That’s quirky

Bristol Uni offers chance to tinker with quantum cloud

Do you ever feel like a misplaced rocket scientist? Well, thanks to University of Bristol, and the power of cloud computing you’re one step closer to living those NASA fantasies.

Speaking at the launch of Bristol Science Festival 2013 this month, Professor Jeremy O’Brien announced that his team are launching a new project called “Qcloud”, designed to make the resources for quantum computing accessible to everybody. The quantum processor housed at the Centre for Quantum Photonics at the University of Bristol will become the world's first open-access system, allowing users from anywhere in the world to access it remotely via the internet. Run on a smaller scale than machines like Google’s immense D-Wave machine, which are accessible to only a tiny handful of people, it’s hoped that Qcloud will, as the Raspberry Pi did, democratise the technology, connecting an unprecedented number of people to this brave new frontier.

With every development, the computing world is getting closer to the day when traditional capabilities will no longer be enough. In the years to come, quantum technology could be harnessed for everything from ultra-secure communications through the exchange of Quantum Keys, to measuring way beyond the limits of classical precision, factoring numbers, or solving optimisation issues. There are a lot of predictions floating around that suggest in quantum computing will be used to underpin massive data dependant operations. But with the technology very much in its infancy, its optimistic at best to suggest that learning to work a quantum machine is going to be a more impressive asset than multiple programming languages on your LinkedIn anytime soon.

That’s not to say it won’t happen though, and when that day arrives, the University of Bristol wanted to make sure that there will be an army of coders reader to make the new wave of quantum machines really sing.  According to O’Brien, "A quantum computer can do things faster for you, but someone has to program it, and at the moment there are only a handful of people around the world who would be qualified."

If you’d like to get a taste of what Google is doing on their D-Wave, from Friday 20 September, anyone can log on to the university website and access the quantum simulator - as well as some intro quantum computing guides. Once users are happy with their simulation,  they can submit it to be run on an real live quantum photonic processor, and who knows, one day, you might be the first to harness the mind boggling power of this technology to make the first quantum Angry Birds.

Images by  Bartertown and Robert Couse-Baker
Lucy Carey

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