March / April 2004


Stuck in the middleware

It seems to be my lot in this slot to parade my ignorance of hot topics. My excuse is that the need to understand a new issue is a great incentive to venture out on to the web. Which is why I have been trying to pin down just what 'middleware' is all about. We first have to think about grid computing, which connects computers so that they can work together and operate as a distributed supercomputer. The computers in this grid can be anything that can contribute to the processing task to hand.


From correcting errors to building quantum computers

It has been well known for some time that the feature-size of silicon chips will soon get to the stage where quantum mechanical effects will start to show. One solution that has been offered to the problem of continuing to increase the power of computation is to use quantum effects themselves to create a new paradigm of computing - quantum computing. It was always thought that a classical computer could efficiently simulate any computer architecture that could be imagined, but quantum computers seem to have broken this rule.


Stake your life on a LIMS

In January, the President of the Royal Society, Lord May, opened Britain's largest automated pathology laboratory, in Whitfield St, West London. But this was no ordinary laboratory run by a National Health Service (NHS) Trust. It was instead a partnership between one NHS Trust (University College London Hospitals, UCLH) and the leading private-sector provider of pathology services in the UK, 'The Doctors Laboratory'. It is evidence of substantial changes in NHS pathology services - and the LIMS systems that support them.