Quantum Computing Makes Inroads Towards Pharma

Post Syndicated from Charles Q. Choi original https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/diagnostics/quantum-drug

Theoretically, quantum computers theoretically can prove more powerful than any supercomputer. And recent moves from computer giants such as Google and pharmaceutical titans such as Roche now suggest drug discovery might prove to be quantum computing’s first killer app.

Whereas classical computers switch transistors either on or off to symbolize data as ones or zeroes, quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, that, because of the surreal nature of quantum physics, can be in a state of superposition where they are both 1 and 0 simultaneously.

Superposition lets one qubit essentially perform two calculations at once, and if two qubits are linked through a quantum effect known as entanglement, they can help perform 22 or four calculations simultaneously; three qubits, 23 or eight calculations; and so on. In theory, a quantum computer with 300 qubits could perform more calculations in an instant than there are atoms in the visible universe.