Are Quantum Computers a Reality or Just a Scientists Wet Dream? The short answer to that question is, yes! Quantum Computers are a reality, but just not practical yet.
Have you seen the film Iron Man and his talking, thinking computer or Terminator, the robot with a soul yet? What about a book that describes a fictional technology that far exceeds our current level of knowledge?
If you have, then you would be right in thinking that the current processing speeds of our fastest computers will not even come close to what you have seen. You may argue that with enough computational power we could create copycat intelligence , (This is my preferred description of artificial intelligence as I believe we will never create artificial intelligence that thinks, feels and is aware of itself. possible that somehow if you assemble enough processing power into one device it will actually just like magic become aware of itself).
However you could never build a practical device that could test an unlimited amount of processing power. as it would have undesiantly malfunction countless times, due to keeping such a device cool and maintained long enough to measure such properties, and yes, even with the current size of processors breaking records for size reduction, you would still need a lot of them to give the experiment a run for its money.
Quantum processors offer hope and they are coming our way sooner, rather than later, not as I have said for computers with a soul, that's the responsibility of a greater and unrelated science, but for computational devices that have unlimited processing power and will never suffer from slow down with graphical applications like gaming consoles, or need time to render data from an exploding star.
In June of 2009 a team of scientists from the Yale University created a Solid State Quantum Processor! A processor that uses the laws of Quantum Physics to compute, instead of 0's and 1's. The processor has only demonstrated that it is possible to create such a device, but it is still in its early stages and has no practical use. However it does answer the title of this article with a YES!
I will not try and explain Quantum Physics in this article, it would be better if you read a book on the subject, please comment on this article, my guess is you would find it very confusing. I will however, explain the major difference between a Quantum Processor and a bog standard reliable Intel Processor.
The Intel Processor will compute a problem with 1's and 0's which means On, Off. So lets say the Intel Processor has to look through an array of Social Security Numbers, after you input your own Social Security Number for a match. The Intel Processor will go down the list one by one, until it either finds a match or reaches the end of the list. This is time consuming and larger lists will start to show the limits of the processor.
Now the Quantum Processor has a mind boggling advantage over a standard Processor like the one above. Because of the Laws of Quantum Physics the Quantum Processor can check the whole list as if it was only checking just one Social Security Number. In other words the Quantum Processor, can compute with no real limits to its speed. A Quantum Processor would take the same time to compute a list of 100,000 Social Security numbers as it would take to compute a list of just one Social Security number!