Building a Quantum Internet
Well worth taking some time to read from the source, below. Because Quantum is Coming. Qubit.
To Invent a Quantum Internet
Excerpts and salient points ~
+ The ability of networks to transmit data — as well as their tendency to crash, or otherwise behave unpredictably — has always fascinated Stephanie Wehner. “On a single computer, things will happen nice and sequentially,” said Wehner, a physicist and computer scientist at Delft University of Technology. “On a network, many unexpected things can happen.” This is true in two senses: Programs on connected computers interfere with one another, with surprising effects. And users of networks get creative. With the internet, Wehner noted, initially “people thought we would use it to send around some files.”
In doing this, I think we will get a more fundamental understanding in several areas. We will learn more about the physics by making these networks possible because currently we don’t know exactly how to do it. We’re still trying out different kinds of nodes and quantum repeaters, devices that relay entanglement across large distances. And in the domain of computer science, we will learn an entirely new way to program and control such networks due to fundamental differences from classical communication.
+ Wehner is now one of the intellectual leaders of the effort to create a new kind of internet from scratch. She is working to design the “quantum internet,” a network that would transmit — instead of classical bits with values of either 0 or 1—quantum bits in which both possibilities, 0 and 1, coexist. These “qubits” might be made of photons that are in a combination of two different polarizations. The ability to send qubits from one place to another over fiber-optic cables might not transform society as thoroughly as the classical internet, but it would once again revolutionize many aspects of science and culture, from security to computing to astronomy.
+ Wehner is the coordinator of the Quantum Internet Alliance, a European Union initiative to build a network for transmitting quantum information throughout the continent. In a paper in Science last October, she and two co-authors laid out a six-stage plan for realizing the quantum internet, where each developmental stage will support new algorithms and applications. The first stage is already underway, with the construction of a demonstration quantum network that will connect four cities in the Netherlands — a kind of Arpanet analogue. Tracy Northup, a member of the Quantum Internet Alliance based at the University of Innsbruck, praised “the breadth of Stephanie’s vision, and her commitment to building the kind of large-scale structures that will make it happen.”
Content may have been edited for style and clarity.