办事指南

Quantum computers are coming – just don't ask when

点击量:   时间:2017-11-06 08:01:16

By Michael Brooks WHATEVER happened to quantum computers? A few years ago, it seemed, it was just a case of a tweak here, a fiddle there, and some kind of number-crunching Godzilla would be unleashed upon us. Just as digital processors changed our lives in ways hard to imagine a few decades ago, the monstrous information processing power of individual atoms and electrons would mean that computing – and the world – would never be the same again. We’re still waiting. In 2007, a Canadian company called D-Wave unveiled what it claimed was a quantum computer that could solve a sudoku puzzle, but there remains deep scepticism whether it is truly a quantum computer. Meanwhile, we seem stuck with the conventional, “classical” computers that rattle and purr away on our desks, toggling currents of electrons in billions of silicon transistors to produce the numbers, words and images that frame our lives. Paradise lost? No – merely postponed. Progress might have been slower than many quantum evangelists were predicting a decade or so ago, but after a quiet few years quantum computing is back with a vengeance. “The rate of progress has been dramatic,” says David Wineland, a quantum-computing specialist at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado. The stage is now set, he and others claim, for the quantum computer to change our lives in the 21st century just as radically as its classical,