Even some professional physicists find it difficult to wrestle with some of the concepts of quantum computing, so it’s not surprising that I do too!
What is it?
While conventional physics looks at the universal laws that govern the universe, quantum physics looks at the strange things that go on at the atomic scale.
For example, one bizarre phenomenon is the law of Quantum Entanglement, where one particle can affect another particles state even if the two entangled particles are at opposite sides of the universe, without apparently any form of communication between the two.
Leading scientists and big corporations are trying to create a computer that uses these laws to do vast and complex calculations. Regular computers use only two states – ‘1’ or ‘0’, to transfer data. However, quantum computing has the potential for there to be millions of different ‘states’, meaning they have the potential to be able to carry out tasks that would take current computers millennia to complete – all in a few seconds. Wow.
Why it matters
This could lead to huge advancements in human and scientific knowledge – and allow vast amounts of data to be meaningfully analysed at exceptional speed. However, it could also lead to the most significant security flaw of modern times because it could make all our current forms of encryption and password protection useless. Quantum computers have the potential to be able to crack complex encryption in seconds, which would make secure communication over our current internet nearly impossible. So the challenge for computer scientists is how to make quantum computing a useful tool, without destroying the modern world wide web infrastructure.
A potential solution may be to use entangled particles. Any attempt to interfere with systems disrupts the entanglement, making it obvious that a message has been tampered with. Quantum encryption is on the way…
Scary or exciting?
The scary and exciting thing is that these computers could exist within the next decade – or two. However, I’m optimistic about human’s resilience to new technological developments, and I’m looking forward to seeing what global dilemmas humanity will be facing in my lifetime…
If you want to read more about this topic or find out where I got some of my information from, check out this article: Scientists make breakthrough in quantum physics’ ‘spookiest’ theory