“Whoever achieves quantum first is going to be able to break all the encryption that’s currently being used,” Hurd says. Right now, data that is encrypted, whether it’s a password, the plans for a new fighter plane, or the names and locations of intelligence officers, can be stolen, but can’t be read unless the thief can break the encryption code. When fully implemented, quantum technology will be able crack those codes, no matter how strong they are.
In November 2018, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), China’s biggest defense electronics company, unveiled a prototype radar that it claims can detect stealth aircraft in flight. The radar uses some of the exotic phenomena of quantum physics to help reveal planes’ locations. It’s just one of several quantum-inspired technologies that could change the face of warfare.
In case you missed it, the U.S National Quantum Initiative Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 21 just before end-of-year holidays. Broadly, the NQIA sailed smoothly through congress driven in part by worry over losing ground in a global race to achieve practical computing and other quantum information-based applications.
President Donald Trump on Friday signed legislation ramping up quantum computing research and development. The National Quantum Initiative Act (H.R. 6227) authorizes $1.2 billion over five years for federal activities aimed at boosting investment in quantum information science, or QIS, and supporting a quantum-smart workforce.
For years, quantum computing, which leverages the difficult, and, to many, spooky science of quantum mechanics, has been a subject mostly of interest to the technical elite. Yet as scientists and now policymakers point to the rapid progress that China is making in the field, it’s the intelligence community that appears to be the most alarmed.
The Senate cleared the way for the president to approve implementation of a 10-year plan to accelerate quantum computing research and development. The National Quantum Initiative Act, introduced by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, passed the Senate Dec. 14 by unanimous consent.
China has been pushed into third place on a list of the world's most powerful supercomputers. The latest list by Top 500, published twice a year, puts two US machines - Summit and Sierra - in the top two places. The US has five entries in the top 10, with other entries from Switzerland, Germany and Japan.
While the International Space Station (ISS) is a technological marvel, it has not traditionally had a lot of onboard processing capacity. That changed last year when NASA delivered a supercomputer to the station. It was only there for a test run, but now the agency plans to use it for processing data and running experiments. Eventually, NASA and manufacturer HP hope to understand why some parts of the computer work well in orbit and others don’t.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center has signed a contract with Cray for NERSC’s next-generation supercomputer, a pre-exascale machine slated to be delivered in 2020. Named “Perlmutter,” in honor of Berkeley Lab’s Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter, it is the first NERSC system specifically designed to meet the needs of large-scale simulations as well as data analysis from experimental and observational facilities.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy held a Quantum Initiative Summit on September 24 at which it unveiled the National Strategic Overview for Quantum Information Science. A summary of the event can be read HERE.