The era of quantum computing is here.

But what is quantum computing and how does quantum differ from “classical” digital computing? Well, we’re certainly no experts, but from our limited understanding, conventional computers use transistors that only store information in two electrical states of “On” or “Off”, which binary computer code represents as 1 or 0. These are referred to as binary digits, or “bits”— a collection of eight bits is referred to as one byte. By contrast, in quantum computing, the central element is the quantum bit or “qubit,” which can be 0 or 1, or a combination of both at the same time.

Quantum computers rely on the principles of quantum mechanics, the two cornerstones of which are ‘superposition’ and ‘entanglement’ of quantum states. Superposition describes a property whereby objects like electrons and photons or like Schrödinger’s hypothetical cat in a box can exist in two or more states at once. Entanglement occurs when two particles become inextricably linked with each other so that this link persists, even if one particle is very far away from the other particle.

How does this relate to research and development (R&D) activities at EpicentRx? Well, R&D sometimes depends on large-scale computations and intricate simulations. In theory, because quantum computers can look at all the possible states or outcomes of a problem and analyze these simultaneously, they can outperform classical computational methods.

The catch is that qubits are fragile, much more fragile than the bits in silicon computers, and thus prone to errors: unlike classical bits that persistently remain in a 0 or 1 state, quantum bits are extremely sensitive to “noise”, that is, the slightest perturbation in the form of vibrations or a change in temperature may cause them to collapse or “decohere”, thus destroying the information that these qubits contain. To eliminate thermal noise and vibrations, qubits are cooled to within a few thousandths of a degree of absolute zero, which requires significant energy and expense. Redundancy or the use of many more qubits also protects against noise.

The development of so-called “fault-tolerant” quantum computers that are inherently stable against error like Queensland has pledged to build may upend drug development, making it faster and more efficient.

We would call this the solace of quantum.