Quantum computer

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A Quantum Computer (also known as a ternary computer or trinary computer) is a new form of digital computer which offers new processing capabilities. While traditional binary computers operated based on boolean values (either zero or one), quantum computers can essentially see a value as both zero and one simultaneously. While this may sound both simple and pointless, it offers an entirely new method of processing data, at much greater speeds.


Quantum computers use priniples of quantum mechanics, and utilize states of matter (other than the typical solids, liquids, and gasses) which can only exist at temperatures very near absolute zero. These additional matter states enable the computer to have values be both 1 and 0 simultaneously.[1] This differs from the traditional binary computer because while normal computers can only have one or zero at a given point, Quantum Computers can have anything from 0-1 at the same time. The values can be 0 or 1 or a superposition of 0 and 1; in other words the symbols are both 0 and 1 (and all points in between) at the same time. While a normal binary machine can only perform one calculation at a time, a quantum computer can perform many calculations at once.[1]


There are many potential uses for quantum computers. In laymen's terms, they are smarter and faster than the typical computer of today. Binary computers of today are stretching the limits of the physical materials they employ to the maximum--it seems that there is only so much which can be done with the silicon, copper, etc. used in these machines. Ternary computers use new materials, which give them a significant advantage. Processing tasks which could take a binary computer hundreds of years can in some cases be completed by a quantum computer in under a minute.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are methods of making computers function in a more intelligent way. With much faster and "smarter" processing, these endeavors could be taken much further than is currently possible.
However, one disadvantage of quantum computing is that today's digital security relies on the fact that some things would simply take too long and cost too much to compute. This is the case with cryptography, which essentially uses an incredibly complex puzzle to key data secure. It could take an entire datacenter centuries to break some of the encryption algorithms of today, if a sufficiently complex key was used. However, quantum computing can solve puzzles such as these very quickly, thus enabling the rapid breaking of encryption. This is probably why agencies such as the NSA have been interested in acquiring one.[2]
Fortunately, there are ways to encrypt data against quantum computers as well, such as mesh encryption. However, these "quantum-proof" encryption algorithms are not in common use today.


There are still numerous problems with quantum computing from a practical standpoint. While the science behind it works, it is currently very cost-prohibitive to make a quantum computer. Additionally, the processor usually must be kept very cold (at least .001 degrees Kelvin) which requires a significant amount of cooling apparatus and refrigerant (liquefied gases). As it runs, it also heats up, meaning that breaks are typically required to allow the processor to cool down. Rather than this being a device to sit on a desk, this is a device which takes up a very large room.[3] Ideally, scientists want to either remove or significantly downsize the cooling equipment required, so that these can be a much more reasonable size. Some progress has been made, but these come with their own issues, and can only be run for very short bursts at present.[4]