Prison island to tropical paradise

first_imgFrom Ibo Island you can sail by dhow to have lunch on an offshore sandbar. The ramparts of Ibo Island’s Fort of São João Batista, which variously served as a Portuguese military bastion, a slave house and a prison. Inside the fort, a silversmith continues the island’s long tradition of intricate craftwork. Ibo is one of those places that constantly feels like it’s falling down – as if its buildings are crumbling into the sand and the sea. (Images: Chris Thurman) MEDIA CONTACTS • Ibo Island Lodge +27 21 702 0285 [email protected] RELATED ARTICLES • A holiday – in Zimbabwe? • The adventure starts here • Wandering the Whale Trail• Scuba-diving South AfricaChris ThurmanThe old fort is full of intriguing sense data. Walking past one doorway, you hear the clang of metal beating metal and the murmur of voices; through another, you catch a glimpse of a man bringing a fire to life with the bellows of his lungs. The smoke mixes with the salty-stale smell of the ocean blowing in over the ramparts.Outside, the sun that has flaked the paint on the walls beats down on your skin, and you seek shade under the canopy of the lone tree in the whitewashed courtyard.Nowadays the Fort of São João Batista, or St John the Baptist, on the shore of Ibo Island off the coast of northern Mozambique is a pleasant place, occupied by a cohort of silversmiths producing finely-wrought jewellery. But for most of its more than 200-year history, the fort was a site of violence and oppression: the clanging sounds would have come from shackles and iron bars, the smoke would have risen from guns and canons, the voices would have been screams and moans.The fort was built by the Portuguese in 1791 as a military bastion to ward off the Dutch, from whom they had wrested control of the Mozambican trade routes, after ousting Arab traders from the region some two centuries before that. It subsequently served as a slave house and then a prison in which many of those who opposed colonial rule were detained and tortured.Its star-shaped, pentagonal building is the most recognisable structure on Ibo. It is the island’s most potent symbol, with its changing fortunes mirroring the shifting historical tides shaping life on the island.Ibo is part of the Quirimbas archipelago, some 27 islands that form part of Mozambique’s Quirimbas National Park. While a strategically significant location for Portugal’s imperial ambitions, the archipelago remained isolated and developed its own particular cultural flavour.As with the rest of Mozambique, Portuguese is a lingua franca, but locals greet each other with “Salama”, a linguistic reminder that there was an Arab settlement on Ibo in the 12th century. Arab and Chinese trading posts were established along the coastline of the mainland as early as 600 AD.Ibo is one of those places that constantly feels like it’s falling down – as if its buildings are crumbling into the sand and the sea. Nowhere is this more evident than in the ghostly streets of what used to be the island’s wealthy areas, which are lined with the hollow shells of houses that were abandoned overnight when the post-independence government effectively expelled all “foreigners” in 1975.This lends the island an evocative charm, but, of course, such slow degeneration is only romantic to temporary sojourners and holidaymakers. For those who live on Ibo, the lack of socioeconomic opportunity is a serious problem.Yet the island’s great appeal to adventurous travellers is also its salvation. The Quirimbas are an exquisitely beautiful natural formation: warm azure seas, dazzling coral reefs, abundant sea life – a tropical paradise. Some of the islands are uninhabited or privately owned. Not so on Ibo, where the permanent population numbers some 4 000 – and the jobs available are limited.For this reason, the silversmiths’ combined workshop and showroom at the fort is a welcome intervention. While the artisan-artists there are simply continuing an ancient Ibo tradition of producing fine metalwork, the growth of jewellery production and the employment it provides is largely the work Fiona and Kevin Record, the owners of Ibo Island Lodge.When they first sailed into the harbour at Ibo some 15 years ago, the Records did not plan to stay for long. But the magic of the place soon captured them, and they decided to settle on Ibo and open the lodge.This was a huge logistical challenge, but the beautifully understated coral-and-limestone lodge buildings Fiona and Kevin renovated are testimony to their determination. Since then, they’ve profited from bringing visitors to the island, but have also worked to create jobs for the people of Ibo.“Part of Ibo’s charm was that it had fallen into decline, and harboured a history, culture and marine world totally unexplored,” says Fiona. “The area’s pristine beauty and the hospitality of the local people had a profound effect on us. We made a commitment to create a tourism project that would positively affect the lives of the impoverished community on Ibo.”The silversmith venture is just one of the Records’ initiatives. In addition to employing 40 staff, each of whom supports an estimated 20 other people, the lodge is the centre of numerous community schemes providing both income and development opportunities. There is a Montessori school for the island’s children, as well as an adult education facility that teaches English and tourism awareness, as well as training in conservation, gardening and guiding.Creating jobs also helps protect the local environment. The more jobs there are that don’t depend on fishing, the better for the increasingly overtaxed marine life of this World Heritage Site.Along with a host of impossibly-coloured fish, underwater life in the Quirimbas includes a variety of turtles, sharks and rays. They, like the birds overhead that are an equally vital part of the ecosystem (there are 10 red-listed species in the Ibo area), are threatened by the sheer numbers of people whose livelihood is fishing.Given all of this, Ibo Island Lodge offers guests something that most accommodation establishments cannot.Yes, there are the bright and richly-furnished rooms, and the veranda view between palms and bougainvillea blossoms out to sea. Activities include kayaking through mangroves, snorkelling and dhow sailing, while low tide brings an opportunity to have lunch on a sandbar surrounded by nothing but crystal blue ocean. And each day ends with sundowners on the roof, listening to the deep beat of humpback whales striking their tail-fins against the surface of the water.As gratifying as any of these, though, is the sense that a visit to Ibo is not a one-sided affair in which only the tourist benefits. As much as 50% of the island’s population is positively affected by the presence of Ibo Island Lodge. Now that’s responsible tourism.last_img read more

