Quantum computing explores the subtleties

Buddhism is reasoned and emphasizes subtlety. The “five aggregates” are in order of form, feeling, thinking, behavior, and consciousness, each of which is more subtle than the other.

The same goes for the development of science and technology. In the next step of technological development, quantum cannot be bypassed. In the field of developing quantum potential, China and the United States have their own advantages.

In terms of classification, China is the only one in the world in the field of quantum communication. In 2016, the “Mozi” quantum technology experimental satellite was launched. In 2017, the “Beijing-Shanghai trunk line” of quantum communication was completed. So far, China has launched practical products (quantum encrypted communication mobile phones), leading the formulation of many international standards.

But in the field of quantum computing, China seems to be still catching up.

In the United States, technology giants such as IBM, Google, and Amazon have already put quantum computing cloud services into commercial use. In 2019, Google even claimed to have achieved “quantum hegemony”-the superconducting bit quantum computing prototype “Planewood” developed by it has shown its advantages over classic computers in specific algorithms.

In contrast, China has not taken the first step in the practical application of quantum computing until 2020.

On September 12 of that year, the Chinese start-up technology company “Essence Quantum” launched China’s first quantum computing cloud platform. Its quantum computer is called “Wuyuan” and its core hardware is the 6-Qubit Kuafu chip.

Then in October, among the “Top 100” of the world’s quantum computing technology invention patents, “Essential Quantum” entered the top ten. This is the first time for China, and it is also the only seedling of China in the top 20. The progress is obvious, but the gap is also obvious.

Unexpectedly, this time the “transcendence” came so quickly.

“100 trillion times” speed
On December 4, 2020, a Chinese scientific research result was published in the journal Science. It is hailed as a “milestone” of the superiority of quantum computing-a research team composed of Pan Jianwei, Lu Chaoyang, etc., constructed 100 photons with 76 photons The “Nine Chapters” prototype quantum computing model realizes the rapid solution of the “Gaussian Bose sampling” task with practical prospects.

The details are not shown for the time being. What needs to be known is that when solving the same algorithm task, the “Nine Chapters” are 100 trillion times faster than the current strongest supercomputer. This means that for the “Nine Chapters” to complete the task in one minute, the supercomputer will take 100 million years.

Even if compared with Google’s “Plana Bell”, the “Nine Chapters” is nearly 10 billion times faster than the supercomputer analogy.

After the debut of the “Nine Chapters” of the optical quantum computing prototype, the introduction of the superconducting quantum computer is probably not far away. Due to its versatility, superconducting quantum computers are being developed and applied. In August 2020, Google announced another major development-the first realization of the use of quantum computers to simulate chemical reactions.

IBM Q SystemOne quantum computer

Optical quantum computing does not rely on sample capacity, which is its advantage over superconducting quantum computing.

Using a computer to simulate the microscopic world in order to study its mechanical properties is one of the purposes of quantum computers when they were first conceived. Superconducting quantum computers have shown wide potential applications, so they have received the most attention from scientific research. The “Enlightenment Source” of the original quantum is also a superconducting quantum computer, which has 6 available qubits.

In longitudinal comparison, the number of qubits that “Wuyuan” can manipulate is the level of IBM in 2015. However, the accuracy of its manipulation of qubits is much better than that at the time. The number of qubits that can be manipulated and the accuracy of manipulation are the two most important indicators in this field.

The “Nine Chapters” unveiled this time have taken a very different path. The “Gaussian Bose Sampling” experiment it conducted is another solution to verify the superiority of quantum.

Through this program, the research team achieved the detection of 76 photons after the “calculation”, and the state space exceeded the “plane tree”, reaching the 30th power of 10. You know, the current storage capacity in the world is only 10 to the 22nd power. In addition, optical quantum computing does not rely on sample capacity, which is its advantage over superconducting quantum computing. The success of optical quantum computing indicates infinite possibilities.

“Moore’s Law” may fail, and the growth point of the next generation of computing power must be further found in the micro world.

However, it has no practical value at present. The optical quantum computing is going to be “universal”, and new designs need to be added. There is a view that it is more likely to contribute to the construction of the field of quantum communications. Of course, the ultimate application of cutting-edge technology is often unexpected.

What is the “new quantum revolution”
Although quantum computing is in its infancy, it is not “out of sight”. The development of quantum computing is actually faster than imagined. Quantum technology has gone from “cold” to “hot” within 5 years at most.

When IBM and others launched its quantum computing cloud service in 2015, few people knew it. China’s quantum communication network has also encountered the same situation. Although there are “Mozi” and “Beijing-Shanghai trunk line”, and enterprises have launched quantum communication mobile phones as early as 2017, the market is after all niche.

