Is Quantum Computing Ready to Supercharge Industries?

In our current digital age, modern computer code is comprised of the precise ones and zeroes that make up bits. But there’s a new computer on the horizon, developed by a major American military contractor, which is taking computing into the strange, subatomic realm of quantum mechanics, in which a one can be a one, or it can be a one and a zero and everything in between — all at the same time.

“It sounds preposterous, particularly to those familiar with the yes/no world of conventional computing,” reports The New York Times. “But academic researchers and scientists at companies like Microsoft, I.B.M. and Hewlett-Packard have been working to develop quantum computers.”

Lockheed Martin is one company confident enough in the technology to upgrade it to commercial scale, acquiring an early version of a D-Wave Systems computer and becoming the first company to use quantum computing as a part of its business.

Skeptics suggest D-Wave has yet to prove it has addressed the many challenges of quantum computing. “But if it performs as Lockheed and D-Wave expect, the design could be used to supercharge even the most powerful systems, solving some science and business problems millions of times faster than can be done today,” notes the article.

“Ray Johnson, Lockheed’s chief technical officer, said his company would use the quantum computer to create and test complex radar, space and aircraft systems. It could be possible, for example, to tell instantly how the millions of lines of software running a network of satellites would react to a solar burst or a pulse from a nuclear explosion — something that can now take weeks, if ever, to determine,” explains NYT.

“This is a revolution not unlike the early days of computing,” he said. “It is a transformation in the way computers are thought about.”

While there are still some naysayers, many people “working in quantum computing are generally optimistic about breakthroughs to come,” notes the article.

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