You’d think quantum computers exist in heavily-guarded labs, with many men in white suits manning control stations filled with unfathomable screens and charts. Actually, they exist in a small cupboard in England’s West Country.
Tom Scott took a tour of Bristol's Quantum Photonics lab to look at their quantum computer. Far from glamorous, it's actually just a small chip sitting on a desk, using photons rather than electricity to make quantum bits. As the university explains:
Photons can also interfere with each other and share their quantum state. This quantum phenomenon is known as entanglement and was described by Albert Einstein as "a spooky action at a distance". The interaction continues even when the particles are no longer near each other and is hard to understand in terms of our everyday world. An action on one entangled quantum particle will result in an instantaneous action on the other entangled particle conserving the laws of energy and momentum. But, you cannot guarantee which way you will influence them so we rely on statistical probabilities to tell us what the most likely result of an action is.
Best of all, the university has a simulator on its website -- and if you develop a cool experiment in the simulator, they will let you remote-control a real computer. All without having to get up, or put pants on. That's what I call science. [YouTube]