Google Has Just Achieved “Quantum Supremacy”


Avery P.

An image of the quantum computer provided by The Verge.

Avery Pollock, Staff Reporter

Last week, Google officially announced its new achievement of quantum supremacy. But what does that mean exactly? It means that Google, one of the largest tech companies across the globe, has just built and used the first quantum computer. 

Up until recently, every computerized device has always followed the same rules. This, however, is all about to change in the coming future, and after Google’s new milestone. An article by The New York Times explains that a quantum computer is, “expected to change the fundamental scaling behavior of algorithms, making certain tasks feasible that had previously been exponentially hard.” In simple terms, this quantum computer can do things pretty quickly. So quickly, in fact, that it gets the name “quantum computer.” But why is all of this relevant in the grand scheme of things? Well, with this new technology finally making waves, it may be safe to say that the future of our technology is about to get a lot more advanced at a much more exponential rate. But this was not the end for Google. A lab in Santa Barbara led by John Martinis from the Google team, according to the NYT, has built a microchip called “Sycamore” which “uses 53 loops of wire around which current can flow at two different energies, representing a 0 or a 1. The chip is placed into a dilution refrigerator the size of a closet, which cools the wires to a hundredth of a degree above absolute zero, causing them to superconduct. For a moment — a few tens of millionths of a second — this makes the energy levels behave as quantum bits or “qubits,” entities that can be in so-called superpositions of the 0 and 1 states.” Obviously, this is extremely complicated to articulate, and is known for being infamously hard in doing so. According to the NYT, it is easier to “imagine a qubit as just a bit that can be both 0 and 1 at the same time, exploring both possibilities simultaneously.” Freshman Tyler Pollock from Wade Hampton High school stated not only did he not really understand it as much, but is “curious to see what could come from this in the future.”

With this quantum computer being extremely hard to understand and articulate, it is important to note how incredibly important this milestone is for Google, and, as a whole, the entire tech industry. With this quantum computer being in the hands of Google, it is very plausible for the tech world to become much more efficient in its ability to program and design the new smartphones, laptops, and other household used electronic devices. Which one will be next?