Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quantum computers

This is the first of at least two posts relating to quantum mechanics.

Although quantum mechanics, is weird , extremely abstract, and difficult, it does relate to the everyday world in some ways. One of these concerns the development of quantum computers. Practical quantum computers are still a couple of decades away however.

Standard computers are limited in the amount of data they can hold and transmit. Each binary bit is either a zero or one. In quantum mechanics, the principle of superposition holds that for very small particles under certain conditions, multiple states or positions coexist. Therefore a quantum bit or "qbit" can have the states zero and one at the same time. This allows for an exponential increase in computing power. The technology has developed to the point where a 16 qbit computer has been developed.

Here's a good introductory article on quantum computers:

An introductory video on quantum computers from Scientific American:

Another interesting video on quantum computers:

Quantum computers will be useful for solving problems that are well beyond the reach of standard computers. This has advantages and disadvantages, one disadvantage being is that current encryption systems, which cannot be broken by standard computers, could potentially be broken by quantum computers.

One function that quantum computers will be very helpful with is searching through large, complex, databases. Here is a demonstration of a 16 qbit computer searching for complex molecular information in a database.

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting read Bob !
    Always love your Blogs.
    Thanks, Cyndy