This week, Google announced a breakthrough that could prove its quantum computer is actually using quantum mechanics. When researchers gave the D-Wave 2X a carefully crafted test problem, the 1,000-qubit computer solved it 100,000,000 times faster than a classical computer could.
Quite a few tech giants and government organizations are investing in quantum computing. And many of them, including Google, NASA, and Lockheed Martin, are working with the commercial quantum computers built by D-Wave. The idea is that these devices can harness the counterintuitive effects of quantum mechanics to solve problems faster than conventional computers, which could potentially improve artificial intelligence, materials science, space exploration, and even Google web searches. (Skeptics, however, have suggested these practical applications are far-fetched and that quantum computing would most likely be applied to a less glamorous business: proving the theories of quantum mechanics.)