However, in the past two years, the field of quantum technology has become a sweet potato. Judging from recent trends, the United States has launched the “Quantum Network Strategic Concept”, Chinese high-level organizations collectively learn about quantum technology, and Germany has launched a practical support program for quantum technology… Quantum technology has suddenly become a popular arena. why is that?

Although quantum mechanics is difficult, it is not new. As early as 1900, due to the study of “black body radiation”, quantum theory sprouted. By the first half of the 20th century, through Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Einstein, Bohr and other big names, the basic framework of quantum mechanics had been laid.

A new generation of artificial intelligence system AlphaFold can predict protein structure

Unfortunately, since then, the theoretical research of quantum mechanics no longer has made significant progress. In tinkering with the theory, the scientific community is also at odds. For example, regarding one of the most wonderful properties of quantum, the so-called “wave function collapse” phenomenon caused by observations, whether to adopt the Copenhagen interpretation, the multi-world interpretation, or other interpretations, has not yet been determined.

But while arguing, the practical application of quantum mechanics has long been promoted in the world. The theory has not yet been fully established, but practical applications have been fruitful. This is a spectacle that belongs exclusively to quantum mechanics.

The most important applications are the laser, communications and semiconductor industries. Among them, the Internet industry, which developed from the semiconductor industry, is now a dominant presence, profoundly changing human society.

This change, or due to the fact that it was previously “overwhelmed” by the Internet, is now in the era of explosive growth in computing power and storage. And “Moore’s Law” is about to fail because the chip manufacturing process is close to the physical limit, and the real protagonist quantum has attracted more and more attention.

In recent years, there has been a view that the technological changes in the past 50 years should be attributed to the “quantum revolution.” In the past, our application of quantum mechanics was “knowing it, but not knowing it.” The importance of quantum mechanics has therefore been ignored intentionally or unconsciously.

But now, “Moore’s Law” may fail, and the growth point of the next generation of computing power must be further found in the micro world. This means that the study of quantum has to “know why.”

Therefore, the next technological revolution will be called the “new quantum revolution.”

Continue to decrypt the human body code
Every technological revolution will greatly change the way of life. Today, what will the “new quantum revolution” change?

According to the future of quantum computing, the seemingly huge Internet and massive amounts of data today are probably still in their infancy. The storage market is an example. At present, the data storage components produced globally are far from keeping up with the demand brought about by the explosion of data. It is widely predicted in the industry that by next year, the supply of storage vendors will be out of stock to a terrible state. And this is just the beginning.

The three major blue oceans that have emerged in recent years—5G, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence—all require more data and greater storage. You know, their development has just begun.

Obviously, data and computing power are bundled together. To process more data, more computing power is naturally required. But as mentioned earlier, the process of the chip has approached the physical limit.

This is not over yet. The construction of the Internet of Things requires smaller and more accurate sensor chips. The development of artificial intelligence is inseparable from new algorithm design… Just to meet the needs of the “three blue oceans”, quantum computing has been placed on enough expectations.

On October 23, 2019, Google CEO Sundar Pichai next to a Google quantum computer at the Santa Barbara Laboratory in California, USA

However, what is more anticipated may be the new field that quantum computers can develop.

The virus pandemic seen in a century has once again made people realize how fragile their daily lives are. Despite the best efforts of the medical community, the new crown vaccine has been approved for marketing in many countries, and the speed of its research and development is miraculous, but it still appears to be too slow and too few under the heavy casualties around the world.

What can be expected is that the development of drugs is where quantum computers come in.

On December 1, 2020, DeepMind, the company that developed the artificial intelligence AlphaGo and swept the top Go players, announced a news that shocked the biological world: its new generation of artificial intelligence system AlphaFold, in the international protein structure prediction competition, Defeated the rest of the contestants.

According to DeepMind news, artificial intelligence can accurately predict the 3D structure of proteins based on amino acid sequences. Its accuracy is comparable to 3D structures analyzed using experimental techniques such as cryo-electron microscopy (CryoEM), nuclear magnetic resonance, or X-ray crystallography.

As early as the second half of the 20th century, the sequencing technology of nucleic acids and proteins had matured. At that time, biologists had optimistically estimated that all the codes about the human body would be solved. However, “structural biology” has become a bottleneck. The research on the structure of biological macromolecules and the properties related to the structure has entered a period of exploration for half a century.

Nowadays, under the engine of computing power and data, this problem is solved by “programmers”. At the same time, the quantum computer’s advantage in simulating biochemical processes once again opened the door to unlocking the human body code. This time, the research has reached the smallest particle level, and the work that has been suspended for half a century due to external constraints.

It was often said in the past that in the 20th century, humans could explore the universe and observe the tiny particles, but they knew the least about themselves. The study of biological processes has been “blind people touching the elephant” for a long time. Therefore, too many diseases cannot be overcome.

Now, the prelude is slowly opened.