Tracing Uncertainty: Google Harnesses Quantum Mechanics At California Lab

Outside, balmy September sunshine warms an idyllic coast, as California basks in yet another perfect day.

Inside, it’s minus 460 Fahrenheit (-273 Celsius) in some spots, pockets of cold that bristle with the impossible physics of quantum mechanics — a science in which things can simultaneously exist, not exist and also be something in between.

This is Google’s Quantum AI laboratory, where dozens of super-smart people labor in an office kitted out with climbing walls and electric bikes to shape the next generation of computers — a generation that will be unlike anything users currently have in their pockets or offices.

“It is a new type of computer that uses quantum mechanics to do computations and allows us… to solve problems that would otherwise be impossible,” explains Erik Lucero, lead engineer at the campus near Santa Barbara.

“It’s not going to replace your mobile phone, your desktop; it’s going to be working in parallel with those things.”

Quantum mechanics is a field of research that scientists say could be used one day to help limit global warming, design city traffic systems or develop powerful new drugs.

The promises are so great that governments, tech giants and start-ups around the world are investing billions of dollars in it, employing some of the biggest brains around.

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