Imagine all the things you could do if you could be in two places at once. Think about how much you could accomplish, and how quickly. This is reality for molecules and atoms. The field of quantum mechanics observes these very small systems, and shows us how the rules of nature can be vastly different from our everyday experiences. Raymond Laflamme, quantum physics researcher and Executive Director of the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, explains that we typically think about things being either here or there, but quantum mechanics teaches us that things can be both here and there at the same time.
This may seem like science fiction, but there are many real world applications of quantum behaviour all around you.
Laflamme explains that understanding the special properties of systems at the atomic level allows us not only to predict quantum behaviour, but also to control it to create new technologies. The computers we have today store information using bits, and these basic units of information can have one of two values: 0 or 1. By storing information as bits with values of 0 and 1, quantum computers gain speed and capacity. This opens up the potential to manipulate and control all kinds of devices, from simple thermostats to lasers, making them more sensitive and precise than ever.