So I’m sure you’ve heard about these things, the machines of the future, capable of running at speeds a million times faster than any normal computer ever could. Able to crack impossible security encryptions, make the perfect scrambled eggs, make the kind of witty banter that would drive Austen green with envy.

Basically, Quantum Computers are where it’s at, and where it’s going to be in a couple of decades.

So–what exactly are they, and why are they so special? Here’s what I’ve been able to gather so far.

Take a bit. They’re either a 1 or a 0, and they’re what computers use to process and store memory, etc. They’re what computer’s run on today, and even the fastest computer we’ve got, the biggest, baddest mainframe lurking behind the IBM trailer park essentially makes one calculation at a time, no matter how fast it goes. Either you have a 1, or a 0. Finis. Picture it as having an arrow that can point either UP or DOWN.

Now: Quantum Computers will eschew the rather plebian bits and run instead on qubits. Which are made of awesome, because instead of 1 or 0’s, you have tons of options. Picture a ping pong ball. Sure you can have an arrow point up from the north pole and down from the south pole, but you can also have arrows pointing out in every other direction. It’s not binary any more, it’s whatever word means tons of options at once. Which means, on a basic level, that you could have a qubit have 4 options instead of two. That’s going twice as fast as a binary computer. Say you had two qubits, and suddenly you’re going four times as fast. I’m fuzzy on the math, but get 20 qubits going and you’re going millions of times faster.

That’s what we’re talking about. Crazy non-binary madness. Impossible speeds. The ability to go beyond YES/NO and throw in a million MAYBE’s.

It’s like Arnie said: My brain is a neural net processor, a thinking computer.