What is Quantum Computing and how does it work?

Now any theoretical physicist on the street these days will tell you that quantum processors are the next logical step in the evolution of mathematical computations.

But for those of us just barely capable of tying our own shoes many questions spring to mind what does theoretical physics have to do with improving processor performance? is this going to end up benefiting me in any way that is actually relevant and most importantly will this next leap finally be the one that takes me home.

Unlike classical processors which use transistors to create digits of binary code called bits which are represented in the familiar form of 0’s and 1’s.

Quantum processors use atomic sized structures such as a single electron and produce coded units called qubits which have the unique capability of being both the values of 0 and 1 simultaneously.

To accomplish this, engineers utilize extreme cold conditions and magnetics to manipulate the natural polarity field within the electron and bring it to position where it rests in alignment with the artificially created magnetic flow this resting state is referred to as spin down and would be similar to a zero value in classical coding.

When the electron is forcefully going against its natural inclination to rest with the flow of the magnetic field or it's polar South has been spun to the top position that is called spin up which you guessed it represents a 1 in traditional binary speak.

Let me use an analogy to clarify imagine you're a child back on the playground sitting on the swings if you're just sitting there exerting no effort letting gravity hold you in place this could be considered the spin down position.

Now let's say you were to accomplish the dream of every child around the world and managed to be all the way vertical up above the bar spin up would be the point at which you reached the apex of your swing and gravity was working its hardest to pull you violently back down to the earth.

Now as I mentioned earlier qubits have the unique potential to end up representing both a 1 and a 0 encode value simultaneously which you could imagine in our previous scenario would be like a swinger sitting at the 90 degree mark directly between the ground and the sky.

But just like gravity would make it impossible to stay at that because addition for more than a fraction of a moment the electrons which drive the quantum processor have forces preventing them from sitting still as well.

In fact that might be underselling it a little bit because thanks to the quantum mechanical phenomenon known as superposition the electron is actually moving in all directions simultaneously before the moment it is measured.

So in order to quantify information derived from an electron spinning out like a roided-out hamster in a ball engineers first determine the basic spin value as previously described then they use mathematical probability scales which calculate the likeliness the electron was actually spinning in the indicated direction and then arrived at two separate numbers for each scenario which are the processors outputs.

For instance one might receive something like a 70% probability up and 30% down or as you now see both 0 and 1 at once if not at least to varying degrees.

This form of measurement coupled with the electrons unique physical properties lead to a quantum processors two main advantages over a classical one.

1. Since the electrons are spinning at such an indeterminable rate and direction they are also potentially capable of running an indeterminable number of processes at remarkable speeds

2. Since two measurements are needed to quantify each qubit value as opposed to the standard one transistor per bit rule the increasing computing power for quantum processors is an exponential one in other words when one qubit tells two friends they tell two friends and then they tell two friends until you reach the measly range of five hundred qubits where you've generated more possible processors than there are particles in the known universe

But now to the downside or the spin downside as it were while quantum processors may have more computing power than they pull known universe plus heman

Because of all the insane amounts of effort it takes to isolate, manipulate and quantify something like an electron and it's spin these computers would likely only see a benefit when running intense multi-tiered operations that take advantage of the system's ability to run calculations against each other such as weather and traffic predictions.