Announcing winners of NI Photo Contest 2018

The winners of the fifth edition of Nature India photo contest have now been chosen after a week of unprecedented activity on the Indigenus blog and our social media channels (Facebook and Twitter ), and brainstorming by a global jury comprising members of the Nature Research editorial and design teams as well as an independent vector-borne diseases scientist.

The photographs have been judged for their adherence to this year’s theme ‘Vector-borne diseases’, for their creative thinking, quality and print worthiness. They were also rated in part on the engagement they received on social media.

The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 is:

Sudip Maitifrom Kolkata, India

for his striking image titled ‘Safe from dengue’, a simple yet powerful message around prevention of vector-borne diseases.

Sudip Maiti

Sudip says this about his image:

Sudip Maiti

This two-year-old boy plays safely inside a mosquito net in Kolkata,West Bengal, India. Over 13,000 people were affected by the vector-borne disease in the State of west Bengal alone in the year 2017, while the official death count reached 30.

As a simple preventive measure, the use of mosquito net is widespread among the residents of this eastern metropolis.

In second position is:

Aditya Kanwal from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, Punjab, India

with his picture titled ‘The pretty side of mosquitoes‘ that beautifully brings out a not so known facet of the deadly vector. 

Aditya Kanwal

Aditya says:

Aditya Kanwal

Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals on Earth. They kill more humans than any other organism does. However, of around 3500 mosquito species, only a few are disease carriers. And only the females bite humans. Most mosquitoes don’t bother humans, and actually play a very important role in our ecosystem. Mosquito adults as well as larvae are important source of food for birds, amphibians and fishes. This means, eradicating them completely may drastically impact the food chain. Mosquitoes are also essential pollinators for many plant species and provide nutrition to some of them such as the pitcher plants.

Therefore, complete removal of mosquitoes may also have detrimental effects on several plant species. Some people argue that it won’t be long before other species occupy the niche. But it takes millions of years for organisms to co-evolve. So in case mosquitoes go extinct, it may take some more sacrifices and a long time for the ecosystem to stabilise.

What the world needs is smarter, targeted strategies to control only the disease-causing species of mosquitoes. Initial trials with genetically modified male mosquitoes, that are unable to carry a vector or produce lethal offspring when they mate, are showing promise. With all the funding that’s going into mosquito research, we may soon have a sane solution to tackle our biggest enemy with minimum collateral damage.

The third prize goes to:

Nitin Gupta, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India

for his image ‘Mosquito: an accidental killer‘ where he bravely clicked a mosquito feasting on a blood meal on his hand.

Nitin Gupta

Nitin says:

Female mosquitoes bite us because they need blood to nourish their eggs. The bite itself is not harmful: the tiny belly of a mosquito, seen in the photograph, can take no more than a few microliters of blood at a time, while the human body produces 10 times more every minute. What makes the bite dangerous occasionally is what the mosquito leaves behind, which could be a deadly parasite.

The photograph shows a female Culex mosquito gorging on my left hand, which I captured using a camera held in the right hand.

Congratulations to the winners!

The jury also wants to make special mention of the entries by finalists Preethi Krishnamoorthy, Kairamkonda Subhash and K. S. Praveen Kumar, all of whom gave tough competition to the winners.

The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 will get a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

These winning photos and those of 7 other finalists will be featured in a roving exhibition at four venues in India, details of which we will announce as we firm up these events.

The story behind the story: VTE

In this week’s Futures story, S. R. Algernon makes a welcome return to discuss the pitfalls of scientific progress with VTE. Regular readers will undoubtedly have read some of S. R. Algernon’s other pieces for Futures (there’s a full list at the foot of this post). You can catch up with his latest work at his website or by following him on Twitter. Here, he reveals what inspired his latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.

Writing VTE

The inspiration for VTE came when I noticed a conceptual similarity between the ‘vicarious trial and error’ experiments (done by Muenzinger in 1938 and discussed in Tolmans’s influential 1948 paper on cognitive maps1), the double-slit experiments (such as Taylor, 1909)2 and the more famous Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment from 19353. It occurred to me that each allowed an entity to pursue both paths at a decision point. What if, I wondered, quantum computing could allow people (and rats) to learn from all possible outcomes of an action by somehow yoking their outcomes to a quantum event?

