For Google, Quantum Computing Is Like Learning to Fly

At a NASA lab in Silicon Valley, Google is testing a quantum computer—a machine based on the seemingly magical principles of quantum mechanics, the physics of things like atoms and electrons and photons. This computer, called the D-Wave, carries a $10 million, and the idea is that it can perform certain tasks exponentially faster than computers built according to the laws of classical physics—the physics of the everyday world.The trouble is that even top quantum computing researchers can’t quite tell whether the D-Wave will provide this exponential leap when applied to tasks that are actually useful, that can improve how the everyday world operates, that are more than experiments in a lab. But after several months with its D-Wave computer, Google believes that this machine can prove quite useful indeed. In the…


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