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Science Fortnightly: Looking Into Quantum Computing!

Over the past few weeks, one term has been popping up all over the place; Quantum Computing. News headlines, Facebook Posts or even in random conversations. So what is the big deal with Quantum Computing? I decided to do a bit of my own research.

First and foremost, What is Quantum Computing? I am not an expert so let’s get a proper expert to give a quick introduction!

 

credits to Microsoft for the video…

If you are thinking I am even more confused than I was before’, we are at least heading in the right direction. After all Richard Feynman once said “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics” and he was a great contributor to the science of Quantum mechanics.

Since the 1960s Computers have been developing at an incredible rate, getting smaller and more powerful. However, this development is about to meet its physical limits. Computer parts are approaching the size of an atom. Due to these physical limitations the idea of a smaller and more powerful computers are taking a new turn. Physicists and Engineers believe that the future of more powerful computers lie in the Quantum realm.

So how can a quantum computing be more powerful? Let’s start with a simple comparison. A conventional computer will use four classical bits to produce sixteen possible configurations out of which only a single configuration will be used. However, in a quantum computer using four qubits in superposition will allow the qubits to use all sixteen configurations at the same time. The number of configurations grows exponentially with each added qubit. 20 qubits can therefore store over a million configurations at the same time.

 

These computers probably won’t increase the speeds at which we send an email for example. However, it can be very influential in certain areas like database searching. So if a conventional computer requires a million seconds to go over an entire database, a quantum computer can do the same task in a thousand seconds.

But it is not always the greatest, after all quantum computing has the potential to ruin our IT security. Normally, our personal data is being kept secret by  an encryption system where you give everyone a public key to encode messages only you can decode. This public key can actually be used to find out your private key. Whilst a conventional computer will not be able to do this, it will be a very easy job for a quantum computing.

Quantum Computing is not that easy to understand but at the very least it is an exciting field!

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About Dinushi Mudalige

Hey! I am a first year at UNSW and will write to Blitz about everything and anything related to Science!

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