I confess that I am not a physicist and that what I propose in VTE might be utter fantasy. However, I think the metaphor itself is compelling. Who among us wouldn’t want to be able to feel regret or loss at the point of a major life decision, when there is still time to choose a different path? I decided to set the story at a scientific conference because it was an appropriate place for characters to explain scientific theories. I introduced the poisoning to provide a concrete threat, inspired by some of the horrifying real-world incidents of poisoning in recent years.

This story owes a debt to many other ‘many worlds’ stories, in particular Sarah Pinsker’s And Then There Were (N-One)4 and Ten Sigmas by Paul Melko5. I like to think that my story draws from the scientific literature in a different way than the earlier works, but VTE undoubtedly stands on the shoulder of literary and scientific giants.

1. Tolman, E. C. Psychol. Rev. 55, 189–208 (1948). Article

2. Taylor, G. I. Proc. Camb. Philos. Soc. 15, 114-115 (1909). Article

3. Schrödinger, E. Naturwissenschaften 23, 823–828 (1935). Article

4. Pinsker, S. ‘And Then There Were (N-One)’ Uncanny Magazine (2017). Article

5. Melko, P. ‘Ten Sigmas’ in Ten Sigmas and Other Unlikelihoods (Fairwood Press, 2008).

Other Futures stories by S. R. Algernon

A time for peace | Planetary defences | Cargo cult | A pocket full of phlogiston | The chains of plenty | Asymmetrical warfare | In a new light | One slow step for man | Genius loci | Legacy admissions | In Cygnus and in Hell | The palimpsest planet | e-PLURIBUS | Home Cygnus

Interactions: Myfanwy Evans

Myfanwy Evans is an Emmy Noether Research Group Leader at the Institute for Mathematics, Technische Universität Berlin. Her research is in the field of geometry and topology in soft matter physics.

What did you train in? What are you working on now?

My undergraduate degree was in science, majoring in mathematics. My PhD was already in an interdisciplinary setting, officially part of “Physical Sciences”. It involved mathematics, physics, with some chemistry and biology on the side. Ever since my research has been swinging between mathematics and physics, depending on my collaborators and students at the time. My current research is focused on a theoretical framework to understand tangling in soft matter systems. It uses geometry and topology to investigate how filaments can tangle in a variety of settings, in the view of making a connection with protein and polymer physics.

Do you think of yourself as a mathematician or physicist?

Both and neither! Much of the content of my research is geometry, but the style in which I do it is more physics. However, I like to define my research via the problem that I am trying to solve rather than a specific discipline and I don’t like to be restricted by the methodology or traditions of a specific discipline.

What motivated you to move to this field of research?

I had already started in this general area as a PhD student, and it really grabbed me as an interesting topic. I finished my PhD with far more questions than answers, and this has snowballed into an array of research topics that I am still working on today. My motivation to continue in this direction is driven by my own curiosity, and a kind of religious belief that the results I am getting are so beautiful that they must be important.

What are the main challenges and the main advantages of working in an interdisciplinary team?

The main advantages are that everyone can bring something unique to the table, and the breadth of expertise opens really interesting research directions. I find that the students feel less constrained by their prior knowledge and disciplinary expertise, and are able to work on broad problems from many perspectives, learning a huge amount along the way. The main challenge is keeping the research also relevant to specific fields, in particular for PhD students who wish to stick to a more traditional discipline. Finding the right place to publish, that means reaching the right readership, is always a key problem too.

Do you find it particularly difficult to obtain funding? Or to get your research published?

I think that interdisciplinary research has become a big focus of many funding agencies, and in general I don’t find any major obstacles in obtaining funding from the standard sources. I find the same with scientific publications, where new interdisciplinary findings are often published. Of course, there are exceptions and I have a handful of examples of journals claiming that the research is “not physics” or “not mathematics”, without refereeing the scientific content. But these are few and far between.

