use with Chapter 24
Posted August 3, 1998
you remember the first computer you ever used? Compared to
the machines today, it was probably pretty slow. Today's computers
are incredibly fast and powerful. Still, they have limits.
For example, some security codes used today are so complex
that even the most powerful supercomputers would take billions
of years to break them. However, these codes may not be as
effective against the computers of tomorrow. Researchers are
working on a new type of computer that could possibly decipher
these security codes in about a year.
new type of computer is called a quantum computer. It takes
advantage of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology,
which analyzes the magnetic fields surrounding the nuclei
of different atoms. The most common use of NMR technology
is in medicine, namely magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRIs
use magnetic fields to study a patient's body, much like an
x-ray or a CAT-scan.
computers use a binary system--a series of 1's and 0's--to
store data. Each digit in a binary system is called a bit.
Quantum computers treat the nucleus of each atom in a molecule
as a bit. These are called qubits. Quantum computers use NMR
technology to analyze these qubits.
haven't yet built an effective quantum computer. In 1996,
Neil Gershenfeld, Isaac L. Chuang, and Mark G. Kubinec took
the first shot and built a very simple 2-bit quantum computer.
They succeeded, but there are many more obstacles before you'll
find quantum computers sold in your local electronics store.
this happens, most likely quantum computers will not look
like your average classical computers. Classical computers
store their data in magnetic disks; quantum computers read
and store data in the molecules of a liquid. Gershenfeld and
Chuang point out that a quantum computer might look more like
a cup of coffee than the standard computer console.
Use this article and the references below to answer the following
do atomic nuclei respond to an external magnetic field?
Gershenfeld, Neil, and Chuang, Isaac L. "Quantum Computing
with Molecules." Scientific American, June 1998. http://www.sciam.com/1998/0698issue/0698gershenfeld.html
Stanford-Berkeley-MIT-IBM Quantum Computation Research Project.