The NSA is working on a quantum computer

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The Washington Post wrote that the US National Security Agency (NSA) is working on a supercomputer that uses quantum mechanics, which is to break complex ciphers in the future. The information is to come from Edward Snowden, an asylum analyst in Russia, famous for revealing secret activities of the American services. According to the newspaper, the quantum computer is being designed as part of the Hard Target Penetration project with a budget of $ 79.7 million.

The strange principles of quantum mechanics

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The technology to be used by the NSA equipment is based on quantum mechanics that are difficult to understand for lay people. In the world of atoms and electrons, everything looks different from the real macro. The best example to describe the curiosities that appear in this field is the electron which, according to the standard model learned in schools, flies around the nucleus of the atom like a planet around the sun. It really is different - there is only a certain probability of a given position of an electron. In an intact (unobserved by the researcher) system, the electron is present in all places at the same time. Only with the act of observation do the principles of quantum mechanics stop working - then its exact position can be determined.

Bits and qubits

What does this mean for computers? First of all, a huge increase in their power. Standard processors operate on the basis of a binary system - data can be written as bits with the values ​​1 or 0. If the new technology is used, qubits (quantum bits) will be able to take both values ​​simultaneously. The qubits are supposed to be able to represent all numbers between 1 and 0 in theory, which will allow you to make lightning-fast calculations. The implementation of quantum mechanics in the world of computers will make it possible to break any code. And that is why the NSA invests in such solutions - having the first real (so far there have been incomplete machines) quantum computer, it will gain a huge advantage over the rest of the world.

Quantum computer - not so fast

Scientists say, however, that such machines will have to wait a long time. There are many obstacles to their creation - the most important of them is the issue of keeping qubits in the so-called superposition, that is, in the state in which they represent simultaneously 0, 1 and all numbers in between. It is difficult because - as mentioned earlier - during the act of observation, the fragile quantum world crumbles and traditional Newtonian mechanics come to the fore. Researchers in Canada's Burnaby succeeded in making significant progress on this issue by keeping the cooled phosphorus atoms in a superposed state for three hours. At room temperature, a result of 39 minutes was achieved, which is very optimistic for the future. The only question is whether quantum computers will serve the good of humanity, or will they become only a powerful weapon in the hands of government services.