Google claims it has designed a machine that needs only 200 seconds to solve a problem that would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to figure out.
The speed achieved by the computer represents a breakthrough called “quantum supremacy,” according to a blog post from the company and an accompanying article in the scientific journal Nature.
The results announced Wednesday herald the rise of quantum computers, which can store and process much more information than their classical cousins by tapping into the powerful forces contained in the field of physics known as quantum mechanics.
One big difference: Normal computers use data that exist in only one state at a time — a one, or a zero. Quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, which can simultaneously be any combination of zero and one. The difference means much faster processing speeds.
Google (GOOGL) will now try to build “a fault-tolerant quantum computer” as quickly as possible. The company sees applications in designing lightweight batteries for cars and airplanes, as well as new medicines.
“Achieving the necessary computational capabilities will still require years of hard engineering and scientific work. But we see a path clearly now, and we’re eager to move ahead,” it said in the post.