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First "Universal" Programmable Quantum Computer Officially Unveiled

A consortium of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado, has showcased the world’s first "universal" programmable quantum computer, which is capable of running any program enabled under the helms of quantum mechanics.

According to a report published in the "New Scientist", the newly invented machine still has some significant problems to be resolved, but it has the capability to process quantum mechanical numbers, termed as “qubits”.

While in traditional computing data is stored either in "1" or "0", quantum computing reportedly allows storage in "1" or "0" or in both, and henceforth it presents the potential to store a lot more data than conventional computing devices.

The machine stores binary data, i.e. 1s and 0s, in a couple of beryllium ions, which are kept in an electromagnetic trap and manipulated using ultraviolet lasers. In addition, the trap further contains two magnesium ions to keep the beryllium ions cool.

The inventors of the machine have touted it as a step forward on previous and cruder form of quantum kit because of its programmable nature.

Speaking about the breakthrough in the quantum computing domains, David Hanneke, who spearheaded the consortium said: "It's a step toward the big goal of doing calculations with lots and lots of qubits. The idea is you'd have lots of these processors, and you'd link them together".

Our Comments

It is still very early days for Quantum Computing but once the issues are ironed out, expect the differences in performance to be mind boggling. QC has the potential of making humans obsolete as it would bring artificial intelligence on par with that of humans.

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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.