 

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #10

Today we are announcing the last finalist of the Nature India photo contest 2018 — finalist number 10:

Preethi Krishnamoorthy, Project Assistant, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, India

Photo caption: Sting of death

Preethi Krishnamoorthy

Preethi captured this photo of a mosquito feeding on plant nectar, the mosquito’s main food (not blood, as popularly assumed), in June 2018 at Srirangapatna in Karnataka, India. She describes it thus:

Preethi Krishnamoorthy

Of the millions of animals known to mankind, no other animal has claimed as many lives as the ordinary mosquito. In India, the most common diseases transmitted by mosquitoes are  malaria, dengue, lymphatic filariasis, kala-azar, Japanese encephalitis and chikungunya, dengue being the most rapidly spreading vector-borne disease in the world. While the existence of these viruses and parasites are beyond our control, their spread via mosquitoes is accentuated by man-made climate change.

With the increase in global temperatures, we are creating more mosquito-friendly habitats. Mosquitoes are now spreading to higher latitudes and altitudes and spreading diseases to places where they never existed before.

Congratulations Preethi for getting into our top ten!

And with that we come to the end of our long list for the 2018 contest! The contest got us some wonderful entries from around the world. We are delighted to have received a wide variety of entries despite the tougher than usual theme in ‘vector-borne diseases, which called for more thought, creativity and originality.

Over the last ten days, we rolled out the top ten finalists of 5th edition of the Nature India photo contest 2018 in no particular order of merit. Watch this space as we announce the top three winners of the contest by the end of January 2019.

Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. Till then, promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.

The winner of the contest will get a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #9

Two more to go in the long list. Announcing the Nature India photo contest 2018 finalist number nine:

Kairamkonda Subhash, Research Associate, Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Lubbock, Texas, USA

Photo caption: A breeding haven

Kairamkonda Subhash

Subhash explains his photo thus:

Kairamkonda Subhash

At first look this picture looks too cluttered. But that is how these water-logged mosquito breeding places are! You can see both mosquitoes and their larvae in the image.

This water puddle was formed by accumulation of rain water in the buttress root network of a Gulmohar (Delonix regia) tree. The red colour, characteristic of the trees bright flowers and interestingly symbolising blood on which the mosquitoes feed, was created by drowned petals.

Regulating mosquito population is key to reducing the vector-borne diseases. The first step in this process would be to eliminate mosquito breeding havens like these.

Welcome to the top ten, Subhash!

The 5th edition of the Nature India photo contest is now rolling out its long list of top ten in no particular order of merit. The contest themed “vector-borne diseases” was announced in November 2018 and has received some fabulous entries from around the world.

Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.

The winner of the contest will get a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #8

Rolling out finalist number eight in the Nature India Photo Contest 2018:

Rodrigo Nunes, Photographer, Brasília, Brazil

Photo caption: Fight against dengue

Rodrigo took this picture in January 2016 during a government awareness initiative in Brazlândia, an administrative region in the Federal District in Brazil. Rodrigo explains his picture thus:

Rodrigo Nunes

This photo was taken during an awareness campaign against Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue fever. The picture shows a health agent holding a test tube with the larva of Aedes Aegypti. The larva was found in the house of a resident in Brazlândia city. 

Brazil has reported cases of dengue in Acre, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, and São Paulo. Peak transmission is reported during the rainy season from January to May. During 2015-16, the country also suffered a Zika virus epidemic spread mainly by the same mosquito Aedes Aegypti. The epidemic was contained through massive multi-agency action in November 2016 but continues to feature high on the national public health priorities of the country.

Congratulations on getting into top ten, Rodrigo!

The 5th edition of the Nature India photo contest is now rolling out its long list of top ten in no particular order of merit. The contest themed “vector-borne diseases” was announced in November 2018 and has received some fabulous entries from around the world.

Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.

