently remains secure for commerce by using 128 bit encryption. With such a large number (bits) used for encryption, it is nearly impossible for anyone without a very large supercomputer to break the security of the Internet. With a quantum computer that uses 128 bits, it would be a breeze to break encryption. It is a concern, but I suspect quantum physicists would eventually come up with a way to produce secure data transmission even in a world where quantum computers exist. Quantum computers would also be able to easily solve other special problems in mathematics like the travelling salesman or large factoring. I am unsure at this point if there would be an application in weather forecasting. Even though weather forecasting (by computer) is very complex, it is a different type of mathematical problem. My initial feeling is that weather calculations/simulations would have to be re-cast in a different mathematical form in order to take advantage of quantum computing.
Have a good Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.