(Maclean) Joseph Emerson, a professor at the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo and chief executive of the start-up company Quantum Benchmark, says that quantum computers may be able to solve problems we can’t solve or don’t even know exist today.
The idea behind pursuing quantum computers is that they are likely to be capable in mere minutes of cracking problems that had previously been intractable. “Today, we’re used to thinking about conventional computing as being something that solves everything,” says Emerson. “But there are certain classes of problems that conventional computing just can’t solve.”
Puzzles so complex, say, that hardly anybody talks about them—or even knows about them. Like curbing the massive loss of electrical energy as it flows through transmission lines, says Emerson. Or decoding nature’s secrets for transforming airborne nitrogen into the compounds plants can use—the elusive key to making fertilizers with less waste. Or pinpointing which molecules will bond together to make new life-saving drugs, instead of slogging through frustrating years of lab research with no guarantees.
Aephraim Steinberg, professor of physics at the Centre for Quantum Information and Quantum Control at the University of Toronto and co-director of CIFAR’s Quantum Information Science program. (CIFAR is the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, a charity known for assembling the world’s scientific geniuses) said further, “We don’t know exactly which problems quantum computers will be better at than classical computers. We are looking constantly for other problems they might be able to solve,”

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