The HowThingsWork.com website notes how today’s computers “work by manipulating bits that exist in one of two states: a 0 or a 1″ but that quantum computers aren’t limited to two states; they encode information as quantum bits, or qubits, which can exist in superposition.”
Qubits represent atoms, ions, photons or electrons and their respective control devices that are working together to act as computer memory and a processor. Because a quantum computer can contain these multiple states simultaneously, it has the potential to be millions of times more powerful than today’s most powerful
“The Quantum Computer is the Holy Grail of quantum technology,” observes the phsy.org website. “Its computing power would eclipse even the fastest classical computers we have
A 30-qubit quantum computer would equal the processing power of a conventional computer that could run at 10 teraflops (trillions of floating-point operations per second). Today’s typical desktop computers run at speeds measured in gigaflops (billions of floating-point operations per second).
Quantum computers also utilize another aspect of quantum mechanics known as entanglement. One problem with the idea of quantum computers is that if you try to look at the subatomic particles, you could bump them, and thereby change their value. If you look at a qubit in superposition to determine its value, the qubit will assume the value of either 0 or 1, but not both (effectively turning your spiffy quantum computer into a mundane digital computer). To make a practical quantum computer, scientists have to devise ways of making measurements indirectly to preserve the system’s integrity. Entanglement provides a potential answer. In quantum physics, if you apply an outside force to two atoms, it can cause them to become entangled, and the second atom can take on the properties of the first atom. So if left alone, an atom will spin in all directions. The instant it is disturbed it chooses one spin, or one value; and at the same time, the second entangled atom will choose an opposite spin, or value. This allows scientists to know the value of the qubits without actually looking at
Simon Singh discusses quantum cryptography in The Code Book:
A quantum computer defies common sense. Ignoring the details for a moment, a quantum computer can be thought of in two different ways, depending on which quantum interpretation you prefer. Some physicists view the quantum computer as a single entity that performs the same calculation simultaneously on 128 numbers. Others view it as 128 entities, each in a separate universe, each performing just one calculation. Quantum computing is Twilight Zone
Of all the consequences of quantum theory, the most technologically important is potentially the quantum computer. As well as destroying the security of all modern ciphers, the quantum computer would herald a new era of computing
For two thousand years, codemakers have fought to preserve secrets while codebreakers have tried their best to reveal them. It has always been a neck-and-neck race, with the codebreakers battling back when codemakers seems to be in command, and codemakers inventing new and stronger forms of encryption when previous methods had been compromised. The invention of public key cryptography and the political debate that surrounds the use of strong cryptography bring us up to the present day, and it is clear that the cryptographers are winning the information war. According to Phil Zimmermann, we live in a golden age of cryptography: “It is now possible to make ciphers in modern cryptography that are really, really out of reach of all known forms of cryptanalysis. And I think it’s going to stay that way.” Zimmerman’s view is supported by William Crowell, Deputy Director of the NSA: “If all the personal computers in the world — approximately 260 million computers — were to be put to work on a single PGP [Pretty Good Privacy] encrypted message, it would take on average an estimated 12 million times the age of the universe to break a single
Quantum cryptography would mark the end of the battle between codemakers and codebreakers, and the codemakers emerge victorious. Quantum cryptography is an unbreakable system of
encryption.7If quantum cryptography systems can be engineered to operate over long distances, the evolution of ciphers will stop. The quest for privacy will have come to an end. The technology will be available to guarantee secure communications for governments, the military, businesses and the public. The only question remaining would be whether or not governments would allow us to use the technology. How would governments regulate quantum cryptography, so as to enrich the Information Age, without protecting criminals?8
“D-Wave Systems has created the first scalable quantum computer, with proven entanglement, and is now working on producing the best results possible for increasingly complex problems,” writes Vivek Wadhwa for The Washington Post:
The D-Wave Two computer has 512 qubits and can, in theory, perform 2^512 operations simultaneously. That’s more calculations than there are atoms in the universe — by many orders of magnitude. Brownell says the company will soon be releasing a quantum processor with more than 1,000 qubits. He says that his computer won’t run Shor’s algorithm, an algorithm necessary for cryptography, but it has potential uses in image detection, logistics, protein mapping and folding, Monte Carlo simulations and financial modeling, oil exploration, and finding
1 Kevin Bonsor and Jonathan Strickland, “How Quantum Computers Work,” HowThingsWork.com, at http://computer.howstuffworks.com/
2 “Diamonds are a quantum computer’s best friend,” phys.org, 7 August 2014, at http://phys.org/news/2014-08-diamonds-quantum-friend.html (retrieved: 20 November 2015).
3 Bonsor and Strickland, “How Quantum Computers Work.”
4 Simon Singh, The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography (New York, NY: Anchor Books, 1999), p. 329.
5 Ibid., p. 325.
6 Ibid., p. 317.
7 Ibid., p. 349.
8 Ibid., p. 350.
9 Vivek Wadhwa, “Quantum computing is about to overturn cybersecurity’s balance of power,” The Washington Post, 11 May 2015, at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2015/05/11/quantum-computing-is-about-to-overturn-cybersecuritys-balance-of-power/ (retrieved: 15 June 2015).
Mike Adams, “Skynet rising: Google acquires 512-qubit quantum computer; NSA surveillance to be turned over to AI machines,” NaturalNews.com, 20 June 2013, at http://www.naturalnews.com/
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