New technologies are being developed faster than we can keep up. Urban legends say that the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are at least five years ahead of us in terms of technologies. Where we might still be dreaming of hoverboards, flying cars, augmented reality and printable food, these might be things already in use in Silicon Valley – at least if the legend holds true. In any case, technological advancements are moving ahead rapidly, and it is exciting to see what the results will be and how it might affect our future.
One trend that is currently gaining momentum is quantum computing. Quantum computers are computers that use quantum mechanics to solve computational problems. That means they can calculate more complex things way faster. What might have taken 1000 years to calculate by a normal computer, would take only a couple of hours or days if done by a quantum computer. It is basically a computer on steroids.
Impact of Quantum Computing
Computers with quantum computing horsepower can have massive impact (both positively and negatively) on fields such as:
- cybersecurity: quantum computers are able to solve the algorithm behind the encryption keys that protect our data and thus pose a huge threat to cybersecurity
- the lifespan and power of batteries: quantum computers can run simulations on how different molecules used in batteries interact, enabling us to pick the most stable, efficient, and cheapest ones for battery production
- the accuracy of weather forecasting: quantum computers can deal with a huge number of variables and can thereby create more accurate simulations of different weather scenarios
- artificial intelligence: quantum computers are able to calculate complex algorithms, which are needed for artificial intelligence, a lot faster than normal computers
- tackling problems holistically instead of bit by bit: quantum computers have an enormous capacity that enables them to tackle enormous datasets. That’s the real game-changer that these computers offer the world
These are of course only a fraction of the possibilities that quantum computers open up. Many more uses are being developed and discovered as the technological advancement of quantum mechanics evolves. Yet already now it can be said that most of the above-mentioned fields would improve the lives of many and push a lot of other technologies forward by miles. It is a fascinating area that is still only in its infancy, and now is an amazing time to participate in developing it. It is a complex topic for sure, but also one with a lot of potentials and opportunity to leave your mark. If you want to be a pioneer, this is the perfect frontier to go exploring.
How to get started with quantum computing
You don’t need to be a scientist or an expert to play around with quantum computing. Alexandra Waldherr, an 18-year-old student, got infatuated with the topic of physics and programming at the age of 12. Now she is working with quantum computing at places like CERN Geneva, TU Vienna, and AF-Institute Vienna. Her curiosity and passion fueled her learning and achievements and through the wonders of the internet, she had access to many resources that helped her study this subject.
So much can be studied independently in a fun and easy-going way online. If you have enough discipline and are able to motivate yourself, you can learn anything and achieve great results. Look for example at the projects coming out of our #beapirate challenge. The participants had our videos, our network of mentors, and each other available, and they’ve created absolutely amazing projects. You don’t need a lot to go far. And quantum computing is definitely a field worth checking out! It will probably have a defining role to play in shaping our future.
Her passion for chemistry and physics started quite early but at age 15, when she realized how much more efficient it can be to use visualization and data science to opt for her laboratory game! 🙂 She started with Python but quickly found herself interested in quantum computing – especially as there are quite major problems in life science that quantum computers could help us solve like e.g. protein folding problems, which are crucial in understanding the processes in everyone’s cells. Alexandra won the Viennese Physics Olympiad best girl and was invited to join the research on kaons at CERN, Geneva in autumn 2019.