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Physicists Made An Unprecedented 53 Qubit Quantum Simulator (vice.com) 70

Two teams of researchers have published papers [1, 2] in the journal Nature detailing how they were able to create unprecedented quantum simulators consisting of over 50 qubits. The University of Maryland team and National Institute of Standards and Technology team -- the two teams behind one of the two new papers -- were able to create a quantum simulator with 53 qubits. Motherboard reports: Quantum simulators are a special type of quantum computer that uses qubits to simulate complex interactions between particles. Qubits are the informational medium of quantum computers, analogous to a bit in an ordinary computer. Yet rather than existing as a 1 or 0, as is the case in a conventional bit, a qubit can exist in some superposition of both of these states at the same time. For the Maryland experiment, each of the qubits was a laser cooled ytterbium ion. Each ion had the same electrical charge, so they repelled one another when placed in close proximity. The system created by Monroe and his colleagues used an electric field to force the repelled ions into neat rows. At this point, lasers are used to manipulate all the ytterbium qubits into the same initial state. Then another set of lasers is used to manipulate the qubits so that they act like atomic magnets, where each ion has a north and south pole. The qubits either orient themselves with their neighboring ions to form a ferromagnet, where their magnetic fields are aligned, or at random. By changing the strength of the laser beams that are manipulating the qubits, the researchers are able to program them to a desired state (in terms of magnetic alignment).

According to Zhexuan Gong, a physicist at the University of Maryland, the 53 qubits can be used to simulate over a quadrillion different magnetic configurations of the qubits, a number that doubles with each additional qubit added to the array. As these types of quantum simulators keep adding more qubits into the mix, they will be able to simulate ever more complex atomic interactions that are far beyond the capabilities of conventional supercomputers and usher in a new era of physics research. Another team from Harvard and Maryland also released a paper today in which it demonstrated a quantum simulator using 51 qubits.

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Physicists Made An Unprecedented 53 Qubit Quantum Simulator

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  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @08:45PM (#55647789)
    For uninitiated, does it mean some of our KeyEx methods that rely on factorization are about to get broken?
  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @08:50PM (#55647809) Homepage
    Scott Aaronson, a prominent quantum computing expert made comments about some very similar work that is relevant https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=3512 [scottaaronson.com]. The short summary is that we should expect people to continue to push up how many qubits can be practically simulatable. But that sort of improvement through clever tricks and the like doesn't really do much to address the more interesting issue of quantum supremacy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_supremacy [wikipedia.org], whether there are problems that a quantum computer can solve that a classical computer practically cannot. Note that the "practically" in the previous sentence is really important. Everything a quantum computer can do a classical computer can do with exponential slow down; standard conjectures essentially amount to saying that a classical computer cannot do any better than that.
    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
      While that's true, I think having realistically usable quantum computers with stable enough qubits to perform interesting calculations is an important step towards determining whether quantum computers are any better than classical computers. In doing so, you increase the interest in quantum computers, since they can do more than novelty calculations or toy programs, which in turn increases research on further applications for them. The more eyes there are on the problem, the more likely it is that we'll fi
    • by Anonymous Coward

      They can bubble sort faster than 'classical' computers. Only sometime the results won't be sorted properly, and often it will be slower than qsort.

      Quick take my money, I'm gullible!

  • How much qubits do they need to break RSA?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      They're gonna need about tree fiddy.

    • by z3alot ( 1999894 )
      After some googling, one source says about 4000 qubits to break 2048-bit RSA keys. Another says 10000 for the same job
    • by Onthax ( 1322089 )
      How many to break Bitcoin?
  • by fleabay ( 876971 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @09:17PM (#55647903)
    53 qubits ought to be enough for anybody.
  • And lining them like a group of balls on a billiard table. But even if this idea comes true, to being a real regular computer that works on your desktop. Will the Net Neutrality put all this tremendous work in vain?? It's like putting a Tesla that will go 0 to 60 in three seconds. On a road that only goes 10 miles an hour.
  • I wonder if you can use this same technology to employ line of sight. House to house transmission of data? That would be cool! Game with your neighbors!
  • That would give them a decent start on building an arq.

  • Now that's something to be really excited about!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    According to John Martinis' (from Google) invited talk to this year's Crypto 2017, building a quantum computer with as many qubits as possible might be good for getting into the headlines, but for being otherwise useful, the qubits' error rate and how long they stay stable is as important. For current sizes 1% error rate might be OK, but as quantum computer become bigger they have to drop below 0.1% for being able to use error correction.

    Thanks to error correction there is an important distinction to make b

  • I remember the old Burroughs B6700 had 52 bit words - 48 data and 4 'tag' bits.

    Why 53 - Is it a significant number somehow or is that just the maximum that could be achieved?

  • Technobabble (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skovnymfe ( 1671822 ) on Thursday November 30, 2017 @07:12AM (#55649419)

    Quantum simulators are a special type of quantum computer that uses qubits to simulate complex interactions between particles. Qubits are the informational medium of quantum computers, analogous to a bit in an ordinary computer. Yet rather than existing as a 1 or 0, as is the case in a conventional bit, a qubit can exist in some superposition of both of these states at the same time.

    I love how quantum people love writing stuff like this, because if you don't already know exactly what it means, it won't do diddly dick to help you clarify what a quantum computer is anyway.

  • All I really want to know is when can they laser-cool my beer?

Chemistry is applied theology. -- Augustus Stanley Owsley III

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