(Vice) The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has become a hub of quantum-computing research.
LANL recently hosted a Quantum Computing Summer School, a 10-week boot-camp for students. Students worked on projects, attended lectures, and generally steeped themselves in the quantum-computing universe. It’s a subject that, for the most part, doesn’t exist in universities. Only a few schools offer courses and even fewer offer specializations.
In 2018, LANL had 90 applicants for 10 spots; this year, the program had 230 applicants for 15 spots.
“It’s sort of a buyers’ market for us,” said Patrick Coles, a quantum physicist and the summer school’s organizer. The lab pays each student a stipend to spend 10 weeks in the high altitudes of New Mexico, learning about the strange machines of the future.
The hot core of LANL’s mission is nuclear security. And if quantum computers can successfully simulate atoms and particles, scientists can understand how the nuclear material inside existing bombs is behaving, what will happen as it sits inert, and what would happen if someone pressed the big red button.