Atomtronic transistor and diode could advance quantum computing

first_img Can alkaline earth metals be used in quantum computing? (PhysOrg.com) — What if atoms could be used to perform the functions currently the province of electronic devices? The goal of atomtronics is to do just that by creating analogues to the common items found in electronic devices. Ron Pepino, a graduate student at JILA and the University of Colorado, believes that he and his colleagues have found a way to create the atomtronic versions of diode and transistor circuits. The work of Pepino, Cooper, Anderson and Holland is described in Physical Review Letters: “Atomtronic Circuits of Diodes and Transistors.” Citation: Atomtronic transistor and diode could advance quantum computing (2009, October 9) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-10-atomtronic-transistor-diode-advance-quantum.html “In our work, we create a one-to-one analogy between conventional electronic circuits and atoms trapped in optical lattices,” Pepino tells PhysOrg.com. “In this analogy, the current carriers — the electrons — are replaced with neutral, ultracold atoms, the semiconductor material that the electrons traverse is replaced with an optical lattice, and the electric potential difference — which induces the flow of electrons around the circuit — is replaced by a chemical potential difference”“The dynamics of atoms in optical lattices, which are basically crystals of light, have been studied both theoretically and experimentally for many years now. We add to this field by theoretically demonstrating that the electronic properties of the diode and transistor can be observed in specifically tailored optical lattices,” Pepino continues.The team at JILA believes that it is possible to emulate the behavior of a semiconductor diode in these atomic systems. “We have predicted that you can take the optical lattice, manipulate its experimentally-tunable parameters in a specific way, and recover diode-like phenomena,” Pepino explains, “Our simulations show that this augmented optical lattice will allow atoms to flow across it from left to right, for example, but forbids the atoms to traverse the lattice going the other way. We have modeled this, and we think it might work.”Pepino and his peers have also modeled an atomtronic transistor. “All modern electronics contain transistors; they are the fundamental building blocks of electronics and computers. Naturally, we want an atomtronic version.” The transistor designed by Pepino and his colleagues exhibits on/off switching behavior, and acts as an amplifier. By configuring the optical lattice in a manner discussed in their article, they show that it is possible to recover the characteristics of the conventional electronic transistor in the atomic world. He points out that atomtronics probably won’t replace electronics. “Atoms are sluggish compared to electrons, and that means that you probably won’t see atomtronics replace current electronic devices. What atomtronics might be useful for is the field of quantum information.” Because electrons lose any possible initial quantum state as they bounce around through the energy dissipating semiconductor or metallic systems, they are ill-equipped for quantum computing. “In quantum computing, you store a quantum state on an object, perform operations on the object and then read out the final state. If the system is not coherent, the initial stored information is lost,” Pepino points out. “Atoms trapped in optical lattices have been considered extensively for specific quantum computing schemes due to their inherent energy conserving characteristics. The dynamics of our atomtronic devices would be coherent and potentially useful in quantum computing.” He also suggests that there is the possibility that atomtronics could be useful in obtaining sensitive measurements. At the very least, he concludes, “atomtronic systems provide a nice test of fundamental concepts in condensed matter physics.”While these ideas have been modeled, they have yet to be built. Pepino says that an effort is under way to set up experiments that could provide a proof of principle for the work being done at JILA and the University of Colorado by experimental collaborator and co-author Dana Anderson.More information: Pepino, et. al. “Atomtronic Circuits of Diodes and Transistors,” Physical Review Letters (2009). Available online: https://sp2.img.hsyaolu.com.cn/wp-shlf1314/2020/IMG3010.jpg” alt=”last_img” /> read more