Outside, the winter sunshine of September warms the perfect coastline, as California basks in yet another perfect day.
Inside, it’s as low as 460 F (-273 C) in some areas, pockets of cold teetering with the impossible physics of quantum mechanics – a science in which things can simultaneously exist, and neither exist nor be anything in between.
This is the Google Quantum AI Lab, where dozens of smart people work in an office equipped with climbing walls and electric bikes to shape the next generation of computers — one that will be unlike anything users currently have in their pockets or desks.
“It is a new kind of the computer who uses Quantum mechanics to do the calculations and allow us… to solve problems that would otherwise be impossible,” explains Eric Lucero, chief engineer at the campus near Santa Barbara.
will not replace cell phoneyour desktop; You will work in parallel with these things.”
Quantum mechanics is a field of research that scientists say could one day be used to help curb it Global WarmingOr designing city traffic systems or developing powerful new drugs.
The promises are so great that governments, tech giants, and Startups around the world investing billions of dollars in it, employing some of the biggest minds around the world.
Old computing is built on the idea of binary certainty: tens of thousands of “bits” of data that are each definitely either “on” or “off”, represented by a one or a zero.
Quantum computing uses uncertainty: its “qubits” can exist in both unit and zero states in what is called superposition.
The most famous example of quantum superposition is Schrödinger’s cat – a hypothetical animal enclosed in a box containing a vial of poison that may or may not shatter.
While the box is closed, the cat remains alive and dead at the same time. But once you get involved in a file quantum state And open the box, the question of life or death of the cat is solved.
Quantum computers use this uncertainty to perform a lot of seemingly contradictory calculations at the same time — a bit like being able to walk every possible path through a maze at once, rather than trying each one in a row until you find the right path.
The difficulty for quantum computer designers is getting these qubits to maintain their superposition long enough to perform the calculations.
Once something interferes with it – noise, dirt, the wrong temperature – the overlay collapses, leaving you with a random and possibly meaningless answer.
The quantum computer Google showed journalists looks like a steampunk wedding cake hanging upside down from a support structure.
Each layer of metal and the bent wire gradually gets cooler, right down to the final stage, where the palm-sized processor is cooled to just 10 milli Kelvin, or about -460 F (-273 C).
This temperature – just above absolute zero, the lowest possible temperature in the universe – is vital to the superconductivity on which Google’s design is based.
Although the cake layer computer isn’t huge—it’s about half a person tall—a proper lab space is taken up with equipment to cool it—tubes are squeezed over it with helium reliefs to compress and expand, using the same process that keeps your refrigerator cold.
But… what does all this actually do?
Well, says Daniel Lidar, an expert in quantum systems at the University of Southern California, it’s an area that promises a lot when it matures, but it’s still a little kid.
“We have learned to crawl, but we certainly haven’t learned yet how to walk, jump or run,” he told AFP.
The key to its growth will be to solve the problem of superpositional collapses – opening the cat’s chest – to allow for meaningful calculations to be made.
As this error-correction process improves, Lidar said, problems such as optimizing city traffic, which are very difficult on a classic computer due to the number of independent variables involved — the cars themselves — could come in handy.
“On a quantum computer (a debugger), you can solve this problem,” he said.
For Lucero and colleagues, these future possibilities are worth the brain ache.
“Quantum mechanics is one of the best theories we have today to experiment with nature. This is a computer that speaks the language of nature.
“And if we want to go out and figure out these really hard problems, to help save our planet, and things like climate change, instead of having a computer that can do exactly that, I want that.”
© 2022 AFP
the quote: Tracking Uncertainty: Google Harnesses Quantum Mechanics at a California Lab (September 29, 2022) Retrieved October 2, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-uncertainty-google-harnesses-quantum-mechanics.html
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