The Loh Down On Science

Three-Million-Dollar Idea

Sometimes thinking literally pays off!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying, it did for Caltech scientist Alexei Kitaev.

He just won the three-million-dollar Fundamental Physics prize. For what? A revolutionary idea that could transform quantum computing.

See, today’s digital computers process bits, electronic switches that are either "on" or "off." But quantum computers process quantum bits, or qubits. Qubits can be both on and off at the same time.

So quantum computers can solve some problems much faster than digital computers.

But quantum computing is hard because qubits are tough to control. Kitaev's idea? To build a quantum computer using exotic particles called "anyons."

But anyons are so exotic we’re only just finding experimental evidence they even exist. Kitaev predicted where researchers could find them, and he seems to be right.

What does that mean for your iPhone? We have absolutely no idea! But text us when you find out. Super quickly!

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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