A new Google computing experiment published in Nature has ushered in a new era of computing, making the quantum computer a reality. The study is an experiment in theoretical computer science in which Google scientists demonstrate the ability of a quantum processor to solve a calculation that a traditional computer would take thousands of years to perform. To date, no one has managed to maintain quantum coherence for so long.

Quantum computers work in a substantially different way from classical machines: A classic bit is a 1 or a 0, but a quantum bit, or qubit, can exist simultaneously in more states. A team led by John Martinis — an experimental physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Google in Mountain View, California — said that his quantum computer performed a specific calculation that goes beyond the practical capabilities of “classical” computers. The same calculation would take the best classical supercomputer 10,000 years to complete.

A fundamental property that characterizes the qubit concerns the so-called interference and the possibility of the qubit to be entangled, leading to a deep correlation. Simply put, it means to be able to calculate at speeds never seen before.

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