"Quantum supremacy" achieved on the Central Coast

Joanna Estrada
August 1, 2020

According to Google, its quantum computer carried out in minutes a calculation that Google engineers believe would take a traditional computer 10,000 years to do.

Google researchers expect that quantum computers within a few years will fuel advancements in fields such as artificial intelligence, materials science, and chemistry.

The breakthrough was described in a paper published in science journal Nature.

Ivanka Trump recently claimed the United States has "achieved quantum supremacy" in a collaboration between "the Trump Admin, Google and UC Santa Barbara".

Not just Google but several tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Intel have joined the race to build a scalable quantum computer.

IBM had already disputed the magnitude of Google's breakthrough earlier on Monday in what could be called a preemptive strike in the ongoing war of words.

Quantum bits are called qubits. "We still don't even know if it's possible to scale quantum computers".

Google has been among the beneficiaries of the American support.

In quantum mechanics, an electron has a certain probability of being in position A and a certain probability of being in position B. Sometimes this is referred to as the electron being in both position A and position B. For two electrons, a computer must keep track of four probabilities: the chance that both are in position A, both in B, one in A and B, or visa versa. IBM says it won't take any more than a long weekend - or 2.5 days - for its most powerful supercomputer to match the prowess of Google's 54-qubit Sycamore processor.

But there is a catch: Quantum researchers need to cool qubits to about absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius or -460 degrees Fahrenheit) to limit vibration - or "noise" - that causes errors in calculations. It is in this challenging task that Google, which has designed much of its own electronics and used liquid helium for cooling, has made significant progress. It's a really important milestone, for many years practical quantum computing was only theoretically possible but Google's team has proven it can work. In their experiment this year, the researchers were able to get 53 of Sycamore's qubits to interact in a quantum state. Our company can do a computation in 200 seconds which would otherwise take the world's fastest supercomputer 10,000 years, the Google CEO claimed. But at the same time Google CEO Sunder Pichai mentioned, indeed it is a great achievement, however, it should take care and use wisely. So, even before quantum computing becomes widely used, "post-quantum cryptography" is already here. Well, a quantum computer has the potential to be ridiculously more powerful than classic computers and even the best supercomputers in the world (I'm looking at you Watson).

"We're proud to have contributed to this major milestone, ushering in the next gen of quantum tech in the U.S.!", she wrote, noting how Trump "signed the National Quantum Initiative Act into law, supporting robust quantum R&D".

NASA and other big institutions use multiple supercomputers to achieve a high level of complexed calculations.

With the right outcome of Quantum computing, gives us a chance to not only achieve many practical use cases but also help us to make the world better in a way that we can not do just with classical computers alone.

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