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Describes the building blocks of matter.

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World’s Tiniest Computer

World’s Tiniest Computer

Credit: Jenn Durfey
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dottiemae/5311528896/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0
Credit: Ian Dick
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ian_d/7479367108/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

From the bulky 1987 computer on the left, to the slim 2012 laptop on the right, computers have certainly gotten a lot smaller. But computers of the future are likely to be even smaller—much, much smaller.

Amazing but True!

  • Imagine a computer a million times faster than today’s computers, but so small that it’s microscopic.
  • It sounds like science fiction, but it really is possible. Such computers are called quantum computers. Their secret is using individual atoms or electrons to encode and process data.
  • Credit: Steve Jurvetson
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/5763421918/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    The Rainier 128 Qubit quantum processor developed by D-Wave [Figure3]

  • How is this possible? And how might such computers change our world? Watch this video to find out: http://www.nbclearn.com/sciencenews/cuecard/63282

What Do You Think?

Learn more about quantum computers at the links below. Then answer the following questions.

  1. How do quantum computers get their name?
  2. Why do quantum computers have to be kept at very low temperatures?
  3. Conventional computers use digital bits of ones and zeroes. What do quantum computers use? How is this related to the speed of quantum computers?
  4. How do scientists control qubits?
  5. Developers of the first quantum computers have been compared to the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk. Why?
  6. What do you think? How does the problem-solving ability of quantum computers compare with that of conventional computers? How do you think quantum computers will change computing in the future?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Jenn Durfey; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dottiemae/5311528896/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Ian Dick; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ian_d/7479367108/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  3. [3]^ Credit: Steve Jurvetson; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/5763421918/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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