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A quantum drama has a sad ending

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Three years ago, Microsoft excitedly announced that it had jumped into the quantum computing realm with the discovery of an elusive particle that the company said it could harness to build a quantum computer.

Called a Majorana fermion, the particle would be used — in theory, anyway — as individual computational units (called qubits) in quantum computers. It was big news for Microsoft, which was looking to catch up with IBM and Google, who had each already built prototypes.

Sadly for Microsoft, the discovery didn’t pan out. In February of this year, the lead physicist and 21 co-authors of a paper announcing the particle’s discovery published a new article retracting the original findings.

It turns out that the original paper excluded some data, confounding some fellow physicists who wondered whether the oversight was intentional or a confirmation bias-induced oversight.
Either way, it was sad news for Microsoft.



Quantum frontier
Compared to quantum computing, what you do on a regular computer is like a caveman pounding on a rock. Quantum computing massively increases the capabilities of storing and manipulating information. It would supercharge processing and computational speed.

Classic computers currently manipulate individual bits, which are 0 and 1 (no and yes or off and on). In quantum computers, there are no bits. There are qubits, and they can exist as both 0 and 1 at the same time. The traditional laws of physics actually do not apply in the quantum world.

Google’s quantum computer boasts 53 qubits that can store 253 values, or more than 10,000,000,000,000,000 (10 quadrillion) combinations. IBM supposedly is working on 1,000 qubit quantum computers.

The technology is expected to lead to unimaginable improvements in everything from chemistry and emissions to diagnosing illness.

The power of quantum computing
How powerful is this? In 2019, Google’s infant quantum computer solved a problem considered impossible (as a practical matter) for regular machines. According to LiveScience, it completed the complex computation in 200 seconds, while the most powerful supercomputers would have needed approximately 10,000 years. That is a brisk 1.5 trillion times faster.

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National Safe Boating Week: Engine cut-off switches now required

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A new law aims at preventing severe injuries and death from runaway vessels on recreational waterways.

Every year, the Coat Guard responds to cases where boat operators are thrown from boats, but the engines keep running. Operators and passengers end up in the water while the boat continues its course, or starts to move in a circle. In the water, people can be mowed down by the boat or suffer serious propeller injuries. Runaway boats pose a serious danger to other boaters and first responders.

The U.S. Coast Guard announced in March that all recreational vessels less than 26 feet in length will be required to use an engine cut-off switch.

An engine cut-off switch is a device that cuts the engine if the operator moves from the helm or the outboard — typically a lanyard clipped around the operator connects to the switch, which turns the engine off when tension is put on the lanyard.


Some wireless devices are also now available.

Not all small boating activities will be required to have the switches. Low-speed activities, such as fishing or docking, don’t require the use of a cut-off switch. But every boat under 26 feet long with an engine of three horsepower or more should have a cut-off switch. The switch doesn’t have to be used when fishing, docking or trailering.

Coast Guard rules apply only to federally navigable waterways. However, seven states have their own cut-off switch laws. The states are Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, and Texas. According to Boat US, most states will adjust their regulations to match federal law in coming years.

The consequence for violating this law is a $100 civil penalty for the first offense.

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How to talk to your kids about the police

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The purpose of National Police Week, which takes place from May 9 to 15, is to commemorate the service of police officers, especially those who died in the line of duty. Given the media coverage around police brutality, however, you might be wondering how to talk to your children about law enforcement. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Start with self-reflection
The way you approach a conversation about policing with your kids will depend on your own feelings and experiences. Take time to assess where you’re coming from before you sit down with your children.

2. Find out what they already know
Ask your children what the word “police” means to them and what they think a police officer’s job is. Their answers can help guide your discussion, as they’ll let you know what ideas or misunderstandings your kids have about law enforcement.

3. Acknowledge their feelings
Remember that simply listening to your children is an important part of any conversation with them. If your kids express feelings of anger, fear, or confusion when talking about the police, be sure to validate their emotions before trying to ease their concerns.



4. Be honest and offer reassurance
While you shouldn’t avoid acknowledging that some police officers behave badly, let your children know that most work hard to do the right thing and that lots of people are pushing for change to make sure the police treat everyone fairly.

