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Quantum Computers

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Quantum computing is set to revolutionize the way we think about computers. In fact, the phrase "quantum leap" will probably never describe anything more accurately than the revolution this will herald. Put simply, scientists have figured out how to make the smallest bit of information a computer can understand not only have a value of 0 or 1 at any given moment, but also somehow magically exist as 0 and 1 at the same time, while also existing as just a 0 or a 1, all simultaneously. This, of course, makes no sense. So to better understand what we're dealing with, I present here a snippet of conversation overheard at lunch at Central Square in the year 2106 . . .

I hate our History of 21st Century Computing course. It makes no sense. Like in chapter 3 where they talk about "re-starting" a computer and "booting" it - what's that all about? I know they didn't have Quantum Computers back then, but why on earth would you turn off your computer? Did they turn off their watches and phones too? Didn't they invent the mute button yet? And with all those vacuum tubes they had in them, it must have taken minutes to warm up or should I say "boot up" their computers. Or were the tubes 19th century - no wait, 20th century I think. I keep getting those mixed up.

And then there was this part about "progress bars", where they would have to watch a line fill in on the screen before they could go on working. Do you think they did that on purpose? I mean, what's the point of that? Are you getting more progress if it takes longer or shorter? Maybe their programmers had a weird sense of humour back then. Oh wait, that still applies today. We are the Knights who say "Ni!" Haha, yeah, that's always going to be funny.

So, can you imagine if they wanted to watch Holovision, they couldn't just do it - they had to go find their computer, type in the name of the movie, then wait like hours for it to "download" and then watch it on their tiny 60" plasma screens, haha. I couldn't live like that. Actually, it's a wonder they were able to live at all, I mean with all that cancer and disease they used to have. That Deep Blue computer we learned about might have been okay at chess. But could you imagine not using a Quantum Computer to come up with the most efficient sequence of nanobots to administer the cure to cancer. That progress bar would be stuck at zero for an awfully long time.

And then there was that whole secrets thing. I know we celebrate Jan. 20 as No More Wars, No More Secrets Day every year - but it's still funny to imagine that they used to keep information from each other - on purpose. No one imagined that Quantum decryption would have such a far-reaching side effect, but I can't even imagine a world of secrets and information hiding like they had. No wonder they were fighting each other all the time. So barbaric.

And if that wasn't bad enough for them, they couldn't even avoid floods and hurricanes because their pre-Quantum computers just couldn't predict the exact time and place of an earthquake or other calamity. Ha, I even read that they tried to predict the weather in their quaint pre-Quantum ways - and even though they were almost always wrong, people would actually read these predictions daily. I guess they had nothing better to do since they were always waiting for their progress bars and stuff. The way they used to dress in the winter was pretty funny too. Did you see the pictures? No electron face shield or anything - they must have been freezing. Like, hello, it's -10?C outside, I think I'd like to freeze my bare face please.

You know, I don't even know why we study this stuff anyway. I mean, now that there are Quantum Computers literally everywhere - in the walls, in our clothes, in our hair - it's not like we're ever going to revert back to our old ways again. But I guess it's interesting to see how it all started.

When Dieter Zirkler first completed his "Quantum Earth Simulator" in 2084, I guess it would have been great to be there. Imagine, just working in his garage, he was able to create the first truly usable Quantum Computer - and was able to simulate the earth well enough to accurately predict all weather for the next 100 years. And he did this on the first day. That must have been quite something to see for those 21st century folks. But it's so boring. Everything is so different now. God, I hate York.

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