In 1947, American computer engineer Howard Aiken said that just six electronic digital computers would satisfy the computing needs of the United states. But obvious he didn't count the large amount of data produced due to scientific research and also the emergence of the Internet.
As the electronic data and computation is increasing at an exponential rate, will human ever have amount of computing power he needs?
|ENIAC (Electronic numerical integrator computer) world's first general purpose computer|
The answer to this might be beyond a supercomputer in the coming future, a "Quantum Computer" yes a computing device far more faster than the normal computers we know. Quantum Computer is a device which directly uses the "Quantum Mechanical" phenomenon.
In digital computers we have transistors for computation and all the work. In them data is encoded into binary digits we are all aware of i.e. 0s and 1s. Where 0 being the off/low state and 1 being the on /high state and each of the 0 or 1 is called a bit ( binary digit)
But here in the quantum computers, instead of bits we have "qubits". The most fascinating thing about the qubits is that they can be 0 and 1 at the same time. What???? this might come in your mind but let us try it in a different way we can say that a switch can be on and off at the same time. Sounds crazy, but true.
Well how does it works. In contrast to transistors in digital computers a very small entity such as an atom is used to do do computing. Any thing like photon, a nucleus or an electron can be used as qubits. But, how can they be at the 0 and 1 state at once?
Let me explain you for example an electron of phosphorus is used as a qubit. All electrons have magnetic field around them as they act like a tiny magnets and this property is call spin. They would align themselves in the direction of the external magnetic field and let it be the 0 state. Now if you have to change the spin of the electron you have to apply some force and that would be the high energy state of the electron or the 1 state.
Now if we are able to align the electron against the magnetic field it would stay there. So far it is the classical 0 and 1 but the amazing thing about the quantum particles is that they can be aligned in both directions at same time. Now if we measure there spin it would be either 1 or 0 but once we measure. But, electron can exist in both states at same time and this amazing phenomenon is called the Quantum Superposition.
As we really can't calculate a superposition so the information before we know the actual spin of electron is lost. So, we have to make such logical operations that the information is not lost. Well this is the most hardest part about creating a Quantum Computer. Well so far as I know 48% of accuracy has been achieved by a Quantum computer calculation which is remarkable.
It might happen that next generation at our age have successfully installed a 100% accurate Quantum Computer at large Labs like CERN