Podcast: Is the D-Wave Machine Really a Quantum Computer?

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In this NPR Podcast, Geoff Brumfiel takes a look at D-Wave quantum computer. Some skeptics are saying that the machine does not really work with the quantum effects that D-Wave claims it does.

It’s not exactly science, what they’re doing,” says Christopher Monroe, a physicist with the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland. “It’s high-level engineering, and I think it’s high-level salesmanship, too.” But Monroe remains skeptical. He believes that the D-Wave team has never demonstrated that entanglement is happening on the chips in its machine. He believes that D-Wave’s supposedly quantum bits are actually working instead as tiny electromagnets. Those magnets, Monroe believes, could be interacting in ways to solve a certain problem very quickly without quantum mechanics. “There’s no evidence that what they’re doing has anything to do with quantum mechanics,” he says. If he’s right, then D-Wave’s machine may be far more narrow in its abilities than the company believes.

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