Archive for December 8, 2019

Arrival of Storm Atiyah

Posted in Biographical, Cardiff with tags , , on December 8, 2019 by telescoper

I was a bit alarmed when I saw this weather forecast map on Friday. At first I thought it meant that Ireland was about to be swallowed by a black hole but when I realised it was Storm Atiyah I had the lesser but still significant concern that my flight home from Cardiff would be disrupted.

As it happened the flight was on time, though the blustery winds at Dublin Airport ahead of the storm made for a more than slightly bumpy landing.

I was in one of these:

It’s a Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 operated by FlyBe. I had a window seat on the right hand side so had a good view as we bobbled around on the way in to land. The wings being above the level of the cabin and my seat being next to the starboard engine I could see the right undercarriage come down as we approached. We weren’t quite level when we reached the runway though and I felt and heard the left set of wheels touch down while the ones on the right I could see were still in the air. I could also see weren’t moving exactly parallel to the runway but slightly crosswise. We travelled for quite a few seconds on one set of wheels before we had both feet on the ground, so to speak. During that time I thought we might go off the side of the runway. When the right set of wheels did touch down, however, causing a big splash of water, only a slight correction was needed to point us in the right direction and all was well.

Pilots are if course trained to cope with windy conditions and I’m sure everything was always under control but I bet pilots do have to concentrate hard on such occasions.

Good News for Quantum Computing in Ireland (and Maynooth)!

Posted in Maynooth, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on December 8, 2019 by telescoper

I am sitting in Cardiff Airport waiting for my flight back to Dublin so I thought I’d pass on some good news that arrived last night.

Yesterday, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, together with Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, TD, announced that 16 innovative projects have been successful under the second round of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland. The projects will share €65 million out to 2022.

Graphic purporting to represent Quantum Computing

One of the projects selected for funding is called Quantum Computing in Ireland: A Software Platform for Multiple Qubit Technologies. To be eligible for this kind of funding, projects must involve businesses and this particular project includes IBM Ireland Ltd, MasterCard Ireland, Rockley Photonics and Equal 1 Laboratories, the latter two being SMEs based in the Dublin area. The project also involves the Tyndall National Institute (Cork); University College Dublin; and Maynooth University (full name: National University of Ireland, Maynooth). This is the first large collaboration in Ireland in this area.

The Maynooth involvement comes via the Department of Theoretical Physics, in the form of Dr Jiri Vala, so congratulations to him. I’m delighted that all the hard work that went into preparing and presenting this bid has paid off.

Maynooth will receive a relatively small (but still very welcome) slice of the financial cake (~€600k) but it’s nevertheless an important strategic success. In a difficult funding climate it is important for a small Department to get involved in collaborations, both nationally and internationally, and also to make the most of any opportunities that present themselves. That is not to say that we plan to neglect research in basic science, but this we have to strike a balance that allows both the flourish.

There’s another piece of good news for Quantum Computing in Ireland to report on top of this. The 2nd European Quantum Technologies Conference (EQTC 2020) will take place in late Noember next year in Dublin. The website is here.