When will the world see a useful quantum computer system? That’s arguably the most interesting question in technology. A rash of recent breakthroughs has many experts convinced the quantum computer is imminent, while others remain skeptical they’ll ever arrive.
The truth is, nobody knows because quantum physics doesn’t lend itself to research in the traditional sense. Breakthroughs in the field slow research down just as often as they speed things up, which seems counter-intuitive, but as we’ve said: it’s a weird and wacky area of science.
Check out our explainer on quantum computers here if you’re not sure whether qubits are the quantum version of a classical bit or the main character in a classic Atari video game.
In order to explain the most recent breakthroughs in quantum computing we’ll have to go back about 17 years. The 2001 Nobel prize for physics was awarded to a trio of quantum physicists for successfully demonstrating a Bose-Einstein condensate – the fifth state of matter after solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.
In order to achieve this elusive state scientists freeze a group of particles to within billionths of a degree of perfect-zero. At this temperature the individual atoms become so slowed that their kinetic energy no longer exceeds their apparent energy. In this state, one of quantum physics’ many wacky events becomes possible: cloud entanglement.
Basically, all the atoms become physically identical and act as one single super-atom. If it helps,…
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