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Quantum mechanics remains one of the most robust and puzzling fields of science. It is now set to make the first fundamental change in computing since Alan Turing’s code-breaking efforts in World War II. The strange nature of qubits requires a new approach to programming and algorithms. Yet the true potential of quantum computing will only be clear once the “Entangled Web” becomes as ordinary a miracle as the smartphone in your pocket.


Quantum computers are fundamentally different from conventional computers.

Quantum computing makes use of a fundamental feature of quantum mechanics: The “spins” of particles can be up, down or both at the same time. In quantum mechanics, particles can exist in “undefined” states. Quantum systems can be in an undefined quantum state. Quantum computers use qubits rather than the conventional binary (0 or 1) bits of conventional computers to encode information. Qubits are 0, 1 or in a superimposed state of simultaneously both 0 and 1.

Quantum computing offers unforeseen security because any hack must leave traces.

About the Author

Davide Castelvecchi is a senior reporter for Nature. He trained as a mathematician, received a doctorate from Stanford University and did post-doctoral work at the University of Paris-Sud at Orsay.

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