The winner of the contest will get a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #7

Time now to announce the Nature India photo contest 2018 finalist number seven:

K. S. Praveen Kumar, Senior Photographer, Deshabhimani Daily, Kozhikkode, Kerala, India.

Photo Caption: Death in the times of Nipah

K. S. Praveen Kumar

During the first ever outbreak of the bat-borne Nipah virus in south India in May-June 2018, Praveen was on assignment from his newspaper to capture the tragedy that struck the Kozhikode district of Kerala. Praveen says: 

K. S. Praveen Kumar

This is the picture of a burial team in protective gear. As bodies of Nipah victims can be extremely infectious, the physical remains of one such victim are being taken for “safe burial” under the Ebola protocol at the Kozhikode Kannamparambu cemetery in Kerala.

When the whole of the district kept indoors, fearing the deadly Nipah virus and international tourists skipped flights to Kerala, my intention was to bring this deadly disease to light. The Nipah virus outbreak killed 17 people in the two affected districts of Kozhikode and Malappuram.

This emerging infectious disease spreads through secretions of infected bats. It can spread to humans through contaminated fruit, infected animals or through close contact with infected humans.

This picture of burial workers clad in protective gear that resemble spacesuits captures the grimness and horror associated with this deadly disease. Paradoxically though, despite the fear, grief and despair, relatives’ pleas for a traditional burial brought to fore the need for better awareness for such emerging infectious diseases.

Wonderful capture Praveen, and welcome to our top 10!

The 5th edition of the Nature India photo contest is now rolling out its long list of top ten in no particular order of merit. The contest themed “vector-borne diseases” was announced in November 2018 and has received some fabulous entries from around the world.

Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.

The winner of the contest will get a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.

The rise of open source in quantum physics research

Post by Nathan Shammah and Shahnawaz Ahmed.

Open-source scientific computing is empowering research and reproducibility. It forms one of the principles of the ‘open science’ movement, which aims to promote the spread of scientific knowledge without barriers. Open-source software refers to code which can be read, modified and distributed by anyone and for any purpose under the various open-source compliant licenses. This ‘open source way’ could extend beyond just software and is impacting quantum physics research in radically different ways.

Quantum-tech open source

Quantum computing represents a different computational paradigm from conventional computing: it exploits quantum mechanics at the algorithmic level. As quantum algorithms need to be run on quantum devices, advances in hardware development, currently underway, are crucial. At the same time also software for quantum computing needs to be developed for various purposes – compilation, control, noise modeling, simulation and verification. Open source is driving the development of the quantum computing software ecosystem [Fingerhuth18].

To some extent, the very structure of research in quantum technology is being reshaped by open-source projects to a new degree, for example allowing theorists to run quantum physics experiments from the cloud, without ever entering the lab (to the relief of experimentalists) [Zeng17]. In most cases, the tools are open source in a bid to involve the community of researchers and software developers to come together to build the next generation of software for quantum computing.

Beyond quantum computing there is also a broader area of quantum physics research that is being driven by open source. Some projects aim to provide a broad set of tools which can be used for quantum physics research, such as QuTiP, a Python toolbox for open quantum system simulations, which was started as early as 2011 [Johannson12]. Recently tools such as QuantumOptics.jl (a Julia package for quantum optics simulations) or Google-backed Open Fermion (simulating fermionic interactions and other chemistry problems) have been released for tackling different types of research problems. Other projects are purpose-specific, such as Pennylane (focussing on machine learning and quantum physics), ProjectQ (translating quantum programs to “any back-end”), and NetKet (Neural Network Quantum states for solving quantum many body problems). A community-maintained list of software can be found here.

 Factors contributing to the rise of scientific research with open-source software

Scientific progress is fueled by collaborations and development of ideas from others. In the same spirit, open-source is built upon the contributions of the community and there are several factors that are leading to its adoption beyond quantum physics research.

Firstly, open-source libraries allow fast reproducibility of results. By preventing the reinventing of the wheel and the need to start projects from scratch, they allow for a rapid development, testing and prototyping of ideas and extending previous work. This accelerates the rate of discovery, as new results can be investigated by other researchers tinkering with existing code.

Secondly, there are a variety of tools that increase productivity and collaboration. There is a general trend in scientific research in working in larger teams [Fortunato18] and open-source tools are helping in that. Github or Gitlab are websites that coordinate delocalized teams to work on the same coding project (similarly to Dropbox for file syncing and Overleaf for typewriting). One can also work interactively on code with solutions such as the Jupyter Lab computational environment, Google Colaboratory or CoCalc.