In honor of National Police Week, take the time as a family to thank the police officers in your community for their continued service. This will give your children an opportunity to get to know some men and women behind the uniform.

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Pregnancy and maternity quiz: test your knowledge

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This Mother’s Day, test your knowledge about pregnancy and motherhood with this quick and easy quiz.

True or false

1. A baby’s sex is determined as soon the egg is fertilized.
2. Smoking increases the risk of having a miscarriage.
3. The chance of having identical twins is greater if there are already twins in the family.
4. The fetus’s heartbeats at the same rate as the mother’s.
5. Breastfeeding helps prevent breast cancer.

Multiple choice


6. Which of these sports should be avoided during pregnancy?

a) Horseback riding and scuba diving
b) Judo and mountaineering
c) Tennis and hot yoga
d) All the above

7. What hormone causes the uterus to contract during childbirth?

a) Estrogen
b) Progesterone
c) Oxytocin
d) Chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)

8. At how many weeks is a baby considered full term?
a) 33
b) 35
c) 37
d) 39

Fill in the blank

9. It’s recommended that pregnant women and women who are trying to conceive take __________ as a supplement to prevent deformities such as spina bifida.
10. __________ is the medical term for a woman in labor.
11. The __________ allows air and food to be exchanged between the mother and fetus.
12. The __________ connects the mother to the child during pregnancy.

How did you do?

Answers:
1. True
2. True
3. False (this is only true for fraternal twins)
4. False (it beats about twice as fast)
5. True
6. d)
7. c)
8. c)
9. Folic acid
10. Parturient
11. Placenta
12. Umbilical cord

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Need inspires solutions: The invention and re-invention of the odometer

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Whether plotting a road trip or training for a triathlon, we need our odometers. But did you ever wonder how they were invented?

The odometer was actually invented and reinvented a number of times. From ancient Greeks to a Mormon pioneer, our mileage-tracking device has received quite a bit of attention.

The National Parks Service credits a Roman architect and engineer named Vitruvius with the first design. Vitruvius built a contraption that looked a bit like a wheelbarrow, which automatically dropped a pebble into a container at each revolution of the wheel, measuring the distance traveled.

Two other iterations showed up in the coming centuries, plus a third designed for ships. Then Benjamin Franklin created a version in 1775 to track his mileage as postmaster between Philadelphia and Boston. It is unclear whether Franklin then asked for mileage reimbursement.


William Clayton is credited with creating a detailed guide for Mormon travelers crossing the plains from Winter Quarters, Neb. to Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to noting camping locations, terrain, and the availability of water, grass, and timber, Clayton recorded the mileage thanks to the “roadometer” he invented.

In a prime example of need inspiring invention, Clayton created the device in 1847 after realizing early on that he needed a more accurate way to measure the distance. He measured the left rear wheel of one of the wagons to determine its circumference and calculate how many rotations equaled a mile.

Clayton then tied a marker on the spoke and walked beside it, counting the rotations —what must have been a painstaking process, as he notched 4,070 rotations for 11 and quarter miles plus 20 revolutions the first day.

The first roadometer could count to 100 and be quickly replaced by another that could count to 1,000, making the job much more efficient.

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How to support nurses on the front line of the pandemic

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May is Nurses Month, an annual event that sets out to honor the contributions of America’s nurses. These essential workers are invaluable members of their communities, offering help to patients and their families, and playing a key role in delivering healthcare services. That’s why this year’s theme is Nurses Make a Difference.

In light of the pandemic, supporting nurses is more important than ever. Over the last year, these workers have risked their own safety to help those who need care. Here are some ways you can offer your encouragement.

1. Give them a shoutout
Publicly give your thanks to nurses on social media using the hashtag #Support-HealthcareHeroes. Recognition can go a long way in making the nurses you know feel valued.

2. Offer them a meal
Order takeout for the nurses you know, and see if you can have it delivered to the hospital or clinic where they work.


3. Help with childcare
If you know a nurse who has children, consider offering to lend a hand while they’re at work or when they need a break.

4. Drop off groceries
It can be hard for nurses to find time to pick up the essentials. Reach out to a nurse you know, and see if you can help by bringing them the supplies they need.

