Quantam research will yield 'super-computers': Nobel winner

Oct 10, 2012 by Jean-louis Santini
David Wineland, a US physicist who on Tuesday won the Nobel Prize for work in quantum physics with France's Serge Haroche, said our limited computers will "eventually" give way to super-fast, revolutionary ones.

David Wineland, who won the Nobel Prize for work in quantum physics with Serge Haroche of France, said our limited computers will "eventually" give way to super-fast, revolutionary ones.

The pair, both 68, were honored for pioneering optical experiments in "measuring and manipulation of individual ," the Nobel Physics jury said in its citation on Tuesday.

"Most science progresses very slowly," Wineland told AFP.

"On the computing side, we are able to think about applying these quantum systems to solve other problems that we try to do on computer now but our computers are limited.

"It has not happened yet and I am not even sure it will happen in the next decade, but I think it will eventually happen using quantum principles to make a quantum computer that will actually have applications."

In a pre-dawn phone interview recorded and posted on the website earlier, Wineland cautioned that such a super-computer was still a "long, long way" off.

Today's computers use a , in which data is stored in a bit that could be either zero or one.

But in superposition, a , known as a , could be either zero or one, or both zero and one at the same time.

This potentially offers a massive increase in data storage, greatly helping number-crunching tasks such as running climate-change models and breaking encrypted codes.

But many technical hurdles remain to be overcome.

"If we have the quantum computer, it will allow us to efficiently simulate other quantum systems that are of interest," Wineland told AFP, noting that scientists today "are simply limited by the computing power of our conventional computers."

David Wineland, a physicist at the US Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology, gives media a tour of his lab. "If we have the quantum computer, it will allow us to efficiently simulate other quantum systems that are of interest," Wineland told AFP.

The research has also led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the basis for a new standard of time, with a more than hundred-fold greater precision than present-day caesium , it said.

Specialists in optics, the two scientists worked independently of each other to trap particles, enabling the quantum state to be examined and manipulated at ultra-low temperatures.

"In some sense, the systems we worked on are in many ways complementary," said Wineland, project leader at the Ion Storage Group of US government's National Institute of Standards and Technology since 1979.

"We were never direct competitors but the nice thing is that we could look at a similar problem but in a different context. The experiments were different but they could be related at a fundamental level."

He said that news of his win was "overwhelming."

"This could have gone to so many people beside me," Wineland added, noting that a "huge" number of scientists are involved in his field.

Wineland said he was awakened in the middle of the night at his home in Boulder, Colorado with a call from the committee in Stockholm.

"Actually, my wife woke me up," he said. "I would have slept through it."

Explore further: Physicists provide new insights into the world of quantum materials

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nobel chemistry prize to be announced in Stockholm

Oct 10, 2012

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will announce the winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday, capping this year's science awards before the Nobel spotlight moves to literature and peace.

Quantum Computer Science on the Internet

Jul 31, 2004

A simulated quantum computer went online on the Internet last month. With the ability to control 31 quantum bits, it is the most powerful of its type in the world. Software engineers can use it to test algorithms that might o ...

Recommended for you

How Paramecium protozoa claw their way to the top

Sep 19, 2014

The ability to swim upwards – towards the sun and food supplies – is vital for many aquatic microorganisms. Exactly how they are able to differentiate between above and below in often murky waters is ...

User comments : 15

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JGHunter
4 / 5 (1) Oct 10, 2012
It's weird to think the computers we use every day could be considered "classical computers"...
hb_
2.4 / 5 (7) Oct 10, 2012
The vast majority of things for which computers are used today - be it control, calculations, robotics or just I/O handling - cannot be formulated for a quantum computer.

So, in the future, we will be able to factorize large numbers into primes, but not much more. Whoopie...
Deathclock
2.8 / 5 (9) Oct 10, 2012
Oh goodie, a bunch of comments on an article about quantum computing by people who obviously have no idea what quantum computing is!

They should completely get rid of the comments component of this website in my opinion...
antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (5) Oct 10, 2012
At the moment, when the computational power of classical computers gets already limited with quantum uncertainty, the word "quantum" cannot bring any substantial improvement.

