Quantum Computers


By: Namish Gupta, Journalist

A quantum computer is a computer which makes use of the quantum states of subatomic particles to store information. In other words, a quantum computer uses quantum mechanics to calculate and store information. Basically, they’re supercomputers.

Today, the common smartphone or laptop uses binary code, also known as a “bit”. These bits contain 1’s and 0’s.  However, quantum computers use qubits, which are superior to bits. An example of this is like how 8 bits can can store and represent any number from 0 to 225, one at a time.  8 qubits can represent any number from 0 to 225 at the same time. This is why qubits are better that regular bits, because they are more efficient and powerful.   When calculating complicated and intangible numbers or equations, quantum computers can calculate all variations at once, but a classical computer has to calculate them one at a time.

However, quantum computers have their flaws as well. Qubits are still experimental, which means that they can be unstable. By themselves, or even in a quantum computer, the qubits can over-heat, demolecularize, and are sensitive to electromagnetic fields. Quantum computers use different methods to solve these problems. For example, to control the qubits and stop them from overheating, quantum computers cool the bits. For all the other problems, quantum computers zap the qubits with controlled pulses of electricity. This is the most used solution, as it fixes multiple problems and increases the longevity of the computer itself.

Currently, quantum computers are used to solve complex algorithms for NASA, other mathematicians and scientists. One is even in the process of calculating all the digits of Pi.

Quantum computers are revolutionary machines, and one day, they may even be standard issue in out homes. Yet, we are a long way from that.