When Money Speaks, The Surreal Quantum World Gets Real
Quantum computers are theoretical devices that manipulate quantum states — called qubits — to conduct operations that are way faster than normal computers.
For years, most folks made sure to bold and add quote marks to that “theoretical” part. For years, those who doubted quantum computers had plenty of room for dismissal–and plenty of company. Quantum computers just seemed to exist on paper.
But quantum computing just got real.
How do I know? Money talks.
The thing is, quantum bits — or qubits — can be easily disturbed. They’re not as hardy as their unexponential classical brethren, the lowly bit.
But when researchers do figure it out, those qubits can be mighty powerful, I used to tell these Doubting Quantumases. If you put one bit and one bit together, you get two bits. But if you but a qubit and a qubit together, you get 2(n). Because of superposition, the qubit can be a 1 and an 0 and pretty much anything in between. At the same time.
But that sounded weird.
So no one really believed this was possible.
And those people, if they’re not careful are going to be like the folks that told Henry Ford to get a horse and invested heavily in buggy whips.
Dwave, makers of what some believe is the first commercially available quantum computer, got some heavy hitting investors recently.
Jeff Bezos, creator of Amazon, and even the Central Intelligence Agency, are putting money into Dwave. About $30 million worth of money.
There was another significant exchange of money for quantum information. The Nobel Prize committee awarded its prize in Physics and a couple million krona to David Wineland and Serge Haroche for their contribution to understanding quantum information and its power to create quantum computers.
The New York Times has taken notice of this percolating revolution in understanding reality on a quantum level. Did you ever think the NYT would say this?
But the very usefulness of quantum physics masked a disturbing dissonance at its core. There are mysteries — summed up neatly in Werner Heisenberg’s famous adage “atoms are not things” — lurking at the heart of quantum physics suggesting that our everyday assumptions about reality are no more than illusions.
This may just be the beginning and not just for Dwave and Nobel prizes in the quantum field.
There may be other more powerful ways to tap quantum information.
There may be other types of computation we don’t even know about–and the quantum computer may lead us there.
Dwave’s motto is “We have a problem with the impossible.”
When it comes to the power of quantum information to change our world and our universe — and maybe our multiverse — you haven’t seen anything yet.