From Feynman to the freezing: the history of quantum computing

From Feynman to the freezing: the history of quantum computing

3D Hardware quantum form
Shutterstock/Dmitriy Rybin

A classical computer uses binary digits with the two possible states of 1 or 0, a quantum computer uses qubits that can exist in multiple states simultaneously. Linking qubits together holds the potential to increase processing power exponentially, which in turn would have a huge impact on the world in a number of ways.

From speeding up the process of developing effective cancer medicines to aiding the advance of other emerging technologies, a range of exciting applications of the technology have been predicted.  One example would be a drastic reduction in the time it takes to create and train artificial intelligence, which would make the technology far more accessible than it currently is.

Spurred on by ambitions to make this revolutionary technology a reality, the likes of Google and IBM have made long, high-profile strides in the last five years, with scientists and engineers closing in on targets of creating 100 qubit systems. Though the world has seen rapid quantum computing progress in recent years, the foundations for this progress were laid in the midst of the previous century.

1965: Feynman

Having already played an important role in the development of the atomic bomb, the famous physicist, Richard Feynman, turned his attention to quantum electrodynamics in the mid-nineteen sixties. This field relates to the way that electrons interact with one another, governed by photons and electromagnetic forces. His research into this area prompted the important prediction that antiparticles are just normal particles moving backwards in time.

This theoretical work from Feynman marks an important foothold at the beginning of the journey toward the developments in quantum computing today, with Einstein himself having doubted the use of Quantum Theory, preferring solid predictions and observation as a basis for exploring physics. It was this thinking from Feynman that would eventually expand to explore the relationship between binary numbers and quantum systems.

To continue reading this article register now