Artificial intelligence in medical physics, quantum computing in silicon and a return to physics in film


This week’s episode focuses on the interface between physics and computing, with deep dives into how artificial intelligence (AI) is contributing to medical physics and how silicon could form the basis of a future quantum computer.

First, we hear from Tami Freeman, Physics World’s resident expert on medical physics, about a new positron emission tomography (PET) scanner that can image a patient’s whole body much more quickly (or at higher resolutions) than is possible with current commercial scanners. We then stick with the medical theme to discuss three recent examples of how AI is being used in medicine: firstly to diagnose skin conditions (but, disturbingly, only if the patient’s skin is white); secondly to help radiologists detect lung tumours in X-rays; and thirdly to develop better radiotherapy treatment plans.

The second part of our podcast switches from classical computing to the quantum world. There are several ways of constructing the qubits, or quantum bits, that make up a quantum computer, and this week we hear from a trio of researchers – Fernando Gonzalez-Zalba, Alessandro Rossi and Tsung-Yeh Yang – who have been developing silicon-based qubits. Their work is part of a Europe-wide collaboration between universities, government laboratories and companies called MOS-Quito, and you can read more about it in their article for the Physics World Focus on Computing.

And finally, if you’ve been dying to hear the answers to last week’s parlour game, be sure to listen to the end of the podcast and groan along with our editors at some truly terrible amazing physics-in-film wordplay.

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