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Unformatted text preview: alo ne—and even mo re ef f icient
materials may be o n the ho rizo n.Y. L. Chen, J. G. Analytis, J.-H. Chu, Z. K. Liu, S.-K. Mo , X. L.
Qi, H. J. Zhang, et al., “Experimental Realizatio n o f a Three-Dimensio nal To po lo gical
Insulato r, Bi2Te3,” Science 325, no . 5937 (July 10, 2009): 178—81; K. Greene, “Intel Lo o ks
Beyo nd Silico n,” Techno lo gy Rev iew , December 11, 2007; and I. Tho mso n, “AMD: New
Trinity Lapto p Chips Out-Juice Intel Graphics,” The Register, May 15, 2012. Hyperef f icient
chips o f the f uture may also be made o ut o f carbo n nano tubes, o nce the techno lo gy to
assemble the tiny structures beco mes co mmercially viable. Other designs mo ve away f ro m electricity o ver silico n. Optical co mputing, where signals are
sent via light rather than electricity, pro mises to be f aster than co nventio nal chips, if lasers can
be mass pro duced in miniature (silico n laser experiments sho w pro mise). Others are
experimenting by craf ting co mputing co mpo nents using bio lo gical material (think a DNAbased sto rage device). One yet-to -be-pro ven techno lo gy that co uld blo w the lid o f f what’s po ssible to day is quantum
co mputing. Co nventio nal co mputing sto res data as a co mbinatio n o f bits, where a bit is either a
o ne o r a zero . Quantum co mputers, leveraging principles o f quantum physics, emplo y qubits that can be bo th o ne and zero at the same time. Add a bit to a co nventio nal co mputer’s memo ry
and yo u do uble its capacity. Add a bit to a quantum co mputer and its capacity increases
expo nentially. Fo r co mpariso n, co nsider that a co mputer mo del o f sero to nin, a mo lecule vital
to regulating the human central nervo us system, wo uld require 1094 bytes o f inf o rmatio n.
Unf o rtunately there’s no t eno ugh matter in the universe to build a co mputer that big. But
mo deling a sero to nin mo lecule using quantum co mputing wo uld take just 424 qubits.P . Kaihla,
“Quantum Leap,” Business 2.0, August 1, 2004. So me speculate that quantum co mputers co uld o ne day allo w pharmaceutical co mpanies to
create hyperdetailed representatio ns o f the human bo dy that reveal drug side ef f ects bef o re
they’re even tested o n humans. Quantum co mputing might also accurately predict the weather
mo nths in advance o r o f f er unbreakable co mputer security. Ever have tro uble placing a name
with a f ace? A quantum co mputer linked to a camera (in yo ur sunglasses, f o r example) co uld
reco gnize the f aces o f anyo ne yo u’ve met and give yo u a heads-up to their name and
backgro und.P . Schwartz, C. Taylo r, and R. Ko selka, “The Future o f Co mputing: Quantum
Leap,” Fo rtune, August 2, 2006. Oppo rtunities abo und. Of co urse, bef o re quantum co mputing
can be co mmercialized, researchers need to harness the f reaky pro perties o f quantum physics
wherein yo ur answer may reside in ano ther universe, o r co uld disappear if o bserved (Einstein
himself ref erred to certain behavio rs in quantum physic...
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- Winter '14