Eventually, quantum computers are going to be super powerful, but first we have to figure out how to use them. It's hard. Soon, aspiring quantum programmers will be able to try their experiments out for real on the world's first quantum computer in the cloud.
Scientists at the University of Bristol built a computer called "Qcloud," powered by simple but functional 2-qubit quantum processor. Qcloud works by firing two separate photons through parallel optics where they get entangled. During the process, operators can use phase shifters to change the speed of the photons, and program stuff by altering the entanglement. It's neat, but the really cool part is how you can do that from the Internet.
Not everyone will be able to play with the Qcloud, (un)fortunately; anyone who wants to try their hand at quantum coding has to put in some time with this simulator first, and then get approved to mess with the real thing. There's no real indication of what it takes to make the cut, but you probably have to have some idea of what you're doing. The real deal comes online on September 20th, so better get to figuring it out.
As awesome as it all is, the little quantum processor isn't going to do anything your normal computer can't do already. This baby chip isn't nearly complex enough for that. But the biggest challenge for quantum computing right now is just figuring out how to do anything reliably. But it looks like the first thing quantum coders will learn how to do is work from home in their underwear. Not a bad way to change the world. [University of Bristol via New Scientist]