THE 20TH CENTURY gave birth to the Nuclear Age as the power of the atom was harnessed and unleashed. Today, we are on the cusp of an equally momentous and irrevocable breakthrough: the advent of computers that draw their computational capability from quantum mechanics.
But that same computing power can be used to unlock different kinds of secrets—from your personal financial or health records, to corporate research projects and classified government intelligence.
It’s more than just theoretical: An algorithm formulated by mathematician Peter Shordemonstrates that quantum computers are able to factor large numbers more efficiently than classical computers. Large-number factoring is the foundation of today’s encryption standards.