Then, there are well established tools for open-source software development from start to finish:  Travis CI, Anaconda, and the community-managed ‘conda-forge’ channel, can all be set-up easily to take care of testing, continuous integration and software packaging and distribution.

Finally, there are tools specifically crafted to better adapt to the modern characteristics of research publication, in which papers in journals have a background of data or software. Zenodo for example allows the publication of open-source software together with published papers and instantly attributes to it a DOI reference, without waiting for the (sometime lengthy) peer-review process. The crystallization of software is also a guarantee for reviewers and other researchers who might want to use the same code.

Python and machine learning as success stories for open source

 The benefits of the open-source approach can be clearly seen in machine learning, especially deep neural networks. Suddenly, it has become very easy to tinker and use even the most advanced methods in machine learning thanks to the availability of code and tools to modify and run them. With Google’s TensorFlow or Facebook-backed PyTorch, the power of deep neural networks reached the masses, leading to very creative applications.

As a result, we are also witnessing the impact of machine learning to all areas of natural sciences and tasks, from designing quantum experiments [Melnikov18] to detecting gravitational waves [Gabbard18].

An important factor for the wide adoption and use of machine learning tools is Python. It is an interpreted programming language that has seen a steady growth in adoption, based on a wide environment of modular independent software packages (libraries) that can be used together for numerics (SciPy), generating visualizations (Matplotlib), sharing code (Jupyter notebooks) and much more.

For some applications, Python’s limited computational performance (generally lower than C, C++ or FORTRAN) can be overcome by writing parts of the code in other languages and calling them from Python or using targeted solutions such as Numba or Cython to compile parts of the code into fast machine code.

But what really sets it apart its intrinsic code-writing efficiency and speed of developing prototypes, as one can more easily debug software on the go. As pointed out by Guido Van Rossum, the creator of Python, in a recent video interview for the MIT AI lecture series, scientific research through numerical means is usually a trial-and error creative approach, where the very investigative process benefits from an interactive feedback loop. The faster the loop, the faster the distillation of code.

Can quantum physics and quantum computing follow in this path by going the open-source way, accelerating the discovery of physical phenomena? Below we provide an example drawn from our recent experience.

PIQS: an example of open source package for physics research

 A major drawback in the development of quantum technology is the emergence of stronger noise as the system size grows, a process generally referred to as decoherence. The quantum system is never completely isolated, like Schrödinger’s cat inside the box, but is ‘open’ to interactions with the environments. The theoretical description of such coherence-averse processes in many-body quantum physics dynamics is itself problematic. This is because the very computational space grows exponentially with the number of qubits N, faster than 2^N (actually a daunting 4^N even if major assumptions simplifying the possible correlations of the open system are made).

We have recently released an open-source library, the permutational invariant quantum solver (PIQS) [Shammah18], to simulate a broad range of effects with an exponential advantage over the straightforward simulation of the open quantum dynamics. With PIQS, it is possible to include local effects in the noisy dynamics and energy dissipation, as well as the incoherent influx of energy from an external source, such as that mediated by a pumped cavity field by intermediate Raman processes in clouds of atoms illuminated by laser light [Baumann10,Bohnet12].

PIQS is quite versatile and addresses a series of open questions in the thermodynamics of quantum systems. This library can describe a broad range non-equilibrium effects in large systems of qubits, or ensembles of two-level systems, such as Dicke superradiance, which is the cooperative emission of light from an ensemble of identical two-level systems, in presence of sub-optimal experimental conditions, such as in solid-state devices, in which inhomogeneous broadening and local dephasing spoil the simple textbook picture of coherent light-matter interaction [Shammah17].

Due to the universality of the mathematical language in which quantum mechanics speaks, this tool can also describe spins in solid state materials and more generally, qubits engineered on a broad variety of platforms, from lattices of atoms to defects in diamond [Bradac17,Angerer18,Rainò18]. The use of permutational invariance has been crucial for the exponential reduction of the system space. The PIQS library joins other numerical investigations and libraries leveraging on symmetries in Lie algebras in tensor spaces [Kirton17,Gegg17].

