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Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Information Pioneer Dies
30 April 1999 6:00 pm
Theoretical physicist Rolf Landauer, the German-born pioneer of the physics of information processing and computing devices, died Tuesday night at his home in Westchester County, New York, after a short illness. He was 72.
Landauer, who spent more than 40 years at IBM research labs, is perhaps best known for his theories about the physical limits of information processing, such as the minimum energy required to perform a computation. In the early 1960s, he refuted the prevailing thinking of the day--that every step in a computer's binary calculation consumes a minimum amount of energy--and replaced it with a principle now bearing his name. The Landauer principle holds that what consumes energy is not processing the information but erasing old values to make room for new ones. Disregarded for years, his ideas are now at the forefront of many experimental computing technologies. Landauer "was the prime mover" in bringing the physics of computing into the limelight, says IBM colleague Charles Bennett, an expert on quantum computing.
Landauer also left his mark on the study of electron transport in small spaces. The Landauer formulation, for instance, describes the movement of electrons in nanometer-scale conductors, which are essential to the development of nanoelectronics.
Although Landauer's musings always wandered on the verge of the feasible--and often trespassed that line--he had a sharp eye for practicality. Pessimistic about quantum computing, a field that, in large part, grew out of his theories, Landauer suggested that disclaimers be added to papers, saying, "Warning: Quantum computers are unlikely to work in the real world."