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Build your own quantum computer with this game from Google

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Don’t understand quantum computing? Don’t panic, the quantum pros are getting involved to put it just a click away.

Quantum computing is an absolutely fascinating technology. But between qubits, entanglement, superposition and the rest of the vocabulary associated with this discipline, you have to hold on tight to understand what’s going on behind the scenes; it is often a question of phenomena not only very abstract for the uninitiated, but also difficult to popularize.

But it’s still worth looking into, and for good reason; we can already say without an ounce of exaggeration that this technology will transform our vision of the world, while the concrete applications can still be counted on the fingers of one hand. And to help us see things more clearly, Google has produced a very nice little game.

The quantum world just a click away

Entitled “The Qbit Game”, it is presented as a “playful exploration of the construction of a quantum computer, qbit by qbit”. It allows anyone to familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of quantum computing, even without the slightest knowledge of fundamental physics. The only prerequisite is to understand the basics of English. Because for the moment, The Qbit Game is only available in the language of Shakespeare.

When you arrive on the page, you immediately meet a qubit. This is the fundamental unit on which quantum computing is based; functionally, they play more or less the same role as bits in traditional computing.

The objective is to protect this small qubit from the assaults of the external environment. And it starts with the temperature. Indeed, these machines operate at temperatures relatively close to absolute zero. It is thus necessary to neutralize these aggressors, whom our adorable qubit watches out of the corner of his eye with apprehension.

It is thus allowed to retain information, which is the final objective of the researchers and allows here to increase its score. If we manage to defend our qubit, it ends up being joined by new units that will also have to be protected; the more there are, the more difficult it becomes to defend them. But it also offers them the possibility of going into a state of quantum entanglement (quantum entanglement).

Very briefly, this term refers to the installation of a kind of invisible “bridge” which connects two particles. This results in two paired particles, which share their properties even when they are far apart; an observation that led Albert Einstein to drop a phrase that has since gone down in history when he spoke of “frightening action at a distance”.

Without going into detail, what is important is that this entanglement has the particularity of multiplying the computing capacities of a quantum computer. The more qubits entangled in the same quantum processor, the greater the computing capacity becomes.

IBM’s Q System One, one of the first commercial quantum computers. © IBM Research

Encourage vocations

In The Qubit Game, the objective is therefore to allow as many qubits as possible to coexist in a state of quantum entanglement while protecting them from temperature. You can then recover the points generated by these “calculations”; it then becomes possible to reinvest them in improvements that will increase the overall performance of the system… and so on.

Obviously, The Qubit Game will not make you a quantum computing specialist. But it at least has the merit of helping to visualize very simply concepts that are often very abstract. In particular, Google hopes that this playful little experience will inspire some, especially younger ones, to dig deeper on the side of this thematic certainly fascinating, but also very intimidating At first glance.

We need more students to pursue careers building or operating quantum computerssays Abe Asfaw, chief education officer at Google Quantum, the division of Google that deals with quantum computing. With this game, the firm therefore hopes to give a taste of the qubit to future little geniuses of the discipline… and if the general public can familiarize themselves a little with these concepts in passing, it’s always good to take!

You can play The Qubit Game at this address (in English).

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