By integrating the PIQS library into QuTiP, the quantum optics software in Python first released in 2011, this purpose-specific tool is now accessible to a wide community of users already familiar with this other well-established open-source software. This agility is another example of the modularity not only of the Python ecosystem, but of modular libraries themselves.

QuTiP itself is the example of a flexible library, which is used by theorists to test ideas or explore new physics, but also by experimentalists, who might want to analyze data or obtain predictions for how to tune the knobs of their experiments, including those involving the first error-prone quantum computers.

The future of quantum open source

 Open-source libraries like PIQS and QuTiP and the community of developers-researchers seem a key drive to the development of quantum technologies, as they offer the opportunity for creative interactions and novel solutions, as well as the capability to tinker with open problems.

Training more theoretical physicists and experimentalists on how to code collaboratively and develop open-source tools is another important aspect to train the next generation of future quantum programmers. At the same time, making this process easy and efficient, so that it can complement fundamental research, is paramount.

Involving the wider open-source community to use the knowledge and skills of expert software developers can also help to develop better simulation techniques or tools, for example for running simulations on GPUs or clusters. The two communities can learn from each other: one can help to adopt the best software development techniques and the other can demystify quantum quirkiness to facilitate the search for new and creative applications.

Finally, we look forward toward the development of institutional avenues to open-source quantum computing. Currently, only private ventures offer researchers cloud access to quantum machines [Zeng17], due to the costs of hardware development and software engineering infrastructure. As the community and tools of open-source software develop, we can envision in the future of quantum computing — and broader quantum technology research — also a network of scientific and institutional laboratories providing cloud access to experiments. This would contribute to reshape and possibly accelerate the rate of discovery in basic quantum physics research.

References

[Fingerhuth18] Mark Fingerhuth, Tomáš Babej, and Peter Wittek, Open source software in quantum computing, PLoS ONE 13 (12): e0208561 (2018).

[Zeng17] Will Zeng, et al. “First quantum computers need smart software.” Nature News 549.7671 (2017): 149.

[Johansson12] J. R. Johansson, P. D. Nation, and F. Nori: “QuTiP 2: A Python framework for the dynamics of open quantum systems.”, Comp. Phys. Comm. 184, 1234 (2013); J. R. Johansson, P. D. Nation, and F. Nori: “QuTiP: An open-source Python framework for the dynamics of open quantum systems.”, Comp. Phys. Comm. 183, 1760–1772 (2012)

[Fortunato18] Fortunato, S., Bergstrom, C. T., Börner, K., Evans, J. A., Helbing, D., Milojević, S., … and Vespignani, A. Science of science. Science, 359, 6379, eaao0185 (2018).

[Melnikov18] Alexey A. Melnikov, Hendrik Poulsen Nautrup, Mario Krenn, Vedran Dunjko, Markus Tiersch, Anton Zeilinger, and Hans J. Briegel, Active learning machine learns to create new quantum experiments, PNAS 115 (6) 1221 (2018)

[Gabbard18] Hunter Gabbard, Michael Williams, Fergus Hayes, and Chris Messenger, Matching Matched Filtering with Deep Networks for Gravitational-Wave Astronomy. Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 141103 (2018)

[Shammah18] Shammah, N., Ahmed, S., Lambert, N., De Liberato, S., and Nori, F, Open quantum systems with local and collective incoherent processes: Efficient numerical simulation using permutational invariance. Phys. Rev. A 98, 063815 (2018)

[Baumann10] Kristian Baumann, Christine Guerlin, Ferdinand Brennecke and Tilman Esslinger, The Dicke Quantum Phase Transition with a Superfluid Gas in an Optical Cavity. Nature 464, 1301 (2010)

[Bohnet12] Justin G. Bohnet, Zilong Chen, Joshua M. Weiner, Dominic Meiser, Murray J. Holland and James K. Thompson, A steady-state superradiant laser with less than one intracavity photonNature 484, 78 (2012)

[Shammah17] Nathan Shammah, Neill Lambert, Franco Nori and Simone De Liberato, Superradiance with local phase-breaking effects. Phys. Rev. A 96, 023863 (2017)

[Bradac17] Carlo Bradac et al, Room-temperature spontaneous superradiance from single diamond nanocrystals. Nat. Commun. 8 1205 (2017).

