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Quantum Computers are All 'Terrible' — But Researchers Aren't Worried

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The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory can detect gravitational waves that are generated when two black holes collide.

Credit: The SXS Project

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is back after a three-year hiatus and a multimillion-dollar upgrade. The first detection of gravitational waves — ripples in space–time from colliding black holes and other cosmic cataclysms — was made at LIGO in 2015. Improvements to the detectors' sensitivity mean that LIGO could pick up signals of colliding black holes every few days, compared with once a week during its previous run. Scientists hope to detect the gravitational signal of a collapsing star before it manifests as a supernova explosion, as well as the continuous gravitational waves produced by a pulsar.

A wireless connection between the brain and the spinal cord allows a paralysed man to walk using his thoughts. Gert-Jan Oskam, whose legs were paralysed after a cycling accident, received a spinal implant in 2018 that generated robotic movement through pre-programmed electrical stimulation. He has now received head implants that detect brain activity and transmit the signal to a backpack computer, which decodes the information and activates the spinal pulse generator. This brain–spine interface gives Oskam full control over the stimulation, so he can walk and climb stairs. "The stimulation before was controlling me and now I am controlling stimulation by my thought," he says.

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