Could you at least please google what quantum computing even means befor making such inane statements?
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Oct 10, 2012
Perhaps quantum computing will change the label 'computer' for all the computers we have now back to the label 'pocket calculator'.
scatter
5 / 5 (4) Oct 10, 2012
http://www.spring...h065813/

Here's a link to the paper that is said to have started the field of quantum computing. Could you Natello point out where it goes wrong? No handwaving if possible please. You may not have access to it, but you can walk into the nearest university library with a decent physics journal selection and read it there. I'm looking forward to hearing your through analysis on this.

You should also note that numerical accuracy is not the limiting factor in trying to solve a many body problem on a classical computer.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Oct 10, 2012
I indeed know, what the quantum computing means

I doubt it - or you would not have given us this comment about the quantum uncertainty limit (which is a problem of classical computing). Classical computing works with defined states.

Quantum computing operates on superpositions of states (among other things). It's a totally diffferent critter. It is also open to a more probabilistic approach (i.e. trading off the certainty that a result is absolutely correct vs. computation time)

which are actually nothing but a dull and transparent attempt for ad-hominem fallacy

It wasn't transparent enough. Obviously you, personally, have not the least bit of a clue what you are talking about (on any subject whatsoever)

And THAT - while it is very clearly ad hominem - is NOT a fallacy. Anyone can go look up your posts and see the truth of it.
sstritt
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2012
Oh goodie, a bunch of comments on an article about quantum computing by people who obviously have no idea what quantum computing is!

They should completely get rid of the comments component of this website in my opinion...

I gave you a five for the first sentence, but I find that the comments can be more informative than the article, or at least entertaining!
Eventide
3 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2012
None of this makes any sense to me. I will believe it once I see a quantum computer do something useful.
Lurker2358
2 / 5 (4) Oct 10, 2012
None of this makes any sense to me. I will believe it once I see a quantum computer do something useful.

hb was actually correct.

there are very, very few known quantum algorithms with any real world application beyond silly crap like factoring large numbers (which would become useless for encryption anyway if quantum computing existed.)

quantum computers cannot solve problems instantly, nor can they solve all possibilities simultaneously. That is a fairy tale somebody invented along the way.

The gains in computational power is dependent on the individual problem you are trying to solve, and also, quantum algorithms tend to need tailoring to each and ever specfic task. I have never seen a "generalized" quantum algorithm, at least in the sense of the "code" or "logic" behind it.

You can write a generalize formula with a bunch of variables on both sides, but most of the time you can't even say what the variables represent.

Don't expect a QC in your home or work place...ever.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2012
And how do I know this?

I watched several presentations from Stanford University.

While as stated, there definitely are places a QC outperforms classical computers, the majority of the types of problems presented tend to be things that are already known anyway.

The majority of computations on a normal computer are for just the operating system and video card.

Most of the time the computer is actually doing nothing but refreshing the monitor while it waits for the human's input.
verkle
4 / 5 (4) Oct 10, 2012
phys.org --- please correct the spelling of Quantum in the title.

djr
5 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2012
"Oh goodie, a bunch of comments on an article about quantum computing by people who obviously have no idea what quantum computing is"

This is because Deepak Chopra actually owns the word quantum - he is consulting with the universal intelligence to bring suit against the puny scientists who have hijacked his word. This is of course a problem - because you cannot talk to the universal intelligence without changing it - which invalidates the interaction. See - http://madmikesam...rom-him/
Lex Talonis
1 / 5 (1) Oct 11, 2012
Oh goodie, a bunch of comments on an article about quantum computing by people who obviously have no idea what quantum computing is!

They should completely get rid of the comments component of this website in my opinion...


I have quantum systems in my house for precision time keeping.

When the electrons move in a battery, the hands on my clock move, thus the spooky effect, that when enough electrons change state, that with a 99 to the 99th billion powers of certainty, the second hand will move one second, thus correlating the quantum effect, of the time constant shift in a registerable manner, based on electron spin.
omersoft
not rated yet Nov 11, 2012
good subject
iam work in master degree in :quantum cryptography
and write 5 papers about same subject.
know i attempt to improve the security of cloud computing depend on quantum cryptography
any one can help me please