The Quantum Computer
Imagine you are in a room, this room has 10 doors. Behind 1 door, let’s say door 7, you put a chair.
If you ask a regular computer to find the chair it will start working as follows. It opens door 1, checks if the chair is here, if it’s not it closes the door and moves on to the next door. This happens until the computer finally opens up door 7 and finds the chair.
Wouldn’t it more interesting to be able to open every door at once and find the chair in 1 go? This is what the concept of quantum computing is all about. In 1981 a man named Richard Feynman introduced a new form of computer architecture, called the Quantum Computer. This is a computer that makes used of the quantum effects “entanglement” and “superposition”.
Before continuing it may be interesting to shortly explain you what these effects are.
Entanglement: the entanglement of a paired particle is a strange connection between 2 particles that seem to be independent of the distance between them. This means that if you measure 1 particle you immediately know the state of the second particle, no matter how far they are apart.
Superposition: to put it simple a physical system, like an electron can exist in all its particular, theoretically possible states simultaneously. But when you measure it, it gives a result corresponding to only one of the possible states.
There is a lot more to explain about this, really a lot more. But it would take us too far for this subject. As long as you have the basic idea, you’ll be fine.
As you know a regular computer works with bits. A bit can be either 0 or 1 at, so it can only have 1 state at the time. This 1 or 0 can be in any form, the state of a magnetic field for instance, like in the memory of a computer.
Quantum computers work differently, they work with Qubits (sounds delicious if you ask me). As explained in the beginning of this post, this Qubit does not have 1 state at one point, it can have all possible states at the same time. To put it simple, a Qubit does not contain 0 or 1 it contains 0 and 1 at the same time.
There are mathematical models to explain this in more detail, but again I’m not going to do this since it would take us too far.
Sadly a quantum computer is still purely theoretical at this point. There have been a series of experiments but none of these have been able to give us the capability of creating a quantum computer. But you can probably imagine that there are a lot of uses for a computer that works in such a way.
Especially in scientific research, we would be able to processes a large amount of data and find relations and patterns in this big pile of data. If we succeed one day to create machinery like this, it would mean a revolution for scientists.
But let’s face it. Most of us are interested in other uses for this technology. Imagine what it could mean for the gaming and movie industry.
This concept also brings a few negative effects, Yin Yang (the universe is in balance). Ever payed a bill via web banking? I suppose you have… In order to secure your transaction and of course your money, the bank encrypts the data that you send and that has been sent to you. A lot of programs use prime numbers for this. 2 very large prime numbers get multiplied by each other. A regular computer can’t possibly find these 2 numbers within a reasonable amount of time. But a Quantum computer, that’s entirely different story. Theoretically a computer with quantum capabilities could be able to do this in a matter of seconds.
I realize that, what I explained here, is just the tip of one giant iceberg. But you have to know that this is a rather complex subject and I could literally spend weeks writing about it. So I figured it would be more interesting to just give you a few basics.
If you have questions, let me know!