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Imagine the US is under attack. An enemy aircraft, loaded with warheads, is heading towards the coast, dipping in and out of radar. Fighter jets have been scrambled and there’s a frantic effort to pinpoint the target.

But the nation’s best defence is not an aircraft carrier or a missile system. It’s a box of incredibly cold atoms.

“Use the quantum computer,” yells a general. The atoms inside the computer can solve complex problems and, almost instantly, spit out an instruction for how to reconfigure a radar array so that the enemy aircraft can be tracked and targeted.

One firm already getting to grips with a scenario like this is ColdQuanta. It recently signed a contract with US defence research agency Darpa to build a quantum computer that can rapidly work out how best to reposition radar equipment in the event of a defence system partially failing.

Källa: The coldest computers in the world


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