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Surprising Science

First Quantum Computer Sold

In a bid to enable computers to learn faster, defense company Lockheed Martin has bought a system that uses quantum mechanics to process digital data. At $10 million, it is the first sale of its kind. 

What’s the Latest Development?

The defense company Lockheed Martin has taken a gamble on the future of supercomputing in an effort to reduce cost inefficiencies. It is the first company ever to purchase a quantum computer. With a price tag of $10 million, the computer will act in concert with the company’s other systems to reduce waste and inefficiency on projects that involve complex interactions between hardware and software applications, such as its F-35 strike fighter which is currently more than 20 percent over budget. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Surprisingly, this new quantum computer is not especially more capable than conventional computers. So what are quantum computers good for if not processing information at faster rates? “Theoreticians have shown [quantum computers] could easily solve problems that are impossible for other computers, such as defeating encryption systems by solving mathematical problems at incredible speed.” To achieve its potential, a quantum computer uses qubits, or quantum bits: “When qubits in superposition states work together, they can work with exponentially more data than the equivalent number of regular bits.”


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