[Angerer18] Andreas Angerer et al. Superradiant emission from colour centres in diamond. Nature Physics 14, 1168–1172 (2018)

[Rainò18] Gabriele Rainò, Michael A. Becker, Maryna I. Bodnarchuk, Rainer F. Mahrt, Maksym V. Kovalenko and Thilo Stöferle, Superfluorescence from lead halide perovskite quantum dot superlattices. Nature 563, 671 (2018)

 [Kirton17] Peter Kirton, and Jonathan Keeling, Suppressing and restoring the Dicke superradiance transition by dephasing and decay. Physical review letters 118, 123602 (2017).

[Gegg17] Michael, Gegg, and Marten Richter, PsiQuaSP–A library for efficient computation of symmetric open quantum systems. Scientific Reports 7, 16304 (2017).

 

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #6

Time now to announce the Nature India photo contest 2018 finalist number six:

Devinder Toor, Assistant Professor, Amity Institute of Virology and Immunology, Amity University, Uttar Pradesh, India

Photo Caption: Exposed

Devinder Toor

Devinder Toor took this image of a sick man in need of immediate medical attention to highlight the neglect that many patients affected with vector-borne diseases face. He explains this image he shot in the summer of 2016, thus: 

Devinder Toor

Poverty, lack of hygiene, high temperature and humidity force a large number of people in India to sleep in open, unhygienic and dangerous places, exposing them to vector-borne diseases. Also, apathy of civic agencies in maintaining cleanliness further aggravates the spread of these diseases.

I clicked this picture while roaming around in India’s eastern metropolis of Kolkata. I saw this sick man waiting for attention on the railway tracks as people went about their usual business. From the flyover across the tracks, where I was was standing, it presented a grim picture of poverty, neglect and mortality due to vector-borne diseases. 

Congratulations on getting into top 10, Devinder!

The Nature India editorial and design teams will shortlist the top three from the ten stunning images we are rolling out now in no particular order of merit. Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.

The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 will receive a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #5

And here is the Nature India photo contest 2018 finalist number five:

Aditya Kanwal, PhD student, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, Punjab

Photo caption: The pretty side of mosquitoes

Aditya Kanwal

Not all mosquitoes are evil. There’s another side to their story. Aditya Kanwal draws our attention to the wondrous side of these much-maligned vectors through this picture he shot in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, India in the summer of 2018:

Aditya Kanwal

Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals on Earth. They kill more humans than any other organism does. They can transmit parasites such as worms, fly larva, protozoa and viruses without getting affected themselves and cause deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, filariasis, encephalitis, Ross River fever and Zika.

However, of around 3500 mosquito species, only a few are disease carriers. And only the females bite humans. Most mosquitoes don’t bother humans, and actually play a very important role in our ecosystem. Mosquito adults as well as larvae are important source of food for birds, amphibians and fishes. This means, eradicating them completely may drastically impact the food chain.

Mosquitoes are also essential pollinators for many plant species and provide nutrition to some of them such as the pitcher plants. Therefore, complete removal of mosquitoes may also have detrimental effects on several plant species. Some people argue that it won’t be long before other species occupy the niche. But it takes millions of years for organisms to co-evolve. So in case mosquitoes go extinct, it may take some more sacrifices and a long time for the ecosystem to stabilise.

What the world needs is smarter, targeted strategies to control only the disease-causing species of mosquitoes. Initial trials with genetically modified male mosquitoes, that are unable to carry a vector or produce lethal offspring when they mate, are showing promise. With all the funding that’s going into mosquito research, we may soon have a sane solution to tackle our biggest enemy with minimum collateral damage.

Congratulations Aditya for making it to top ten with a unique perspective to the mosquito story!

The Nature India editorial and design teams will shortlist the top three from the ten stunning images we are rolling out now in no particular order of merit. Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.

The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 will receive a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.