Over the last two decades, there has been remarkable progress in the field of quantum computing. This fundamentally new approach to computation relies on the strangeness of quantum mechanics. Where a traditional computer operates with bits,
a quantum computer operates with something called qubits
(get it, quantum + bit = qubit), clever). While a bit can be in a state of zero or one, a qubit can be in a superposition state of zero and
one. This is the fundamental quantum property that is exploited in quantum computing: superposition means that a quantum particle can occupy two states at the same time. Thus qubits can exist in a large variety of states, allowing much more complex computational algorithms to be performed more efficiently and quickly. Under the right circumstances, a quantum computer can perform functions in a few minutes that would take a classical computer the age of the universe to complete! However, as you might expect, building a quantum computer is no easy feat. They are (currently) vastly complicated and expensive setups in high-end research labs. And while computers can operate with billions or trillions of bits, the best performing quantum computers have reached less than 100 qubits. Nonetheless, the promises are worth the pursuit, and the USA is funding some of this groundbreaking research with the US National Quantum Initiative.