5. Make a donation
There are numerous campaigns dedicated to raising funds for nurses. Consider making a donation to the American Nurses Foundation, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses or a local nursing school.

Nurses working on the front line of the pandemic deserve to be reminded that they’re valued. This year for Nurses Month, consider reaching out and showing your appreciation.

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3 special ways to celebrate Mother’s Day

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Do you want to pull out all the stops for Mother’s Day this year? Whether your mom lives nearby or far away, here are a few ways to celebrate the occasion.

Theme party
Host an event your mom will never forget by choosing a theme. You could make the celebration a beach party, a Victorian ball, a Mexican fiesta, a casino night soirée, or a Great Gatsby-style bash. Consider your mom’s tastes and get creative. Think about the decorations, costumes, music, and other details so everyone can truly immerse themselves in the chosen universe.

Fun activity
Celebrate your mom by doing something together that you know she enjoys. It could be a walk in the forest, a visit to a museum, a day at the spa, a hot air balloon ride, or a wine tasting at a local vineyard. If Mom preferred to stay home, consider playing board games or having a movie marathon with all of her favorite snacks. Give her a unique experience, and she’s sure to be pleased by your thoughtfulness.

Video call
If you can’t get together with your mom in person, organize a video call that shows her how much you care. You could read her a letter or poem you wrote for the occasion, share a festive meal together despite the distance or play an assortment of games to brighten up her day.


So, what kind of celebration will you put together for Mother’s Day?

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

May
9
Sun
2:00 pm Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
May 9 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mother's Day Weekend Paint Party - Daisies @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Bring Mom to The Studio for our Mother’s Day Weekend Special. Buy two tickets and save! This will be a lovely piece to add to your collections… and so much fun to paint. Join us[...]
May
13
Thu
6:30 pm Law Enforcement Officers Memoria... @ Front Royal Gazebo
Law Enforcement Officers Memoria... @ Front Royal Gazebo
May 13 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service @ Front Royal Gazebo
Please join Warren County/Front Royal Back the Blue, in partnership with the Fraternal Order of Police and Front Royal/Warren County Lodge #33, during National Police Week as we honor our local Law Enforcement Officers who[...]
May
14
Fri
12:00 pm Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
May 14 @ 12:00 pm
Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Join us for the 2021 Millionaire Maker held at award-winning Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club. The Millionaire Maker is a combined golfing and networking experience! Serious, amateur, and novice golfers are welcome. *Four golfers who[...]
May
15
Sat
7:30 am Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf ... @ Bowling Green Country Club South
Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf ... @ Bowling Green Country Club South
May 15 @ 7:30 am – 3:00 pm
Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf Tournament @ Bowling Green Country Club South
Please join us for the Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for the Linden Volunteer Fire Department. The event will be held Saturday, May 15, 2021, at Bowling Green Country Club South (768 Bowling[...]
10:00 am Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
May 15 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
Bring the family and enjoy a fun day learning about the history of the French & Indian War era at the site of Colonel George Washington’s headquarters for the Virginia Regiment. Meet living history interpreters[...]
11:00 am National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 15 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Children’s Discovery Area: This National Kids to Parks Day, join us for fun-filled activities and music at our interactive discovery stations. Kids, pick up a scavenger hunt brochure and hike on the Track Trail. Just[...]
May
16
Sun
9:00 am Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
May 16 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Psychic Fair for both those who are serious and for those who are just curious. Event can be a life changing experience or just a fun time! Many of the best psychics, mediums, healers, and[...]
1:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 16 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects of beekeeping from hive construction to[...]
May
19
Wed
12:00 pm Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
May 19 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
Many business owners struggled with the consequences of COVID-19 in 2020. Now, more than a year later, many of those same business owners have turned chaos into creativity finding new opportunities for growth. The Fauquier[...]
May
22
Sat
10:00 am Backcountry Basics: Earth Connec... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Backcountry Basics: Earth Connec... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Backcountry Basics: Earth Connection Series @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the Carriage Barn in Historic Area. Connect with the park’s landscape and get a taste of the skills you need to thrive in the backcountry. Participants will join experienced outdoor skills instructor Tim[...]