Quantum Computing 101
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Quantum Computing 101


Scientists at Microsoft and their partners
around the world have spent the last decade exploring the exciting and utterly bizarre
place where computer science and quantum physics collide.
So where’s that, exactly? Think about quantum computing like a subway
map with two train lines–the Quantum Physics Local and the Computer Science Express–coming
from different directions to meet at a central hub: Station Q.
On the map, the two lines meet and continue forward together, though no one knows exactly where they’re headed. Thanks to brilliant minds from Newton to Einstein,
we have a pretty solid understanding of matter, motion, time, space, and how the universe
generally functions. But over the last hundred or so years, scientists looking closely at
life on an atomic and sub-atomic level started noticing some inconsistencies with traditional
physics. Questions and theories started piling up about how and why particles seem to behave
predictably on a large scale (like plants and birds and rocks and things), but on a
nanoscale it’s, well, particles gone wild. It turns out that behaviors that seem impossible
to imagine on a human scale are downright pedestrian at a molecular level. Down there,
particles – little balls of solid matter – act like waves. Particles teleport from one place
to another, and can also become “entangled,” making it impossible to separate them.
In a quantum state, particles can even achieve something we call superposition, where they
exist in multiple states simultaneously. You’ve ridden this line many times before.
You know that the laptop on your desk, the smartphone in your hand, and the tablet in
your bag all work with information in the form of bits. Bits, which can be either a
1 or a 0, are arranged in long, artful strings to get computers to do all sorts of things,
like sequence DNA or fling angry little birds at pig-built fortresses.
But classical computers have limits to their problem-solving prowess. There are some problems
so difficult that even if all the computers in the world worked on the problem in tandem
it would still take them a very long time to solve it.
So here’s where things REALLY get interesting and where quantum computing could come in
handy. Quantum computers run on quantum bits, or qubits. Because of the mind-bending properties
of a quantum state, like superposition, a qubit can be a 1 or a 0 – or it can exist
as a 1 and a 0 at the same time. If one qubit, as a 1 and a 0, can do two calculations, then
two qubits can do four, four can do eight, and the computing power has the potential
to grow exponentially. With long strings of qubits performing computations,
problems that would take today’s computers eons to solve could be tackled in the time
it takes to grab a cup of coffee. This could have wildest imagination-type applications
in fields such as machine learning and medicine, chemistry and cryptography, materials science
and engineering. And could allow humans to understand and control the very building blocks
of the universe.

31 Comments

  • J. Cottner

    I enjoy learning about the mysterious quantum world so much, that I was inspired to write a fiction novel called Quantum Bob:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MA5I4OT
    Feel free to check it out!

  • Sergii Semenov

    what the hell did I just watch..? it's something in between a fairy tale for kids and a random GEICO commercial. I can't imagine what the target audience for this video should be.

  • Marcelo Biscola

    According to my studies, by having control of the mutation of matter in its various temperatures we can better get the organic movements of the particles, with that the multiple calculations will be more precise, the transfer of energy is done automatically.

  • ameunier41

    Wow that's one of the worst scientific video I've ever seen. (maybe the worse)
    It look like you asked a kindergarten to do it. There isn't anyone who really understand quantum computing working at Microsoft?
    And what's this intro? "A sandwich is form when the bread train and the ham train collide at the station restaurant?" I mean, you can literally use that intro for anything.

  • Cestarian Inhabitant

    Well, how much information is it going to cost me to be allowed to use one of these computers?

    Oh every single thing there is to know about me down to the finest detail? Sounds fair enough, I don't know why Microsoft cares so much about the size of my dick and whether I like to finger my butthole or not, but it creeps me the fuck out that they do want to know. (So much that I'd never set foot within a mile of a Microsoft developed quantum computer if I can help it!)

  • DiScOrDaNt

    Or you could, you know, use superconductive wiring, which would be actually useful and practical, and cheaper. And we really don't have any problems that need quantum computing. As superconductivity would do us fine for a few centuries. It's a nice thought though, 😐.

  • Elis Carling

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  • Linda Bronstein

    As suggested, even today's fastest supercomputers, which crunch trillions of operations per second, carry out only one operation at a single moment in time. Some interesting works out there take the possibilities of quantum computer processing to their logical conclusions. For example, β€œEvolution of Simulated Universes” discusses the possibility of running computer simulated universes. A series of computer simulated universes could exist that would run yet more computer simulated universes. Basically, this could explain a type of β€˜natural selection’ of physical properties from universe to universe.

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