John Martinis has given himself just a few months to reach a milestone in the history of computing.
He’s leader of the Google research group working on building astonishingly powerful computer chips that manipulate data using the quirks of quantum physics. By the end of this year, Martinis says, his team will build a device that achieves “quantum supremacy,” meaning it can perform a particular calculation that’s beyond the reach of any conventional computer. Proof will come from a kind of drag race between Google’s chip and one of the world’s largest supercomputers.
“We think we’re ready to do this experiment. It’s something we can do now,” says Martinis.