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An internal investigation into the creation of a research facility for the development of a quantum computer.

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An internal investigation into the creation of a research facility for the development of a quantum computer

We are nearly five years into the new century and we still have not found a solution to the breakdown of Moore’s law. After ten years of continually shrinking the chip size surely we are now ready to move on in a different direction. The age of the silicon computer is coming to an end. It is time for us to move on. The future is in the development of the quantum computer. We must begin research now before it is too late. As the New York Times science writer George Johnson puts it, "Quantum computing would be to ordinary computing what nuclear energy is to fire."

Conventional computers make use of two different electrical states known as bits. They are on “or” off, in 1s or 0s. Research by prominent physicists has shown that, due to superposition, atoms are here “and” there. This is due to the fact that atoms cannot be precisely located and thus have probabilities. There is a probability of it being here and a probability of it being there.

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Semiconductors, the basic building blocks of computers, are being packed closer together in accordance with Moore’s Law. However there is a limit to the size things can be made. We will make them smaller only to find them entering the new realms of quantum physics. They are becoming more powerful only to face higher power wastage. In chips made up of a billion transistors may leak between 60 and 70 Watts of power. This power wastage is often dissipated in the form of heat, which leads us into new difficulties.

With the discovery of the quantum world some sixty years ago by Einstein, Heisenberg and Bohr, new complications are arising at the atomic levels that computer components are progressing into. Electrons, the primary component of electricity, fail to behave as a particle sometimes favouring a waveform. Not only this, they can “tunnel” through objects and take multiple routes. The implications of this are disastrous. If we cannot control the flow of electricity, how are we supposed to be able to build a machine that does what we want it to do? We cannot.

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These critics are also quick to point out the effects of de-coherence. This basically states that any interaction with the outside environment will cause the loss of superposition reverting back to the classical “or” state. This happens at random resulting in the corruption of data and yielding nonsensical results. This could occur by even a stray photon – the quanta or particle of light – interacting with the quantum state. However, even this is no longer a concern, with new methods for overcoming this having been devised. In the 1990s research groups developed quantum error correction codes which can detect and repair de-coherence before quantum computation is destroyed, devaluing this argument.  

This is no impossible feat. It can be and will be done. The only question is who will accomplish this distinctive triumph. Surely we will not allow our rivals at Hewlett-Packard to get there before us. They have already started their research in this field. It is time for us to do the same now. Therefore you are urged to carefully consider your decisions. Do not allow us to be beaten to this unparalleled success. We must press forward with this research.

Suneil Rudra 10TA            English Original Writing

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