"Binary Data" by W.Rebel / CC BY 3.0
By Sarah Kaplan
For the first time, a machine that runs on the mind-boggling physics of quantum mechanics has reportedly solved a problem that would stump the world’s top supercomputers — a breakthrough known as “quantum supremacy.”
If validated, the report by Google’s AI Quantum team constitutes a major leap for quantum computing, a technology that relies on the bizarre behavior of tiny particles to encode huge amounts of information. According to a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature, Google’s Sycamore processor performed in less than three and a half minutes a calculation that would take the most powerful classical computer on the planet 10,000 years to complete.
The achievement has been compared to the Wright brothers’ 12-second first flight at Kitty Hawk — an early, aspirational glimpse at a revolution to come. By providing exponentially greater calculation power than the machines we use today, quantum computers could one day transform the way we communicate ideas, conceal data and comprehend the universe.
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