A joint experiment between the University of Queensland (UQ) and Harvard University, the first of its kind to apply quantum mechanics to chemistry to predict molecular reactions, could have huge implications for science. It used a 2 qubit (quantum bit), "toy" experiment that is expected to form the basis of experiments using hundreds of qubits — more than the entire computational capacity of the planet — inside of 50 years.
UQ physics professor Andrew White, a co-author of the project, said the existence of quantum computing means that either quantum mechanics is wrong, or the Church Turing Thesis, which underpins computer science, is flawed.
“If the Church Turing Thesis is wrong, that’s really big news; or it means that quantum computing will turn out to be impossible for a fundamental reason, or that a fast classical factoring algorithm exists,” White said, referring to a theory by MIT assistant professor Scott Aaronson that the only way to prove the probability of quantum mechanics is to build a quantum computer.
“If you asked [the inventors of the diode] what good they have done, they might have said they can shrink a computer to the size of a living room, but they would never have guessed what computers would become – this is where we are at."
Due to the nature of science, the ramifications of the experiment are essentially unknown, however, White postulates that it could be used to predict the outcome of chemical reactions, albeit without the inherent randomness that is absent in controlled computer simulations. White said a 300 qubit register can store more information than the number of particles in the universe."
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