In 1946, the United States created a pivotal machine. ENIAC, the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer. This computer was not the first of its kind. However it was the first general purpose digital computer, a trailblazer for others to follow. In current century, we are witnessing an pivotal development in history: the quantum computer.
The Problem with Current Computers
At the very base of a traditional computer are transistors. Transistors simply put are tiny electrical switches that stop or allow the flow of electricity. These switches became smaller and smaller overtime, allowing computers to become compact and powerful at the same time. However, as transistors approached the size of a few atoms, we ran into a severe problem: quantum tunneling. Electrons may just teleport themselves through a switch.
In standard computers, they utilize “bits”. Bits are the base of information; they can be set to 1, “on”, or 2, “off”. Bits have to exist as either state. Quantum computers use qubits. Qubits have the special ability of existing as both states at the same time, known as superposition. When observed a qubit switches to either state. As a result, a set of four qubits can exist in all sixteen combinations at the same time. When in use, a quantum computer can do multiple calculations at the same time, vastly faster than a traditional machine.
Quantum computers are a very useful application for database searching. While traditional machines search items one at a time, a quantum one would only need the square root of that time. In addition, quantum computers are close to being able to break event the most secure forms of encryption.