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Quantum Computers

Arrow Image A new 'state' of mind.

Have you ever run into a slow computer? Sure you have, be it at a library, school, wifi hotspot, or anywhere else I\'m willing to bet you have. Well this may not be an issue for long. New developments have been found to make computers up to 100 times faster, and it\'s possible in the coming decade. This means in 10 years, we may not have to deal with having to wait to download anything, have buffer times, or any of that mess anymore. When this revolution happens, we will be in for a whole new world of speed and security.

Modern computers use bits. A bit has two states. 1 and 0. Modern computers translate each value to either true (1), or false (0). When you have a string of 8 bits, you have what is known as a byte. This is where binary, or base two, comes in. This means that each bit can either be true or false. The problem is, you have two possible states, but can only use one at a time. Now, what if I told you that it is possible to make computers utilize 1, 0, and every point in between simultaneously. This is a quantum superposition. Quantum computers manipulate sets of these \'super bits\', or qubits, in a set of quantum logic gates. A quantum logic gate is a small circuit that runs on a very small amount of qubits, usually one or two. The sequence applied is defined as a quantum algorithm.

Since qubits can be in different states at once, it gives parallelism. This means that while modern computers can only work on one calculation at a time, quantum computers can work on millions simultaneously. If you have a modern computer that has 10 states, then you can have any number to 1024. With a quantum computer, it can be every number from 0 to 1024 at the same time. To give you a better scale, a quantum computer of 30 qubits could equal the power of 10 teraflops (trillions of floating-point operations per second), while modern computers are measured in gigaflops (billions of floating-point operations per second).

However, there are some problems with quantum computing. They use another aspect of quantum mechanics known as entanglement. This means that one or more objects become linked together so that one cannot be adequately described without the other. When you look at a qubit to determine its value, you could bump it and it would change the value to either, 1 or 0, turning your quantum computer into a modern digital computer. To fix this problem scientist must figure out a way to find the value of a qubit without disturbing it. Thats where entanglement comes in. When a qubit is left alone, it will spin in any direction, but in a pair, when one is disturbed, the spin away from each other. This means that they could be measured without actually looking at them.

At this time, we have only made a 16 qubit computer. This means we still have a ways to go before we have a viable computer. Although there have been several key advancements made. In 1998 researchers set a qubit across three nuclear spins, to study entanglement. In 2000 scientist made a 7 qubit computer in a single drop of water. In 2001 scientist made a 7 qubit computer that does Shor\'s algorithm to 15. Shor\'s algorithm finds prime numbers, and the computer correctly deduced that the prime factors were 3 and 5. In 2005 scientist announced the creation of the first qubyte, or series of 8 qubits, using ion traps. In 2006 it was announced that a system was found for quantum controlling a 12 qubit quantum computer. Qubits become exponentially more difficult to control as more are added. In 2007 a Canadian company demonstrated a 16-qubit quantum computer that solves sudoku puzzles, and other pattern problems.

So as of now, quantum computers are still in the future. Even though they would need dozens of qubits to have the functionality we need to be a viable computer, they are coming, and before too long we will have to rethink what and how we do things on the internet, because as soon as quantum computers are available, our current methods of encryption are simple compared to what is possible with this new technology.

If more people know what is to come, we may also have more people who can help invent the future with new thoughts and ideas. Who\'s to say someone may not come up with an even faster computer. Like the developments in DNA computers, fabric computers, and printable computers. Some may become public sooner than others, but who is to say what will and will not work the best in the future. That\'s just another one of those things that keep us going and coming into new surprises like this one. Well that\'s all for this one. Thanks to all and any comments are appreciated.


Mouzion January 28 2009 - 16:59:55
In my opinion there are too many of these "in the future" things going around. I don't think it's that cool before it's actually available to everyone. Still waiting for those multiple terabyte USB sticks ;P
spywareon January 28 2009 - 18:09:35
"So as of now, quantum computers are still in the future." Which future? Rating average. Researching != rewriting wikipedia articles.
K3174N 420on January 28 2009 - 18:55:41
I liked it, but it left me wanting more... That said, any article on quantum computers would, I just bloody want one! ^^ Imagine the 1st quantom games console.... ...... I want that more...
ynori7on January 28 2009 - 20:03:38
I thought you were gonna submit this to the newsletter.
COMon January 28 2009 - 20:23:59
@ynori7: I read it first, gave feedback according to the quality I saw. Also note that I rated average so hopefully that explains it to you.
Folk Theoryon January 28 2009 - 23:11:35
not a very good article. i guess if you've never heard of quantum computers before, you'd learn something here...
ynori7on January 29 2009 - 00:02:37
@moshbat-seeing as how there is only one awesome rating, I'd guess that yours31f gave himself that one.
Futilityon January 29 2009 - 00:16:33
You'd be wrong. He actually hasn't voted, yet. Anyway, mediocre article. Not bad, not good. Just sort of there. Average.
yours31fon January 29 2009 - 12:07:02
I plan to make the changes and add to it. I will probably do this within the next couple of days, and I will post in the shoutbox when I do. Thanks for the comments everyone.
korgon January 30 2009 - 20:20:28
Good subject just need more content, At least he tried, Update it to make it better.
c4p_sl0ckon February 18 2009 - 18:33:11
Needs more substance. Explains just the very basic stuff.
Mtutnidon March 26 2011 - 18:35:02
Too basic.
[email protected]on September 03 2011 - 21:35:31
Seems interesting. I want to go into electrical engineering so I may of found this more useful than others.
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