Quantum Computing In our search to conquer all the biggest things in life, our technology gets smaller and smaller every year. We went from having floppy disks that could only hold 1.4MB of data to a usb flash drive that can now store up an over a terabyte of data. The recent explosion in this cheap, high-capacity hardware is down to the ability of computer engineers to reduce the size of the memory cells that make up the devices. Currently engineers can pack the cells closer together – in modern storage devices, the cells can often be separated by as little as 25 nanometers. And progress has been rapid: the number of transistors on a chip doubles roughly every 18 months (Colin). All of this still following the Moore’s Law standard. Future developments will also come from probing a scale one hundred times smaller than the cells in current silicon chips – the realm of quantum computers. "Quantum computing is computation at the level of individual atoms, molecules and photons," says Artur Ekert, professor of quantum physics at the University of Oxford.
According to Swapnil Srivastava Quantum mechanics arose as a superior theory, due to the fundamental failure of classical mechanics to describe several atomic phenomena. With the discovery of electron, by J.J. Thomson, in the year 1897, the whole idea of classical physics was shown to be inapplicable at the atomic level. Classical physics, which was governed by Newton's laws of motion and Maxwell's laws of electromagnetism, was used to define and predict the motion of particles.
The challenges we face today with our current computer systems could be a thing of the past with quantum computers. Quantum computing is one of the most interesting things happening in science today, but it’s also one of the hardest to talk about. As its laudably concrete name suggests, quantum computing combines two fields of scientific inquiry: quantum physics, which many people already struggle to understand (by reading books by Brian Greene, Michio Kaku, and others); and computing, which, because this year is the centenary of Alan Turing, is finally starting to get a little attention. Essentially, the goal is to build an incredibly small computer. Now, the physicists, mathematicians, and computer scientists who work on quantum computing think that they might provide a kind of computational wiggle-room. A computer built on that scale might be able to solve problems that today’s computers cannot solve (Rothman). Commercial quantum computers are still decades away, but physicists have already built simple versions by trapping atoms using magnetic fields and lasers – the trapped atom corresponds to a qubit (a “qubit” is quantum computing’s version of a bit.) For some physicists, including Deutsch, a real working quantum computer would give us concrete proof of some of the stranger aspects of quantum theory. These experimental computers currently fill entire rooms; much like the early electronic computers did in the 1950s and 1960s. Ekert believes nanotechnologists will need to work hard to find ways to make a "convenient commercial interface between quantum technology and the everyday world". In its simplest sense, a computer is just a machine capable of performing computations. It doesn't have to be electronic. Tom Ran, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, works with computers made out of strands of DNA. "Working this way, we can get three trillion computers, working in parallel, in a space the size of a water droplet," he says. The 0s and 1s of conventional computers are replaced with the four DNA bases: A, C, G and T (Colin).
With this quantum system operations can be translated into strands of DNA using these bases, and the way the DNA strands interact with each other produces new strands which can be decoded as output values. The attraction is that these inherently biological computers can interact directly with living cells. One goal is to program…