nd that speaks volumes about the future of science and computing, which is sure to use the science of quantum physics extensively. Today we’re going to talk a bit about what it’s going to be used for. But first, watch this awesome synopsis of what the award was for:

Basically, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to these guys for coming up with a clever new way of measuring the quantum world.

Serge Haroche, one of the two winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics. He's French.

So what does this invention mean? Well, this and other developments in the quantum world mean that we’re coming to understand and work with quantum physics for practical purposes. Read about quantum robotics in Portland, for just one example.

For something more concrete, let’s look at the quantum computer—how it compares to a regular computer today, and what a quantum computer can be used for:

Right now, everything is calculated with bits, ones or zeroes which represent “on” and “off.” Basically, we’ve come up with a way to represent every type of data with bits, and can do calculations with bits. For example, “Hello!” is represented with “010010000110010101101100011011000110111100100001.” You can maybe see how just using ones and zeroes can get cumbersome, right?

David Wineland, the other winner. These two did great work in the field of physics and quantum computing. Wineland is American.

Quantum computers introduce the qbit state of superposition, meaning that one qbit can be both on and off at the same time (a third state!). Think of it like this: if you have 8 bits, there are 2^8 ways the bits can be arranged (combinations of on and off), but it can only be one combination at a time. 8 qbits, on the other hand, can be every possible on/off combination at the same time. That means it can simultaneously be in 2^8 states.

Crazy math stuff, right? But what does it mean? It means that, because it can be so many things at once, a quantum computer could decrypt a cipher in a few seconds when a normal computer would take years. Quantum computing belongs in the world of very complex math, which almost all forms of computer security boil down to. If you think data security, passwords, encryption or ciphers are cool, chances are you’re going to be working with quantum computers sometime in your life.

Nobel Prizes are a great thing to pay attention to, as it shows what the intellectuals of the world are focusing on (and therefore what the future might hold for us).