THE JAW-DROPPING PROMISE — AND BRAIN-TWISTING CHALLENGE — OF QUANTUM COMPUTING
By Karen Eng
Computers have become so powerful that the idea they can’t just do, you know,everything is almost unfathomable. Yet many calculations are still too big for even the biggest supercomputer to process — like cracking complex encryptions or modeling global weather systems. That’s where the promise of quantum computing comes in. With the principles of quantum mechanics at its core (more on this below), quantum computers can, in theory, provide exponentially more power and speed than today’s supercomputers — in a much smaller space. The idea has been around for decades, but today, scientists like TED Fellow Jonathan Home and his team at the Institute for Quantum Electronics in Switzerland are, atom by atom, taking quantum computing out of the realm of theory and into reality. Here, Home walks us through how quantum computing works, some of the challenges of creating a fully functioning system — and how it could one day be used.