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Spotlight On Quantum Computing

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I like the word quantum. It’s a very future sounding word. Fantasy writer Terry Pratchett likes it too, and uses it in his novels to describe anything that cannot really be described or understood. It’s a word he uses fairly often considering his stories take place on a world that drifts through space balanced on 4 giant elephants standing on a turtle.

Maybe we ought to create an Artificial Intelligence Agent using Quantum Mechanics that will lead us to a whole new dimension of understanding the world we live in and our economy.

Quantum is like a bridge between what is possible and what’s probable. It makes science fiction science fact. It’s here. Well, near here. The issue of quantum computing has been puzzling researchers for roughly 3 decades. Now it’s like we are just a few short years away from buying them from our local tech stores.

And Now For More Quantum Computing

What’s the big deal with quantum computers anyway? Well, they are super-fast and super-efficient, making current PCs look like the monstrous machines that took up an entire room when they were first developed. According to Fred Chong, from the University to California, a quantum computer would be in a position to solve in mere months problems that would take a conventional computer millions of years.

You must admit it makes sense…

The key to their “superness ” is the fact that quantum bits or qubits aren’t bound by the conventions of time and space as we know them. Normal electrons spin either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Quantum electrons spin in both directions at once. This ability to transcend one state of existence means that when they are used in computing, quantum electrons transform conventional “bits ” into qubits. Conventional bits can be either a 1 or a 0. However, qubits can be both at the same time.

Dive Into More Quantum Computing Details..

In quantum mechanical terms, the qubits exist in superposition. This leads to an inherent parallelism, which according to physicist David Deutsch allows quantum computers to work on a million computations at once. Current PCs can work on only one.

One of the most significant benefits of quantum computers, aside from all the other “superness ”, is that they will make silicon based microchips obsolete. This is a positive thing because within about 4 years silicon chips will have evolved themselves out of existence, being too low to be of any practical use.

One of the manner in which they will negate silicon chips, and completely revolutionise the way computers are wired, is thanks to the quantum property of teleportation. Using teleportation, information about one particle will be communicated to another without using any wires at all. In Star Trek terms, information is beamed from one particle to another. The nice thing about quantum is that there will still be enough power to do this. No flailing about in outer space, panicking about another Klingon attack for these babies. You’re always good to go.

Simple quantum computers are already in existence. However, they are nowhere near achieving what they are capable of. In 2007, a Canadian company, D-Wave, created a 16-qubit (the objective is to at least 30 qubits) quantum computer that could solve sudoku puzzles. Other quantum computers can solve the riddle of Schrodinger’s cat (a cat in a hole with poison, is it alive or dead? Until you open the box and have a look, it occupies both states, not unlike quantum electrons and qubits), considered one of the key equations in quantum mechanics.

Desktop PC or cell phone can be adapted for practical quantum computing. Quantum computing exploits the properties of subatomic particles and the legislation of quantum mechanics. Today’s computers have bits in either a 1 or a 0 state. Qubits, however, can be in both states at the same time.

It may not seem like much to the man/woman on the street. However, it’s adequate to get quantum physicists out of their baths and running naked in the street with cries of “Eureka”.

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