Quantum computers can solve problems that would take an ordinary computer millions of years to complete. It would take not thousands, but millions of years to create solutions to complex equations. Google and researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) have just tackled the latest roadblock that was holding back quantum computing. They created program groups called qubits, which use delicate quantum physics to represent information. They programmed these qubits to identify and prevent calculation errors. Qubits haven’t actually prevented initial bit-flip errors, but they prevent the mistake from derailing a calculation.
Quantum computing technology still has many barriers to overcome until it revolutionizes computing as we know it. computing data is interpreted as 0’s and 1’s, but quantum computing relies on superposition, wherein something can be both 0 and 1 at the same time. Only the objects on the tiniest scale (think electrons) can achieve delicate superposition. UCSB-Google’s quantum computer also needs to run at a temperature near absolute zero to precisely detect extremely tiny superposition states of qubits.
John Martinis leads the UCSB-Google research team. His research team is also working on new methods of superconducting, specifically computer chips made out of aluminum that are designed to run as close as possible to absolute zero.
Until quantum computing becomes a viable option, people will have to keep crowd-sourcing their computing for faster problem solving. Folding@home is an app that lets users donate computing power to Stanford University researchers. Their team is using this technique to solve complex protein-folding problems that may hold the key to cancer and Alzheimer’s research. Crowd-sourced computing has been popular with other research groups like the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). SETILive users can donate their device’s computing power to scan the sky for alien activity.
Source: Technology Review